Building a bee-friendly Stephen Avenue

A green oasis taking shape along Stephen Avenue this week, but it’s not just for the people who will pass by or stop to admire the greenery and colourful flowers. The flower bed in front of the historic Bank of Montreal building at the corner of Stephen Avenue and 1 Street S.W. is first and foremost for the heavy lifter of downtown’s natural ecosystem – bees.

Bees are the most important part of bringing downtown Calgary’s gardens, parks, and flower beds to life each spring. It’s estimated that 85 per cent of flowering plants cannot reproduce without help from pollinators likes bees, so it is essential for there to be a large population of bee-friendly plants and flowers downtown to support a healthy bee population.

This bee-friendly green oasis is the first “activation” of the Future of Stephen Avenue project. This project is focused on reimagining Stephen Avenue and repositioning it as Calgary’s hallmark downtown main street for decades to come. This means creating welcoming public spaces, supporting arts and culture along the “Avenue”, making it more attractive for business and retail, and making it the place downtown for gathering and socialization.

The City of Calgary, with support from the Calgary Downtown Association, are starting this process by focusing on activation and experimentation. This means quick and inexpensive projects that are meant to test ideas and try new things to accomplish the goal of making Stephen Avenue a better place for all Calgarians. These activations and experiments will happen over the next two years and The City will measure their impact and use the findings to determine what long-term solutions can be put into place along Stephen Avenue.

The bee-friendly green oasis is our first step in testing ideas this summer. If you’re down along Stephen Avenue this summer, grabbing dinner at one of the Avenue’s many restaurants or stopping in at your favourite clothing store, make sure to check out some of these bee-friendly flowers.

Ceratium tomentosum ‘Snow in summer’

Snow in summer is a perennial flower that gets its common name from its blooming habit. It blooms fast and furiously in the early summer, with a blanket of pristine white flowers that looks like a fresh snowfall.

Nepeta racemose ‘subsessilis’

This type of catmint forms a bushy, upright mound of fragrant, glossy green leaves, with clusters of tubular violet-blue flowers appearing through the summer.


Agastache are a beautiful, aromatatic perennial with a broad colour palette, large quantities of flower blooms, tolerance to heat and drought, and are popular with bees, hummingbirds and butterflies.


Astrantia flowers are unusual looking, as they are a group of tightly packed flowers that look very much like a star or a firework.

Liatris spicata

Liatris spicata have linear, grass-like leaves that are clumped toward the base of the plant, but extend up the stem to the showy flower cluster. The purple, tufted flower heads are arranged in a long, dense spike blooming from the top down.Echinacea ‘magnus’

Echinacea ‘magnus’ is a distinctive and large growing plant with flowers shaped like cones. The bright reddish-pink petals of its huge flowers are held flat as they radiate out from the cone.