By Christie Melhorn, July 28 2017 —
With consistent golden sunshine and just enough rain to let the city’s plant life thrive, this summer in Calgary has been stunning. Back in March, when the city was glazed with ice and the trees were bare, I happened upon a floral studio off 17 Ave. and remembered how healing being around plants can be. While a busy student schedule might prevent you from gardening or keeping a simple house plant alive, Calgary is full of indoor and outdoor spaces worth visiting. Embrace them before summer leaves or a flash hail storm hits.
I was so accustomed to Calgary’s damp, smoggy winter and its signature gray hues that the balminess and colour of the floral studio overwhelmed me. In a Rutgers University study, professors Jeannette Haviland-Jones and Terry McGuire found the aroma of flowers can evoke intense joy and have long-term mood-boosting effects.
The agricultural and life sciences department at the University of Texas also found that spending time outdoors improves memory retention and focus by 20 per cent, making a walk outside a better study break than scrolling through Instagram.
Any test that I studied for in the atrium on campus resulted in a high grade. It’s located on the first floor of the administration building and is an oasis compared to the University of Calgary’s traditional study spaces. The sprawling trees and skylight give it an enthralling feel that silences anyone who enters, despite it not being a designated silent study area. The neon orange and green couches are an eyesore but are surprisingly comfortable. Expect lone leaves to drift onto you while you’re in there — take it as a pat on the back for your hard work! It often gets chilly in there, so bring a sweater.
The city’s most well-known indoor greenspace, the Devonian Gardens in the CORE Shopping Centre, is currently closed for repairs. However, visiting garden centres like Plant in Inglewood and Plantation in Mount Pleasant is equally as enjoyable. These heavily windowed buildings invite tons of natural light, enveloping their plants in an ethereal glow. The dewey scent of freshly watered plants is refreshing and the staff are happy to answer your questions, whether or not you intend on taking a plant friend home.
Parks boasting mosaics of flowers and expansive lawns exist in all corners of the city. The tall trees in Confederation Park are overflowing with leaves and their shadows colour the park with patches of dark green. Thick lilac bushes and river reeds give the park a rustic coziness. If you cross the Crowchild Trail overpass by the University LRT station, you can get there from campus within 30–40 minutes by walking along 24 Ave. There is signage around 14 St. to steer you in the right direction, but the dipping hills of the park’s entrance should be enough of an indicator.
Prince’s Island Park is another idyllic inner-city hang-out that’s always buzzing with activity. The sound of running water has an additional soothing effect alongside its vibrant scenery.
Fish Creek Park in the city’s deep southeast may be a far trek for some but is worth the trip. The park holds significance to local Indigenous communities and is home to some of Calgary’s oldest buildings. Fish Creek’s intense and engaging energy can awaken your explorative spirit and provides solace from stress.
These are just a few of the many decadent spaces in Calgary to spend meaningful self-time. Click here for a full list of our city’s indoor and outdoor parks.