Sooke Philharmonic Orchestra's Secret Garden Tour set for June 6.

Sooke’s best kept secret… garden tour

Each year the best gardens in the Sooke area open to garden lovers

When Nancy Pappajohn and Tony Hodgson saw the house on Kirby Road they slammed on the brakes. They fell in love with the quaint little white house with its expansive yard. That was eight years ago and their love of the property is evident in the plantings, maintenance and upgrades they have accomplished by getting their hands in the dirt.

In referring to the previously over-grown gardens, Pappajohn said, “There was lots of old stuff and I knew this could keep me out of trouble for years.”

Her philosophy about the garden was to leave everything where it was, allow plants to spread and introduce new varieties wherever and whenever needed. Pappajohn discovered old overgrown stone paths when she started weeding and she reclaimed the areas and put her own stamp on the garden. An old fence is cleverly disguised by planting the gardens in front and essentially making the fence disappear. The goldfish and koi pond was in place when they purchased the property and they have had fish in it ever since. Canaries and finches winter in the aviary and provide bright notes throughout the year.

“I can’t think of any other place I would like to live,” said Pappajohn.

The gardens are as pretty in the winter as they are in the summer. In February there are crocuses scattered throughout and colourful plantings like Japanese maples lend interest.

Her garden is mostly flowers because, as she said, she can buy fruits and vegetables and her love is for growing flowers.

The property is number three on the Sooke Philharmonic Society’s 2015 Secret Garden Tour and was once owned by Sooke’s first mayor, Ed Macgregor.

“I really love this garden,” said Sue Hyslop, one of the organizers for the Secret Garden Tour.

This year there are 11 properties on the Sunday, June 7 tour. The tour includes many lovely and unique gardens but also features music in the gardens, classic cars, artists and artisans, a plant sale and refreshments. There is also a shuttle service. It’s a whole day of exploring and enjoying the hard work of the area’s passionate gardeners.

The tour extends from Connie Road to Henlyn and up to Willowpark Way.

Ornamental plantings, ponds, courtyards, gazebos, rockeries, aviaries,waterfalls and greenhouses are all open for viewing during the tour.

“There are all different types of gardens,” said Hyslop. “There are some city gardens and some rural gardens.”

Tickets are $20 and are available in Sooke at Shoppers and Peoples Drug Mart, Little Vienna Bekery, The Stick in the Mud, Shirley Delicious and Westburn Garden Centre. In Victoria and area they can be purchased at Lynne’s Little Elf Garden, Garden Works, Dig This and Down to Earth. Same day tickets can be purchased at the tour kiosk at Connie Road. (For more info: http://www.sookesecretgardens.com/ssgt/)

The Secret Garden Tour is a major fundraiser for Sooke’s Philharmonic Society. The Sooke Philharmonic Orchestra was founded in 1997 by Norman Nelson and now has 60 members ranging in age from 13-86 years of age. (www.sookephil.ca).