The Glades Woodland Garden In Surrey British Columbia will take your stress away. The trees and rhododendrons that surround you are so tall. A calmness seems to descend. The visitors talk in hushed tones. Reservations are required for time slots so it is never overcrowded. For this reason it would be a lovely place to meditate or sit on one of the many benches and write poetry. At the same time, it is wonderful to walk the many paths and enjoy the lovely blossoms.
The property known as The Glades has a two part history. In 1956 Lydia and Murray Stephen purchased a 5 acre parcel of land. It was second growth forest and blackberry bushes. To emphasize, they were able to look at the reality of their land and envision filling it with rhododendrons, azaleas and other shrubs and trees. Murray Stephen passed away 14 years later and the property started to decline. Under those circumstances Jim and Elfriede De Wolf were able to see what had been started and what it might become. In 1994 they purchased the land and set about restoring it. In 2002 the De Wolfs' gifted the property to the City of Surrey. They have life estate and continued input into the garden operations.
Many Paths at The Glades
When looking at the map, one might imagine that you can see the other paths easily. Because the trees are tall and the shrubs are full, it helps keep one path private from another. In the lower picture, the De Wolf's home stands in one corner of the property. Signage or low barricades remind the public not to intrude into the private space.
There are several water features at The Glades Woodland Garden. The largest of these is the pond with several water fountains and a rowboat at one end. The other water features are smaller but just as thoughtfully surrounded by a combination of open space and rhododendrons. As a result these areas are especially popular with visitors and their cameras.
There are a variety of sitting areas throughout the park. Here and there a bench is a welcome addition. Or you might discover a grouping of chairs. One of my favorites was a bench with a statue nearby.
It would be easy to assume the entire acreage is filled with rhododendrons and azaleas. Although there are over 1,500 rhododendron plants, there are other areas where they aren't featured. For example, there's an area of immense old growth trees with ferns dominating the undergrowth. Another area is filled with Green Chinese Timber Bamboo and black Mondo grass. There are several open grassy areas. There are also a number of exotic trees.
A Matter of Perspective
When visiting The Glades, you soon become aware of perspective. This is a park filled with mature trees and shrubs. In three of the pictures below, there are people in the distance. Specifically notice how the vegetation towers over their heads. In the picture with the bridge, it is easy to almost overlook the young woman in white standing under the spectacular and huge rhododendron.
It was the original dream of Murray Stephen to recreate something similar to the gardens he remembered from his native Scotland. With this in mind, he and his wife planted rhododendrons as well as other plants. As visitors stroll along the pathways of this same property today, it has to stir feelings of gratitude to see the beauty and variety of the blossoms. It's a little overwhelming to think that just two families, the Stephens and the De Wolfs, brought this amazing dream to life.
Seasonal Opening at The Glades Woodland Garden
The Glades is a seasonal garden. For example, in 2023 it is open to the public from May 6th to June 25th. In addition, the park is only open on Saturdays and Sundays from 10am to 4pm. Check online for tickets. Put it on your calendar for next year. You'll want to make this a yearly outing.
The dream continues. The City of Surrey is expanding the acreage of the park to include new feature gardens, parking and washrooms. There will also be gathering spaces and a new main entrance.
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Another great garden adventure with Diana Mohrsen . So good to see you all take in nature. Great photos Diana.
What gorgeous photos! It looks like you visited at the perfect time to capture all the summer blossoms. I bet fall will be beautiful there as well.
So many beautiful flowers Diana! Great article and I love all the colours! It still don’t feel like Summer here in Newfoundland!
Sonya Richmond Thanks! It's actually only open in May and June as far as I know. But I have it on my calendar to return next yet.
Such a beautiful place it is too bad it is limited to the public only to the weekends of two months out of the year. The timing makes sense due to the height of bloom season for rhododendrons and azaleas but surprised they don't offer more public access during the weeks of those two months or have it available at other times of the year. Even if limited at other times of the year, the park would still be beautiful even without the blooms. Perhaps, with the expansion project, public visiting times may also increase (I hope so). I guess with it still having the private residence, the DeWolfs' perhaps have input on the hours as well.
Great article Diana, I am learning about all the hidden places in Surrey that I never knew!
Kim, I think the lack of access is that it still is a private residence. Not sure of what the agreement was when they donated the land to the City of Surrey, but the family still lives there. Perhaps in the future there will be much more access.