- 4.8 hectare Mughal-inspired space is northernmost Islamic garden in world
- Made possible by a CAD 25-million gift from His Highness the Aga Khan
- Expected to more than double annual visitors from 75,000 to 160,000
Edmonton, Alberta, Canada, 29 June 2018 – After nearly a decade of planning and 18 months of construction, the much-anticipated new Aga Khan Garden in Edmonton, Alberta, was opened to the public.
The 4.8 hectare Mughal-inspired garden, made possible by a CAD 25-million gift from His Highness the Aga Khan, features secluded forest paths, granite and limestone terraces, still pools that reflect the prairie sky and a waterfall that tumbles over textured stone. Fruit orchards extend around the large Calla Pond, and the garden contains more than 25,000 trees, shrubs, perennials, annuals and wetland plants, selected for fragrance, beauty and the ability to survive Alberta’s harsh climate.
“Everyone is welcome to enjoy this beautiful new space created for reflection, inspiration education and intercultural dialogue,” said garden director Lee Foote. “Finishing touches on landscaping and planting around the garden will be going on throughout the 2018 season, and in 2019, once new plantings have had a chance to become established, a public opening celebration of the Aga Khan Garden will be held.”
A modern interpretation of historic Islamic landscape architecture, designed for the Edmonton region’s climate and topography, the Aga Khan Garden is the northernmost Islamic garden in the world. The garden is a space for connection, enjoyment, contemplation and education, where cultural understanding can flourish.
The addition of the Aga Khan Garden is expected to more than double the number of annual visitors (from 75,000 to 160,000) to the University of Alberta Botanic Garden, benefiting the economy of the entire region. To ensure a positive experience for the expected influx of visitors, other major upgrades have been made to the U of A Botanic Garden, including parking improvements, a new entry plaza and infrastructure improvements.
“We’re so thrilled to finally be able to share with the public this time of transformation at the garden,” said director Lee Foote. “From the moment people drive through our new entry gate, to their first glimpse of the extraordinary Aga Khan Garden, I’m confident visitors are going to be amazed at all that’s new and beautiful here.”
Volunteer docent-led tours of the new garden will be offered on weekends in 2018, providing information on the architectural features of the new space. Future interpretive programming is in development, including components on botany and the environment; art and design; music, sound and poetry; and intercultural understanding. Plans are also being made for programming in an open-air amphitheatre attached to the Aga Khan Garden, built into an existing woodland bowl and surrounded by forest.
“The Aga Khan Garden has been designed and constructed to provide enjoyment for hundreds of years and many generations to come,” said Foote. “As with any garden, it will be fascinating to watch as all the plants and trees mature over time, and how programming and learning grows to incorporate the full potential of the space.”
The new garden will join a network of parks and gardens built or restored by the Aga Khan Trust for Culture around the world, in places such as Delhi, Cairo, Kabul and Toronto.
The garden is open to visitors daily from 29 June through 8 October 2018. For more information on the Aga Khan Garden, visit uab.ca/akg
For media inquiries:
Kerry Mulholland, Communications Coordinator
University of Alberta Botanic Garden
His Highness the Aga Khan is the Imam, or spiritual leader, of 15 million Ismaili Muslims. The Aga Khan is celebrating his Diamond Jubilee in commemoration of 60 years as Imam. He is also Chairman of the Aga Khan Development Network. For more information, please see: http://www.akdn.org/diamond-jubilee-visit-canada
The Aga Khan Trust for Culture (AKTC) focuses on the physical, social, cultural and economic revitalisation of communities in the developing world. In addition to the Aga Khan Historic Cities Programme, under which the programme for parks and gardens resides, the Trust includes the Aga Khan Award for Architecture, the Aga Khan Music Initiative, the Aga Khan Museum in Toronto, Canada, the on-line resource Archnet.org and related programmes.
A memorandum of understanding signed between the University of Alberta and the Aga Khan University reflects a shared desire to collaborate for the betterment of society.
The University of Alberta Botanic Garden, part of the Faculty of Agricultural, Life and Environmental Sciences, is an award-winning visitor attraction, a research site, and home to year-round adult and children’s education programming.