October 16, 2018 2:04 pm
Updated: October 16, 2018 8:25 pm

New U of A Botanic Garden saw spike in attendance; Aga Khan in town for inauguration

WATCH: The Aga Khan Garden is set to open Friday at the University of Alberta Botanic Garden in Devon. Take a sneak peek at the facility ahead of opening day.

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A stunning new garden southwest of Edmonton created thanks to a donation from the Aga Khan has seen a huge spike in attendance.

The Aga Khan Garden opened to the public in June at the University of Alberta Botanic Garden in Devon, previously known as the Devonian Gardens.

“The first two months we were open we more than doubled our normal attendance and we didn’t even have the garden completed at that point,” director Lee Foote said. “Now we have the canopies up, all the plantings are in.

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“Next year, 2019, we have an open-to-the-public celebration that’s going to be remarkable.”

READ MORE: Aga Khan Garden set to open southwest of Edmonton

The 4.8-hectare garden features secluded forest paths, 12 water features, about 665,000 kilograms of granite, fruit orchards and more than 25,000 trees, shrubs, perennials, annuals and wetland plants.

Watch below: The Aga Khan Garden was made possible by a donation from Aga Khan, who will be in Edmonton Tuesday to inaugurate the garden. Botanic Garden director Lee Foote discusses the upcoming inauguration.

It was made possible thanks to a $25-million gift from the Aga Khan, the spiritual leader of about 15 million Ismaili Muslims around the world. The University of Alberta bestowed an honorary doctorate to the Aga Khan in 2009. He is scheduled to receive an honorary degree from the University of Calgary on Wednesday.

READ MORE: Devonian Botanic Gardens wins national award from peers

On Tuesday afternoon, the Aga Khan was present for the official inauguration of the garden. He was joined by Alberta Premier Rachel Notley, Lt.-Gov. Lois Mitchell and university president David Turpin.

Watch below: A massive garden just outside Edmonton received a visit from the Aga Khan on Tuesday. Fletcher Kent reports.

While the garden is now closed for the season, there may be some opportunities to see it before its official season begins in the spring.

“We reopen on May 1 and we’ll run all the way through Thanksgiving,” Foote said. “There may be some surprise little things this winter with our new Luminaria spreading out.”

Watch below: After almost a decade of planning and months of construction, the highly anticipated Aga Khan Garden is set to open at the University of Alberta Botanic Garden in Devon on Friday.

© 2018 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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