Sooke's Secret Garden Tour takes place on June 2. Nine gardens in the area will be showcased.

Discovering the secrets of West Coast gardens

Sooke Philharmonic Orchestra's Secret Garden Tour showcases area gardens

l it’s made out to be and it is secretive.

For the past five years, avid gardeners and nature lovers have been combing the Sooke region seeking out it’s most intriguing and wondrous hidden treasures – of the garden variety.

The Sooke Secret Garden Tour is in its fifth year and for one Sunday in June, local gardeners volunteer to showcase their gardens, farms and green spaces. On Sunday, June 2, nine properties will be open for viewing. Each year, the tour features different gardens and this year the properties stretch from Shirley to around Saseenos and many places in between. “We have the usual variety,” said organizer Margaret Lintern. “There are seaside ones, small ones, whimsical and witty ones.”

One of the gardens on the tour belongs to Eric and Irene Burns. Their Maple Street property is a combination of objects they love, plantings that work in their yard and a touch of humour.

The Burns spent many years in Saudi Arabia and have incorporated just a few mementos in their yard. They have been working on their garden since 2008 and spend many, many summer hours in their labour of love. Each year they built another project, like the small waterfall or the vegetable garden.

Irene does all of the planning and the planting while Eric keeps the notebooks of when things were planted or harvested. They have created a charming haven for themselves and their guests.

The tour offers glimpses of historic homes and farms, rocky hillsides, wilderness gardens and gazebos. It’s the perfect opportunity to see what others have done and what works in this West Coast climate.

The event is a fundraiser for the Sooke Philharmonic Orchestra, a semi-professional full-size orchestra in its 15th year. The orchestra presents a full season of entertainment for Southern Vancouver Island and includes the Chamber Players and the Philharmonic Chorus.

The Secret Garden Tour is best visited in sequence. There will be demonstrations and advice from garden experts and music presented by members of the Sooke Philharmonic Orchestra will be heard in some locations.

Garden lovers are encouraged to wear comfortable footwear and to dress for the weather. If you wish to purchase plantings, be sure to bring along boxes or bags. Volunteers will be around each garden to assist and a shuttle service is available to transports visitors at venues 5, 7, and 8.

Advance tickets can be purchased in Sooke at Shoppers and Peoples Drug Marts, and Double D Gardens. Tickets on the day of the tour will be available at Saseenos elementary school, Shoppers Drug Mart and Double D Gardens. For more information: www.sookesecretgarden.com or call Sue at 250-642-1397 or SPO 250-415-0999.