Billowing and blossoming shrubs, stately towering trees and drifts of flowers greet visitors at the Dart’s Hill Garden Park. From its conception, a mere 70 years ago, this garden park has matured into a beautiful oasis. This 7.5 acre garden has something for everyone. There are numerous plant collections including rare plants for us plant lovers, heritage trees, an old but well-kept apple orchard, a pond, stream and borders crammed with plants of all kinds.
Huge rhododendrons thrive underneath the expansive tree canopies. The lush undergrowth features swaths of pink primroses, blue bluebells and yellow leopard’s bane daisies.
Although Darts Hill feels and looks very natural, the gardens were created by Francisca Dart. With help from her husband Ed, Francisca laid out the gardens and filled them with rare and unusual trees and shrubs. It’s a plant lover’s utopia with old-boned trees providing living walls and ceilings made from their leaf laden branches. The resulting dappled shade are the perfect conditions for many plants, especially rhododendrons, camellias, primroses and azaleas.
It was a sunny day in May when I visited Darts Hill with the Dunbar Garden Club. The timing was perfect as the rhododendrons were on full display. It was breathtaking. I especially loved the path lined with blue-flowering Rhododendron augustinii... and the pond.
The pond is so serene. Its babbling brook spills over strategically placed rocks into the still pool below. It is beautifully landscaped with a perfectly situated bench to admire the view. My pictures do not do it justice.
For those that need a retaining wall, check out the dry-stacked stone wall. Although it was just installed, it looks like it had been there for centuries. The accompanying garden was being planted as we passed, labels included. Since this is a gardener’s garden with many rare plants and plant collections, most of the plant are labelled. This takes the guesswork out of plant identification and notes specific varieties and cultivars.
The Darts house still stands and rises above a vast expanse that includes a heritage apple orchard. But it's the humongous heritage walnut tree (Juglans cinerea x J. siebolidiana v. 'Cordiformis'), that steels the show. Its branches are so long and heavy, they are supported with metal braces.
Eventually Francesca had to give up the garden but instead of selling the property to developers, Francesca donated it to the City of Surrey in 1994. Along with the city, the non-profit Darts Hill Garden Conservancy Trust Society, work together to educate, protect, maintain and cultivate this little piece of paradise in South Surrey.
The garden is open to the public from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. on most Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays in April, May, June, July, and September. They also have special open Houses on May 26, September 22, and October 20. Tours are also available, which I recommend as there is so much to see. Become a member for extended openings and opportunities to volunteer. For more information go to Dart’s Hill.
Here are some of my previous blog postings. They cover a wide range of topics from bugs to my botanical excursions and conventions. Click on whichever interests you on the titles below for easy navigation.