When you discover Darts Hill Garden Park in Surrey British Columbia, you will want to tell others about it. It's not just the gardens, although they are lovely. Equally important is the inspirational story behind the gardens. When Edwin and Francisca Darts purchased this land, it looked nothing like it does today. Specifically it was an overgrown second growth forest at that time. First they turned it into a working orchard. Francisca Darts had a clear vision to create a garden unlike any other. With this in mind they collected trees, shrubs and perennials from around the world. Finally they turned it into the gem it is today.
Darts Hill Garden Conservancy Trust Society
Eventually the Darts family donated the garden to the City of Surrey. They wished the garden to be used "as a horticultural centre for the preservation, enhancement, and development of plants." Accordingly, the Conservancy Trust Society works with the City of Surrey to help carry out these aims.
Special Events and Tours
Check online about special events such as plants sales. From time to time there is also live music scheduled. See the online calendar for dates. Imagine an afternoon strolling about the park with music playing in the background. Furthermore It is also possible to book a private two-hour tour for your group. Or arrange a golf cart tour.
Early May is an ideal time to see the rhododendron and azalea bushes in bloom. Some of the rhododendron are ten, fifteen, and perhaps even twenty feet high. Between the parking lot and the entrance, I saw the first bushes alive with colour. Then I passed through a wooded area complete with little paths. There, among the trees, some rhododendron reached high up towards the sun. Then back into the open areas where they lined paths. Sooner or later I'd turn a corner and there would be another display. In many colours: rose, white, yellow, red, mauve, pink!
This park has limited access. It is only open from April to the end of September each year. It is only open on Friday, Saturday, and Sundays between the hours of 10:00 am and 4:00 pm. Consequently it is always wise to check online before planning a visit. Admission is by donation.
As I walked through Darts Hill Garden Park, I recognized many trees and shrubs. But every now and then I'd be surprised by something unique. There are 21 featured trees in the park. Just to name a few listed on their brochure:
Heritage Hybrid Walnut
Wedding Cake Dogwood
More Trees than on the Featured List
There was a beautiful tree with a very distinctive trunk. A sign at the base of the tree that told me it was a Scots Pine. Interesting foliage appeared here and there. In the distance I saw a massive tree covered in what I thought were small yellow flowers. As I walked closer, I realized that the Variegated Chinese Elm had delicate yellow leaves, not flowers at all. Eventually I wish to return and see what it looks like in a few weeks.
This lovely park in Surrey British Columbia has many pathways. The attendants at the entrance of Darts Hill Garden Park gave me a laminated map which helped me find my way around areas like Nut Orchard or Lower Orchard. There are pathways with names like West Magnolia Walk and Augustinii Walk. There is a pond in the park and a Native Plant Demonstration Garden. Additionally there are also places to stop, sit, and simply enjoy the surroundings.
The Size of the Property Today
When the Darts owned the property, it was 7.5 acres. Eventually the City of Surrey purchased the adjoining property of 15 acres. So now the total size of the property is 22.5 acres. This now includes a large parking lot as well as washroom facilities on the way to the main entrance.
Darts Hill Garden Park is a gardener's dream, the dream of Francisca Darts. It is also a wonderful place for a photographer to visit. As a result, when I sorted through the pictures at the end of the day, it was a difficult job choosing which photos to include here.
If you are looking for something special to do, perhaps a birthday or anniversary celebration, a visit to Darts Hill Garden Park might be just the event. It's beautiful. It's inspirational. It's a lovely way to spend an hour or two out of doors.
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Love that Himalayan Blue Poppy photo Diane and of course all the other photos of this amazing garden. Okay, I must comment, these people who travel the world and collect trees, shrubs and flowers for visionary parks that become a reality. Envy. On thinking further, I guess there would be some challenges to this activity such as how do you get all those samples back home, seed collections practical, however, large trees? It is good that there have been such pioneers so we can all enjoy these plants in such unique parks such as this, must have been a great adventure!
Good point, Kim. I hadn't thought how they would have done that. It was quite some time ago so possibly they were shrub-sized when they brought them home. It just amazes me that someone thought of doing it and then actually carried out their plans.
Beautiful colours. I can smell the flowers from here.