Imagine strolling through a vast garden, along curved, well-maintained trails, surrounded by more than 2,500 plants all imported from different locations around the world.
This isn’t a public garden. It’s one of the nine privately owned gardens open to the public next weekend during the 11th annual Chilliwack Rotary Garden Tour on Saturday.
The 2.5-acre imported-plant garden is owned by Chris and Jane Byra and has a stunning view atop Chilliwack Mountain, on Honeysuckle Drive, overlooking the mighty Fraser River.
“Virtually every plant is labelled with the Latin name, common name, and where it’s from,” says Dianne Darke, chairperson of the tour (pictured below).
Below the Byras are their neighbours, Nancy and Bill Singer, whose house is also one of the stops on the tour. The Singers, too, are on a 2.5-acre plot of land, and they’re surrounded by more than 1,000 rhododendrons, plus Japanese maples, azaleas, hydrangeas and more.
“It’s like a little utopia,” says Bill Singer.
Both the Byras and the Singers have spent thousands of hours over the years building and maintaining their gardens without hired help.
“We love being outside, we love exercise, and we love gardening,” says Singer.
There are ten stops on this year’s Chilliwack Rotary Garden Tour — nine are privately owned gardens, and the 10th is Minter Gardens.
The nine gardens range in size from 2.5 acres to small city-sized lots, like the Clarke garden on Wells Road. And they vary in shape, too. The Fox garden is a steep bowl shape on Sunrise Drive, and the Clouatres own a beautiful corner lot on Wiltshire Road.
Each year, the gardens featured on the tour are new. None of the gardens is featured more than once, which makes it new and exciting every year for the guests, says Darke.
The tour attracts three different types of visitors — the hardcore gardeners, those looking for ideas for their own garden, and people who are simply out for a nice day in Chilliwack.
“The function of the garden tour is to raise money for charity, to give people ideas as to what they can do in their own gardens, plus it’s a community project so that people can see the beauty of Chilliwack,” says Darke.
The tour is hosted by the Rotary Club of Chilliwack, and all of the money from ticket sales goes to local and international charities.
Every year, the Chilliwack Rotary Garden Tour brings people from all over the Lower Mainland and Fraser Valley to Chilliwack. Many are first-time visitors.
“People often say, ‘I had no idea that Chilliwack was so beautiful,’” says Darke.
The Chilliwack Rotary Garden Tour runs from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Saturday, June 22. Tickets are $20 and can be purchased at several different locations, including The Chilliwack Progress office. Tickets include a one-day entry to Minter Gardens for either June 22 or June 23.
For more info, including ticket locations and garden locations, go to www.chilliwackrotarygardentour.ca.