The not-so-wild Devonian Gardens

Remember the Devonian Gardens? That prehistoric jungle of trees and faux rocks and tiered waterfalls that occupied the top of TD Square in downtown Calgary? Well, it has finally reopened after a four-year hiatus during which time it received a $37-million facelift. The only problem is, I liked the old gardens better.

We visited the new gardens on Thanksgiving Monday. They are still in the same place but (memo!) the shopping centre has been renamed the Core (I don’t get out shopping much). It was cool and overcast outside and we hoped the new airy space would add some tropical heat to the day.

Avery isn’t really sure how to play on the circles. Behold the highly manicured gardens in the background.

The redevelopment is bright and modern and boasts 10,000 shrubs, 550 trees and a living wall of plants. But it felt more sterile than wild, a trend that seems to be taking hold across the city as land and parks get redeveloped (think trees in orderly rows instead of scattered groves, and unnatural, patterned groupings of shrubs that only a landscaper could dream up).

Blake assists Bennett on the playground at the redeveloped Devonian Gardens.

The kids were ho-hum about the playground — it was crowded and features one of those unusual new climbing structures (and only one slide = boo!) that children aren’t quite sure how to play on. Avery may have used the word “boring.” They liked the enclosed garden areas to practice balancing along the edging, and they loved the fish ponds, though I wouldn’t describe them as “teeming” with fish. There were, like, five.

The ponds are certainly not “teeming” with fish, as The City of Calgary website claims. You’ll see way more at Dragon Pearl in Chinatown.

In all, exploring the Devonian Gardens was a pleasant way to spend an hour on a chilly day. But both Blake and I agree we miss the wild and overgrown — if dated — look of its former self.

What about you? The redeveloped Devonian Gardens: yea or nay?

3 responses to “The not-so-wild Devonian Gardens

  1. I completely agree with you. We visited the new Devonian Gardens a few weeks ago and we were disappointed. Modern, sterile. We compared it to a Vegas hotel’s idea of a garden – it looks nice, but it lacks soul.

  2. I’ve been there twice, both times to do some writing. I like the sounds of the fountains and I never have a problem finding a place to sit, but I find the new atmosphere cold and commercial. The old gardens were an oasis. The new gardens are more like an accessory to the food court.

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