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Teaching Garden – Phase 1 – Medicine Hat College

The first phase of the Medicine Hat College Teaching Garden has been completed, and is an excellent example of what can be achieved through the efforts of many in one community.

The development site of the garden is situated in a sheltered area on campus, already enhanced by the presence of towering Spruce trees as well as several mature Green Ash trees. It was imperative for many reasons that these trees were incorporated into the design; not the least being a habitat for wildlife.

This area of campus provides entry to the Science Department, the Trades Department, the Botany Lab Greenhouse as well as the Vera Bracken Library. Prior to the construction of this Teaching Garden, the development site provided basic pedestrian access to these points of entry with lawn surfaces surrounding them.

The design intent for this space was conceived as an educational garden for the students and staff of the College, as well as the members of the entire community. The Rose Garden in particular was partially funded by the Medicine Hat and District Horticultural Society and will be rich with botanical color, fragrance, texture and shape. Other areas of the Teaching Garden such as the Sun and Shade Gardens will illustrate the possibilities that exist in our unique climate for growth of plant material in various environmental conditions.

One of the design requirements for this garden is that the level of maintenance be low. The use of concrete curbing as a mowing strip and rock mulching against the buildings has eliminated the need for weed-eating, as well as watering requirements adjacent to the building foundations. This keeps the buildings dry and the windows clean and accessible. The shredded bark mulch used on the planting beds was produced at the college from annual tree pruning, and provides moisture retention as well as weed control.

The pedestrian walkways were designed not only to provide a route from one door to another, but to inspire our guest to enjoy the botanical display along the way. Site access and egress for emergency and maintenance vehicles is also critical to the establishment of a safe and efficient site plan. The materials used in the walkway design are those used in other locations of the college and were specifically selected to lend cohesion and unity to the design. Paving stones, by the nature of their installation, are considered to be somewhat permeable compared to other materials typically used for paving. By choosing these materials we are lowering our actual site coefficient of absorption percentage and reducing run off.

Large circular benches installed in two areas of the garden will also provide resting and meeting opportunities in both sun and shaded areas. The shape of circles is used predominantly and intentionally throughout the design of this garden. In every culture the world over, the shape of the circle represents wholeness and the experience of unity.

Our hope is that this garden will be accessed by the students, staff and faculty of the college on a daily basis, but also that it becomes an important site for the meeting of all members of our community and facilitates a positive experience for visitors to our city. This garden will provide many rooms for the purposes of relaxation, private meditation, social interaction and education. It will celebrate the uniting of indoor and outdoor spaces as it will celebrate the uniting of our community.

MHC - Teaching Garden - Phase 1 (2008)


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MHC - Teaching Garden - Phase 1 (2011)


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