Garden tour this weekend

Blooms of Oceanside area will be on full display

Garden tour organizer Linda Derkach is hoping for a big turnout for the MARS garden tour this year.

If there’s one thing that can be said about the Oceanside area in spring: it’s blooming lovely.

This weekend, residents will get an opportunity to experience some of that petal perfection as the Mount Arrowsmith Rhododendron Society presents their 20th annual Garden Tour.

Society spokesperson Marilyn Dawson said this year’s event will feature 13 gardens, stretching from San Paraleil to Nanoose Bay.

“Some of them are huge, with one five-acre property,” she said. “It’s not just rhodo gardens either. It’s a really mixed bag. There are two or three that are really collectors’ items.” 

The gardens, she said, are chosen for their design, choice of plants and — for rhododendron fans — the variety of interesting rhododendrons.

“They are such a diverse group of plants,” she said. 

Because the tour takes place on the Mother’s Day weekend, Dawson said there are often mother and son or mother and daughter teams checking out the blooms.

“This is a special mothers day event. A lot of people bring mothers and grandmothers, she said. “They break for brunch or lunch at some fancy spot 

This year’s tour, Dawson added, includes a couple of special features.

“One of the interesting things is that we are including the gardens of Pacific Shores Resort which is 15 acres, she said. “It’s a huge garden that winds itself around the various condos and down by the water and various places. They’ll be serving tea in the tent between noon and 2 p.m.”

As well, she continued, club members plan to hold a special dedication ceremony at an alpine garden that was created in memory of Eswyn Lyster of Qualicum Beach.

“It’s a special garden at Nanoose Place across from the Gap,” she said. 

It has just been created for Eswyn, who was a great alpine enthusiast and alpine garden enthusiast.

The garden dedication is slated for 11 a.m. on Saturday.

To take part in the garden tour, flower fans just need to purchase a ticket for $15 from local nurseries, Milner Gardens and Woodland or Mulberry Bush bookstores. 

The ticket includes a map showing the location of the various gardens on the tour, which runs from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. on both Saturday and Sunday.

“You start wherever you want with your map,” she said. “The ticket explains the different gardens and what to look for, so you can pick and choose. 

“Some people start at the end of the 13 gardens and go backwards and some just pick and choose what they want to see.”

All proceeds from the garden tour go towards the club’s horticultural projects, as well as providing a bursary to a Vancouver Island University student.


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