Location: East end of the Douglas Fir Trail (Cedar Crescent S.W.)
Area: 16.5 hectares
Park hours: 5 a.m. - 11 p.m.
- Native grassland
- Paved pathways
- Off-leash area
About the park
Lawrey Gardens along with Brickburn and the Douglas Fir Trail are adjacent to Edworthy Park, which lies on the southern bank of the Bow River as it flows through the southwest part of the city. Land acquisition for the whole green space began in 1962 and it now covers about 169 hectares. Park areas were named after early landowners, Thomas Edworthy and John Lawrey.
Lawrey Gardens and the Douglas Fir Trail can be accessed from a parking lot off Cedar Cres. S.W. and from a parking lot at the western end of 10 Ave. S.W. under Crowchild Trail Bridge.
Elimination of invasive species
Work to remove Caragana (Caragana arborescens) from Lawrey Gardens will begin in 2015 and be ongoing over the next five years. The Caragana, an invasive species introduced from Siberia and parts of China, is being removed to increase the biodiversity of the existing native tree stand.
Removal will include:
- Machine brushing and mulching of the Caragana stand where it has become very thick. Stump treatment of herbicide application.
- Selectively brushing Caragana plants where they have crept into the native trees.
- Soil conditioning, tilling the top soil layer, within the mulched areas.
- Selective herbicide applications (spot spraying) of Caragana regrowth, anticipated to occur from remaining roots and seeds.
- Reintroduction of native trees, shrubs and grasses, and wildflowers.
Experience nature in the city
When the area was landscaped for a park, "Willow Pond" was created from an old slough. It provides the conditions for cattails and willows to thrive along with the birds and other wildlife that prefer this type of habitat.
This "natural garden" is home to many species of wild flowers—some which prefer the moist areas such as Round-leaved Orchid and Small Wood Anemone, while others prefer open spaces such as Prairie Onion and Ascending Purple Milk Vetch. Still others, like Wild Bergamot and Spreading Dog-bane are found primarily on the forest floor. Due to the large-scale disturbances and multiple uses over the years, there are also many exotic invasive species such as Common Goat's-beard and Canada Thistle.
Another pond, "South Sora," is in fact frequented by Sora rails. In and around these ponds you can find Boreal Chorus Frogs, Wood Frogs and two species of garter snakes, Wandering and Red-sided or Common.
Along the shoreline, you can walk among large Balsam Poplars and tall shrubs, and listen to the variety of birds, such as warbles, vireos and catbirds that frequent this environment. Off-shore, in the Bow River, there are gravel bars that host huge populations of ducks, Canada Geese and California and Ring-billed Gulls. In the waters, fish abound. Large populations of Rainbow and Brown Trout attract not only avian and other wildlife predators, but humans as well. Anglers come from all around the world to fish "the blue ribbon Bow".
The gardens are on a flood plain at the base of the slopes of the Bow River Valley. The plain consists primarily of river gravel deposits made since the last glaciation. But some of the underlying ground consists of land fill from demolished buildings. For those who remember the Robin Hood Flour Mills, which up to 1973 were a major part of the downtown skyline, you may be walking over them in Lawrey Gardens.
John Lawrey settled in this area as a neighbour to the Edworthy Family in 1882 and established the successful and well-known market garden. This garden market supplied railway crews and homesteaders with fresh fruit & vegetables and played an important role in the early development of Calgary. John Lawrey died in 1904 at the age of 66 leaving his property to two nephews who farmed the land until World War I.