Submitted by gsparrow on
Pamela Yokome

DARTS HILL GARDEN PARK has long been considered the secret garden of the Metro Vancouver area in British Columbia, Canada. The garden, with its treasure trove of rare and unusual trees, shrubs, and perennials, was the lifework of Francisca and Edwin Darts. It had its start as a logged acreage which, with years of hard work and a little dynamite, became an award-winning fruit and nut orchard before gradually transforming into an internationally known plantsman’s garden. The garden was donated to the City of Surrey in the 1990s with the guidance that “Darts Hill Garden Park shall be maintained in perpetuity as a ‘Plantsman’s Garden’ in the spirit of the vision of Edwin and Francisca Darts.”

Darts Hill’s relationship with NARGS and the Alpine Garden Club of British Columbia (AGC-BC) began decades ago with Francisca Darts’ membership in both clubs. These relationships were reignited in 2011 with a joint venture project to build two distinct rock gardens at Darts Hill Garden Park. A basalt rock and sand bed was constructed and planted with sun-loving alpines in 2012.
The second alpine bed is a much larger tufa bed with stone steps leading to the top of a small mountain. This bed was built in the fall of 2013 by the same group of volunteers from the AGC-BC and the Darts Hill Garden Conservancy Trust Society volunteers (DHGCTS) and funded by the City of Surrey. In 2014, the Society applied to NARGS for a grant from the Norman Singer Endowment Fund and was delighted to be awarded $1,480 U.S. to aid in the purchase of plants for this bed. This grant enabled the purchase and importation of almost a hundred saxifrages from Mendle Nursery in England to establish the beginnings of the collection of porphyrion (Kabschia) saxifrages. Plants were also purchased from Wrightman Alpines and the AGC-BC plant sales. The saxifrages have done very well with few losses and put on quite a show beginning very early spring, so early that at times they have been peeking out from under snow.
The NARGS Norman Singer Endowment Fund is intended to be a resource in support of special, one-time projects that advance the art and science of rock gardening. The funds granted to DHGCTS have greatly enlarged the plant collection growing in these two alpine beds and have attracted new visitors to the garden and led to a very co-operative relationship between the garden and the AGC-BC. Members have enjoyed tours and workshops, held their fall 2020 plant sale in the garden, and have donated many additional plants to the beds. The DHGCTS propagation group has grown many new plants from cuttings of these special saxifrages that are quite difficult to source in America and made them available to alpine gardening enthusiasts. The society is very thankful for the gift from NARGS Norman Singer Endowment Fund.
For more information about Darts Hill Garden or if you would love to read the new book about the garden please see the Darts Hill Garden Park Conservancy Trust Society’s website: