On Tuesday, June 21, 2011, we attended an open house event at Darts Hill Garden (http://www.dartshill.ca/). I had never heard of this site before, but it is truly a treasure. Set on 7.5 acres in South Surrey, the garden features a collection of rare plants, shrubs and trees.
The garden was cultivated over a period of sixty years by Edwin and Francisca Darts, and Francisca subsequently donated the site to the City of Surrey for public enjoyment. The gardens are cared for by the Darts Hill Society, which makes annual memberships available at a cost of only twenty dollars.
Among other benefits, members can enjoy monthly visits to the garden including guided tours and access to guest speakers. For non-members, the garden is generally open four times per year. Guided tours can also be booked at a cost of five dollars per person.
In addition to the abundant flora, there is significant fauna in and around the gardens. We saw evidence of deer and raccoons. Apparently, the ponds are inhabited by frogs, and the forest canopy supports a wide array of bird life.
The City of Surrey and Darts Hill Society continue to seek ways to preserve and enhance this incredible natural legacy, and there is talk of partnering with a local post-secondary institution to offer horticultural training. Watch for future open house events in the autumn. In the meantime, I recommend considering taking out a membership in the Darts Hill Society. For the nominal cost involved, it would definitely be an excellent investment!