The Reader Rock Garden Historic Park is a horticultural oasis in Calgary, Alberta, Canada.
Reader Rock Garden is an isolated natural feature wedged between the south end of the Calgary Stampede Grounds and Union Cemetery with clear signage near the east side of Macleod Trail at 325 25th Avenue SE.
Shady parking past the entrance sign is on the left (or sunny parking to the right) and the tiny retreat is best approached on clear path heading east past the end of the parking area and past four memorial oak trees which shade the bench honoring deceased City of Calgary Parks employees.
At convergence with the cobblestone road, several entrance alternatives in Reader Rock Garden present themselves.
The walk up the road passes entrances for cyclists and wheelchairs, then beautiful flower gardens and landscaping before passing an old stone bench hosting a brass plaque placed in 1944 by the Calgary Horticultural Society to recognize the contribution of W. R. Reader, F. R., H. S., A. G. S., Superintendent of the Calgary Parks Department and responsible for Reader Rock Garden's formation.
William Roland Read came to Calgary in 1908 as a landscape gardener for Senator Patrick Burns. From 1913 through 1942 he served as Superintendent of Calgary Parks, a job that came with a house near the top of a sandy, windy hill overlooking the burgeoning town of Calgary.
When William Roland Read died in 1943, the house was removed in the same year and care of his elaborate gardens essentially ceased. The wide variety of experimental plants in sophisticated rock gardens fended for themselves until the site was declared an Historic Site.
The current replica of the Read home was built in 2005. An army of local volunteers including Friends of Reader Rock Garden are gradually and painstakingly restoring the spectacular gardens for public enjoyment and appreciation.
Interpretive plaques along the route provide educational dialogue.
The road proceeds on gentle grade uphill past the numerous stone stair entrances to a labyrinth of additional path within the High Rockery and Nana's Garden.
Manicured lawns host a gazebo on the approach to the restored Reader House containing the Reader's Garden Café and a perfect location for group events. Weddings, workshops and family gathering reservations are often hosted here.
The veranda of the reconstructed Reader House hosts outdoor dining supplementary to indoor fare from the Reader's Garden Café.
The Reader's Garden Café veranda also provides outstanding views north to the Calgary Stampede structure and the downtown Calgary city skyline.
The south side of Reader House displays a bright assortment of brilliant, blooming Hollyhocks and manicured lawns favor the west side of Reader House.
Peripheral entrances from the lawn provide access to rock path and quaint bridges over cascading water features in the West Garden section.
Deceiving sections of flagstone path provide opportunity for strolling through magnificent greenery with the occasional unexpected accent feature.
The little park is quite tiny at only 1.65 hectares (4⅛ acres) but routes and entertaining features create the illusion of a much larger space.
Time is well spent to visit at least once to absorb the incredible beauty, natural ambiance and peace.
Several gates along the top of the Upper Rockery provide access to the massive grounds of the peripheral Union Cemetery.
One such portal provides access to the Union Cemetery Chapel and Mortuary.
On return to the parking area, signage informs of free cemetery tours provided on summer Sundays by the City of Calgary.
There is time remaining in this day for a brief visit to the Union Cemetery and the Chinese Cemetery of the west side of Macleod Trail.
Photographs for this brief tour of the Reader Rock Garden are captured on the morning of Wednesday, July 20, 2016 following nine unfortunate days of rain throughout the entire 2016 Calgary Stampede.