An Albertan Plant Journal

The Asparagaceae  Polygonatum odoratum  or “Solomon’s Seal” is a lovely understory in woodland gardens, even as the chill of colder months approach.

The Asparagaceae Polygonatum odoratum or “Solomon’s Seal” is a lovely understory in woodland gardens, even as the chill of colder months approach.

Fall is easily my favorite time of year, and this Autumn was no exception - despite our early snow.

For one thing, I no longer have that tiny alarm in the the back of my brain singing “wedding wedding wedding wedding, you have so much to do, wedding wedding wedding…”. It’s all over! I’m a married woman and I couldn’t be more satisfied settling into the calm of the cooler months.

Another reason to savour September is the start of school; another year of open studies taking me another step closer towards my Masters in Landscape Architecture. I’m definitely jumping on the graduate studies bandwagon a little later than I originally planned, but it was well worth it to take a few years off and practice permaculture on Vancouver Island. Now back and hard at work in the city, I can finally afford to devote a little bit of time towards a long forgotten dream. It really is never too late to go back.

My one class this semester is called Plants in the Landscape in which we have been taking plant walks and identifying botanical species. Fun, right? But wait, it gets better. My first assignment for class is to make a detailed journal documenting all of the different plants that we studied. Brilliant!

A beautiful day for a plant walk at  Eagle Lake Nurseries

A beautiful day for a plant walk at Eagle Lake Nurseries

Alberta’s unique climate demands some fairly hardy plant life. The dry air, sudden changes in weather, hot and cold extremes between the seasons, all dotted with completely unanticipated Chinooks rushing down from the Rocky Mountains makes establishing, growing and maintaining a landscape a bit of a tricky endeavor. Fortunately, the prairies are chock-full with a wide array of native wildflowers, swaying grasses, and rustic shrubs. With a little extra thought and care, well-selected foreign species can also flourish in our landscapes.

From our plant walks, I have become familiar with many of these. I have learned their botanical names and how identify different species by their leaves, bark and fruits. I studied their naturally occurring habitats and their urban applications. I took photos and sketched out each one so that I could more intimately know its nuances and needs.

Plants can be identified by key characteristics, like the flaky bark on this  Pinaceae Larix sibrica  or “Siberian Larch”.

Plants can be identified by key characteristics, like the flaky bark on this Pinaceae Larix sibrica or “Siberian Larch”.

I wanted to share my journal for interested individuals to use as a reference in identifying some of the commonly used plants in our landscapes.

Please enjoy this digital copy of my plant journal!


*My plant journal lists over 70 species that are commonly used in landscaping and gardening in Calgary, Alberta, which is listed by Natural Resources Canada as a 4a zone as of 2010. These plants were documented over several plant walks at the University of Calgary and at Eagle Lake Nurseries in September and October of 2018. My plant journal is by no means exclusive; there are plenty of native and non-native species that are thriving in Southern Alberta, and are not listed here. This journal is simply meant to serve as both a personal study tool and reference guide for selecting plants for landscaping.*