Gardens of Metro Vancouver: Darts Hill Garden - South Surrey

by - May 21, 2021

Among the many beautiful gardens in BC, is the Darts Hill Garden Park, a 22.5 acre private estate located just a little off White Rock in South Surrey. Though the estate itself is fairly large, only a smaller part is the garden which is accessible to the public. 

Darts Hill Garden Park was the private garden of Francisca and Edwin Darts who donated their private 7.5 acre garden to the city as part of a 999-year agreement to open the property to the public. The donation of Darts Hill Garden was made in 1994, during the lifetime of Mr. and Mrs. Darts, at which time the City of Surrey purchased 15 acres of neighbouring land to make the place what it is today.

The lady, Ms. Francisca Dart was an avid gardener, and it was her vision and 60 years of dedication and work that resulted in the variety of plants seen today. Francisca transformed what was originally a logged area of land into an award-winning orchard, filled with apple, pear, apricot and walnut trees. After seeing an exhibit by the Alpine Garden Club of BC at the Pacific National Exhibition, she joined organizations devoted to horticulture, including the Royal Horticulture Society, where she received the seeds of many rare and unusual plants, shrubs and trees, transforming the landscape into what is now Darts Hill. 

After bequeathing Darts Hill to the city – and losing her husband the following year – Francisca continued to live on the acreage and oversee the garden until just last month, when she moved to a retirement facility.

The main horticulturist who manages is the garden is Randal Atkinson, who is also the chair of the board at Darts Hill. The horticulturist has been involved with the board at Darts Hill for five years, but spent many years prior to that visiting the lush garden looking at the rare plants inhabiting more than seven acres. During those visits, he learned about the history of the garden and the people behind it.

It probably has taken an army to keep up the Darts Hill Garden Park, where almost all the plants are labelled and categorized, including some lichen. Not only that but you see some interesting items, such as this random totem. 

Presently there is still a private residence on the property and the garden remains semi-private, opening only on designated days. Based on my experience, it is open usually on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays, with an admission of $5. You can go on the website to see their open days.

Definitely worth a visit. This can be combined with a trip to the Surrey Museum.

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