Native Landscaping

The Government of Alberta, in its preamble to guidelines on native plant communities, notes they are very difficult to establish. Minimal disturbance to natural landscapes, as happened in the redevelopment of The Juniper, is the ideal.

During the construction of Cave Avenue Homes, we worked hard to preserve mature trees and ground cover. An existing wildlife trail was left undisturbed. When the building was finished, we planted indigenous, source-identified species; plants that also grow naturally in the Environmental Reserve on the south boundary of the site.

At the Bison Courtyard property in downtown Banff, there was no natural landscape left when Arctos & Bird acquired it. There we’ve embarked on an ambitious effort to “bring the Park back in.”

Bison Courtyard Gardens

These gardens-in-progress feature plants found in the three vegetative communities of Banff National Park.

The montane zone includes valley floors, foothills and the lower slopes of peaks and is replicated on the first level of the Courtyard. Montane areas enjoy more sunshine and receive less moisture than the other two Canadian Rocky Mountain zones. Columbines, jacob’s ladder, brown-eyed susans, aspens and assorted wild grasses grow in the montane zone.

The subalpine zone, represented on the Courtyard’s second floor, occurs at altitudes above the montane zone, below tree line. This zone accumulates the most snow. It experiences later snowmelt and a shorter growing season. Larches, wild strawberries and powderface willows all grow in subalpine areas.

The third floor of the Courtyard features the alpine zone, areas above the tree line. It is windier and colder above tree line and precipitation can be sudden and heavy. Here, you’ll find spruce trees, moss campion, stone crop and saxifrage bravely living among the rocks.

The Courtyard’s landscaped areas not only mimic the plant life in the three mountain growing zones; they also mimic the zones’ unique soil composition. The gardens grow in careful mixtures of granulite, locally-sourced peat moss, horse manure, composted spruce chips and composted sawdust. The soils drain well and contain nutrients similar to those that occur naturally.

Limestone and rundle rock from a small quarry located just outside the Park complete the Courtyard’s gardens. There are Triassic fossils preserved in some of the stones.

The gardens are watered through an underground drip/self-draining irrigation system. This system, designed to replicate similar moisture levels found in nature, uses storm water that has been collected and stored in a cistern.

Credits and More Information

Nurseries: Bow Point Nursery Ltd. and ALCLA Native Plant Restoration Inc., both of Calgary, Alberta.

Landscape Architects: Siteworks of Charlottesville, Virginia and Skatliff + Miller+ Murray of Calgary, Alberta.

For a complete listing of plant species found in our gardens, email us.