Gerda Alderson

Gardeners reveal their secrets

What has been a well-kept secret won’t be for very long. People who live in Sooke might not be aware of the goings on behind the hedges and gates on properties scattered around the area but, on Sunday, June 5 from 10 a.m/ to 5 p.m., they have a chance to find out.

Sooke’s Secret Garden Tour is a self-guided garden tour where interested folks can talk to gardeners, stroll through other people’s yards, bid on auction items, listen to music, feast their eyes on classic cars, and shop for plants. It’s all part of the annual fundraiser for the Sooke Philharmonic Orchestra.

Nine years ago, Gerda and John Alderson moved into a house along the edge of the Strait of Juan de Fuca. They are avid gardeners and their property is a testament to their dedication and passion. As you approache their driveway the tantalizing scent of heather welcomes you into the gardens where you are greeted by a profusion of colourful plants and shrubs. They have chosen plants that would grow well in this coastal climate and nurtured them to perfection.

The amazing space they live in wasn’t always as it is now. When they first acquired the property along Austin’s Place, they dug the whole yard up by hand. They didn’t want the mess a backhoe would make. They even saved the “Sooke potatoes” and used them for the landscaping. Sooke potatoes are rocks. They got rid of the 10’ high hogweed and scrub that was obscuring their view of the water and built hedges to protect them from the winds which blow fast and furious along the Strait, and to afford them some privacy. Then they really got to work.

“I brought my plants with me, 150 pots with several plants in each,” said Gerda.

They moved to Sooke from Salt Spring Island where they had first retired to but found their relatively inaccessible property difficult as they advanced in years. Another house and another garden in Sooke soon demanded their attention.

They haven’t stopped planning and planting and are continually moving  plants around as they get to big for the space. John built a small bridge over a dry “creek bed” and a greenhouse using salvaged glass windows. They do  everything themselves, it’s all a part of their lifestyle. They have created different spaces in their yard allowing them to move around to where the sun is or isn’t. Their biggest problem, like many Sooke gardeners is the deer. While they don’t mind sharing space with them they do get distressed when a treasured plant is stripped naked one year when it wasn’t previously. But they have learned to live with the deer and the bears which from time to time wander through the area.

“We did what we like,” said John.

The Alderson’s story is pretty similar to many others who are willing to showcase their gardens in the secret Garden Tour. It is a true labour of love and it shows.

“We did what we like,” said John in explaining their garden plan.

The Secret Garden Tour takes in a wonderful blend of ornamental, oceanfront and view gardens. Water features, garden structures, a plethora of plants and shrubs, as well as creative and comfortable sitting areas which are all on display. Gather ideas and take photos for use in your own garden. There will be refreshments in selected gardens and members of the Sooke Philharmonic will be playing music.

Your ticket is your detailed map to all of the 10 gardens on the tour. Tickets can be purchased in Sooke at Shoppers’ Drug Mart, People Drug Mart, Westburn Garden Centre and Double D Gardens. Tickets are also available in Victoria at Gardenworks, Art Knapps at Mattick’s Farm and Dig This. For details call 250-642-1397 or log onto www.sookephil.ca. Tickets available June 5 outside Peoples’ Drug Mart. Event happens rain or shine.

Just Posted

Number of SD62 kindergarten registrations about same as last year

Approximately 850 kindergarten registrations for 2019/2020 school year

VicPD faces ‘significant pressure’ following Victoria’s 2019 budget decision

Chief Const. Del Manak says council continues to micromanage his department

Work set to begin on removing Sooke’s derelict boats from waterways

Seven boats earmarked to be removed this spring

28 years later: Dunahee disappearance remains largest investigation in Victoria police history

The four-year old Victoria boy went missing without a trace on March 24, 1991

Protective human chain forms around Victoria mosque for Friday prayer

Islanders stand arm-in-arm to show support in aftermath of New Zealand shootings

‘Families torn apart:’ Truck driver in fatal Broncos crash gets 8-year sentence

Judge Inez Cardinal told court in Melfort, Sask., that Sidhu’s remorse and guilty plea were mitigating factors

Vancouver Island motorists attempted CPR on victim in fatal Highway 4 crash

Collision took place west of Whiskey Creek; man in his 70s died

WestJet sticking with Boeing 737 Max once planes certified to fly

WestJet had expected to add two more of the planes this year to increase its fleet to 13

B.C. driver caught going 207 km/h on motorcycle along Okanagan Highway

A motorcyclist was caught by Kelowna RCMP going 207 km/h on Highway 97C

Motorcyclist dies after three-vehicle crash on old Island Highway

Accident happened at 12:15 p.m. Friday near Country Club Centre in Nanaimo

SOOKE HISTORY: Grandma Sue shared First Nations’ traditions with visitors

Elida Peers | Contributed We have had a number of books published… Continue reading

B.C. fire department offers tips to keep your home safe during wildfire season

With wildfire season getting closer, the Penticton Fire Dept. offer tips to keep your home safe

Fierce house cat spotted as ‘aggressor’ in face off with coyote in B.C. backyard

North Vancouver resident Norm Lee captures orange cat versus coyote in backyard showdown

Most Read