The John Beedle Volunter Centre (JBC) was built in 2007 and named for John, a founding member and designer of the original building plan in the early 1990’s. John was a former City park planner who was responsible for many of the beautiful trees, shrubs and other greenscaping throughout St. Albert. The JBC houses an office, kitchen, storage space, meeting room, garage, cold room and planting area.
Up until retiring from the Park in 2018 at the age of 92, John could often be found working at one project or another. The initial design and plantings in the garden beds in front of the JBC were carried out by John. Initially planted as a xeriscape garden that included plants requiring less moisture, the area was re-worked in the fall of 2018. Several of the original plants were divisions of perennials in the Park and either had no variety name or the correct name had been lost. As a botanic garden we do our best to identify plants with the correct botanical name and only named varieties will occupy a space in this garden as plants are added.
Volunteers have added a new rock to the garden and plan to add another in the spring. As you continue along the side and back of the JBC, plantings of other perennials and colourful annuals line the sidewalks. Around the back of the building are our public washrooms (open only May through Labour Day) and a collection of hosta and ligularia which are growing very nicely in this shady area.
With the success of the Gift Shop and increased foot traffic, it soon became apparent that we needed to improve the area around the entrance. In 2012 volunteers designed a framework for flower beds and installed cement pavers to create the lovely patio we have today. Two beautiful linden trees and several shrubs were planted as well as many perennials. Some perennials were divisions from other gardens and some of their variety names have been lost over time. There have been many new additions but some of the original plants, named or not, are too beautiful to move out.
The gardens around the patio have their first spots of colour in early may as volunteers add pansies to the beds and window boxes. Once the weather begins to warm, perennials begin to pop up and we know that winter is finally over! Many annuals are planted as soon as danger of frost is over and, of course, the perennials and shrubs provide a changing scene all season long.
Plant sales begin in early May with our annual Mother's Day Rose Sale. The first sale was in 1997 and it remains an important source of funds for the Park. Dahlias potted up by volunteers are out in late May and perennials are available all season. The Patio is where volunteers share their coffee break and many future plans in the Park have been hatched. As well as being a lovely spot to enjoy the sunshine, flowers and friends, it seems to be a spot where volunteer tools, gloves and plant labels seem to gather.