©Paul Swanson, photographer – image courtesy of the University of Alberta Botanic Garden
AGA KHAN GARDEN ALBERTA
The Aga Khan Garden is a gift to the University of Alberta from His Highness the Aga Khan. It brings to life the principle of pluralism in a 4.8-hectare Mughal-inspired space where traditional Islamic landscape design takes on strikingly contemporary features.
Elements inspired by gardens from the Muslim world are interspersed with distinctively Canadian features, from Alberta’s wild rose beds to Canadian-quarried stonework.
The Garden provides a stunning example of Islamic landscape architecture that explores the beauty and boundaries of vegetation, light, water, geometry, symmetry, adaptation and human scale. The serenity of nature highlights each of the design elements including secluded forest paths, granite and limestone terraces, still pools that reflect the prairie sky and a waterfall that tumbles over textured stone.
The Aga Khan Garden is laid out in three parts: woodland valley, central court and pond framed by an orchard. It unfolds in rectangular terraces down to the Calla Pond. On the highest point stands a pavilion that enjoys a vista over the Garden. From this plaza, water emerges and runs through a stone-lined channel from one terrace level to the next and then falls gently into Calla Pond.
At that moment, the Aga Khan Garden transitions from a structured scheme to a looser, curving, more naturalistic design of the bustan, a fruit orchard that extends around the Calla Pond. The Garden contains more than 25,000 trees, shrubs, perennials, annuals and wetland plants, selected for fragrance, beauty and the ability to thrive in Alberta’s climate. Twelve water features and fountains are sprinkled around the Garden.
Speaking at the inauguration, His Highness spoke of the place, throughout history, of the Islamic garden in reminding us of the notion of good stewardship of the earth and “our responsibility to honor, to protect, and to share the gifts of the natural world”. In considering the role that such green spaces may play, His Highness spoke of the Garden as a social space, “a place for learning, for sharing, for romance, for diplomacy, for reflection on the destiny of the human race”.
Aga Khan Garden Alberta
51227 AB-60, Spruce Grove,
AB T7Y 1C5