Alpine Beds at Darts Hill Garden

It has been said that Darts Hill Garden started as a fruit orchard and it was a display by the Alpine Garden Club that prompted Francisca and Ed Darts to develop an interest in growing other plants. In October 2011 the Darts Hill Garden Conservancy Trust Society approached the Alpine Garden Club of BC to see if there was interest in restoring some of the rock garden areas at Darts Hill Garden. On November 19, 2011 some members of the AGC of BC visited Darts Hill Garden accompanied by members of the Darts Hill Garden Conservancy Trust Society. Three areas were considered where there was the potential for rock garden development. All areas are located relatively close to the original Darts residence.

 Area 1 was a small rock garden southeast of the house consisting of a level bed above an attractive rock retaining wall. There were a number of rock garden plants growing in the bed but many had become too large. This bed was considered ideal as an alpine display garden as it is very accessible and in full sun.

 Area 2 is a triangular bed just east of Area 1 with a concrete retaining wall on the east side. The area is rather overgrown and is partly shaded by a tall tree. There are some pieces of tufa beside the path below. The area would be very suited to a Saxifrage garden plus other alpines that prefer, or are tolerant, of some shade.

 The third possible area is the part of the garden adjacent to the entrance to the property north of the original driveway. This large area would need a major effort in terms of planning and development but has the potential of providing a superb rock garden with the possibility of displaying plants of various ecosystems, for instance plants preferring alkaline growing conditions and those that prefer a more acidic environment or even a serpentine habitat. It would require considerable work and also rock, fill and possible removal of parts or all of the holly hedge, which no longer serves a function as a property line divider.

 In the spring of 2012, a combined work party of the Alpine Garden Club and the Darts Hill Conservancy Trust society completed renovation of Area 1. About two to three tons of blasted basalt rock of varying sizes and four to five yards of Sechelt Sand was delivered to the site with the financial support of the City of Surrey. About a metre depth of clay was dug out and a sub-irrigation system installed. One-quarter inch crushed rock was used for top dressing. Plants were purchased from the AGC of BC plant sale and from Beaver Creek Alpines. Additional plants were donated by club members. The photos show the progression of construction.