Chilliwack’s Rotary Garden Tour offers peek behind the fence

Gardens big and small all on display at this weekend's Chilliwack Rotary Club Garden and Lifestyles Tour.

Fred and Anne Hails prepare their front yard for the annual Chilliwack Rotary Club Garden & Lifestyles Tour. This year

Fred and Anne Hails prepare their front yard for the annual Chilliwack Rotary Club Garden & Lifestyles Tour. This year

The lavender in Anne and Fred Hails’ garden is busy with bees on a summer afternoon.

The fragrant rosemary grows chest high, and their fruit trees are filling with a small but healthy harvest. In one corner, an old oriental statue of a man seems to be tending the garden. In another, a bench sits in the shade of an arbor.

Separately, each detail is a hallmark of a well-tended, thoughtful garden.

But together, they create an everyday oasis in the heart of the city.

The Hails’ garden encompasses their entire city lot, where there isn’t a patch of grass in sight. In reshaping, replanting, and redecorating their property, the Hails have created what is arguably the smallest garden on the upcoming 13th Annual Chilliwack Rotary Club’s Garden and Lifestyles Tour. But it’s also one of the most compact, packing quite a punch from the moment you step onto their front walkway right through to the backyard’s themed areas.

Just inside the white picket fence, it’s easy to forget that a city street is only steps away. And as you meander around a curling pathway, there are plentiful wonders to enjoy. It could take hours to explore this little plot of land.

The Hails were inspired to re-imagine their space after taking in a Chilliwack Rotary Garden Tour. Many of the featured gardens are beautiful, sprawling acreages. So at first, Anne says, she felt the large acreage gardens weren’t relatable to her. With their small city lot, how could they ever create the same effects?

But with a little ingenuity, a few sketches of basic plans, and plenty of elbow grease, they have managed to build something of a miracle. And it’s paid off in more than just flowers and fruit. After years of living on the street somewhat anonymously, their new garden has resulted in new friendships.

“I didn’t know the neighbours until we started doing this,” Anne says, smiling in her front garden. “To me this felt more like the English garden backyards where people stop in and visit.”

It grew “bit by bit” she says, as time and inspiration allowed.

There are whimsical touches and homages to various facets of life in Chilliwack, including a themed garden for city workers. On the weekend of the garden tour, there may even be a chance to spot some members of the Royal Family.

The Hails’ garden is one of 11 that have been chosen for the tour, and each garden is unique in its own way. They stretch from Little Mountain to Chilliwack Mountain, from downtown to Sardis, and as far out as Greendale. Participants of the tour are given a map to follow, and signs will be placed around town to help navigate from home to home. There is no set order for visiting, and the gardens are open from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Rotarians will be on site at the entrance to each garden, and there will be chances to vote for People’s Choice Award.

Homeowners along the tour have been busily working on the final touches for the tour, ensuring every detail is in place for the big day.

But even if the gardens look perfect for the tour, being held July 11, Rotarian and tour organizer Diane Darke notes that a yard and garden is never truly finished in the eyes of its caretaker.

There’s always one more corner to perfect, one more detail to add

Tickets are available at Little Mountain Garden Centre, Minter Country Garden, Fortins in Vedder, and Tourism Chilliwack. To buy tickets online, visit

All the money collected from ticket sales goes toward Rotarian efforts locally. This year alone, the Rotary has given $32,000 in scholarships, has donated to help update the Chilliwack Great Blue Heron Reserve, and the Vedder River trail. The Rotary also has donated to the Chilliwack General Hospital ($100,000), Chilliwack Cultural Centre ($100,000), and are working to help eradicate polio in third world countries.

Darke reminds participants to bring along their own water for the tour, due to the recent hot weather.





Just Posted

BC Wildfire Service (Black Press Media files)
Fire at Eleven Mile Creek near Hope classified as out of control

It’s a small blaze so far at 20 hectares, but firefighters don’t yet have a handle on it

A drone’s-eye view of the Agassiz-Rosedale Bridge. (Screenshot/Shutter Speed Network)
Kent Council advocates for a wider Agassiz-Rosedale Bridge

Council voted unanimously to send letter of concern to transportation ministry

Tourism Abbotsford has launched the ‘Let’s Go Do Something’ campaign to encourage visitors to check out all Abbotsford has to offer. (Tourism Abbotsford photo)
Tourism Abbotsford launches ‘Let’s Go Do Something’ campaign

Visitors encouraged to check out all Abbotsford has to offer this summer

Emil Anderson Maintenance is mowing the shoulder along Lougheed Highway in Agassiz, asking motorists to use extra caution around slow-moving vehicles on Tuesday and Wednesday. (Graphic/Emil Anderson Maintenance)
TRAFFIC: Slow-moving mowers working on Highway 7 shoulders in Agassiz on Tuesday, Wednesday

Mowing takes place Tues., Weds. between 8 a.m. and 3:30 p.m.

Temperature records were broken for June 21, 2021. (Black Press Media file photo)
Record-breaking heat shimmered across Fraser Valley for second day

Tuesday should be a bit cooler says forecast from Environment Canada

The border crossing into the United States is seen during the COVID-19 pandemic in Lacolle, Que. on February 12, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Paul Chiasson
VIDEO: Border quarantine to soon lift for fully vaccinated Canadians

Eligible travellers must still take multiple COVID-19 tests

Penticton mayor John Vassilaki and Minister of Housing David Eby have been battling over the Victory Church shelter and BC Housing projects in the city. (File photos)
Penticton heads to court over homeless shelter as BC Housing audit begins

The city was not satisfied with the response from Minister David Eby regarding the ongoing situation

People enjoy the sun at Woodbine Beach on June 19, 2018. THE CANADIAN PRESS/ Tijana Martin
BC Hydro assures customers it has ‘more than enough’ power to weather the heatwave

Despite an increase of pressure on the Western grid, blackouts are not expected like in some U.S. states

Air Canada planes sit on the tarmac at Pearson International Airport during the COVID-19 pandemic in Toronto on Wednesday, April 28, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
Pilots say no reason to continue quarantines for vaccinated international travellers

Prime minister says Canada still trying to limit number of incoming tourists

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Police closed off 16th Avenue between 232nd and 240th streets in Aldergrove Saturday night at the site of a reported motor vehicle accident. (Dan Ferguson/Langley Advance Times)
VIDEO: Survivors of rollover crash thank Good Samaritans for coming to their aid

Collision flipped vehicle into a 10-foot ditch on 16th Avenue in Langley

Val Litwin is the latest candidate to declare his bid for the B.C. Liberal leadership. (Litwin campaign video)
Political newcomer joins contest for B.C. Liberal leadership

Val Litwin a former B.C. Chamber of Commerce CEO

Golden Ears Mountains, captured in May 2021. (Black Press Media files)
2nd year of day passes required for entry into 5 provincial parks launches in B.C.

Pilot program seeks to protect the environment by addressing visitor surges amid the COVID-19 pandemic

Lincoln Mckoen. (YouTube)
Anglican bishop of the central Interior resigns over sexual misconduct allegations

Lincoln Mckoen was elected as a bishop of the Territory of the People region last year

Most Read