Sue Hyslop, right, volunteer for the Sooke Philharmic, tours through Gail Armitage’s garden, which will be featured on the 10th annual Secret Garden Tour on June 3. (Dawn Gibson/Sooke News Mirror)

Sue Hyslop, right, volunteer for the Sooke Philharmic, tours through Gail Armitage’s garden, which will be featured on the 10th annual Secret Garden Tour on June 3. (Dawn Gibson/Sooke News Mirror)

Secret Garden Tour returns to Sooke

10th annual fundraiser takes place June 3

Some things just shouldn’t be kept a secret – like gardening techniques.

The Sooke Philharmonic is gearing up to host its 10th annual Secret Garden Tour on June 3.

“We do this to showcase gardens in the Sooke area,” said Sue Hyslop, a volunteer for the Sooke Philharmic and organizer of the event. “There are lots of unique ways of gardening, and essentially the tour is a personal invitation into people’s gardens.”

The event attracts people from all over the Island, and Hyslop added that people have come from as far as Europe to attend the tour.

“It gives people an opportunity to see gardens that they never would see otherwise,” said Hyslop. “We’ve been told people like to come and get ideas for their own gardens as well.”

One of the garden’s featured on the tour belongs to Gail Armitage, who lives on Henlyn Drive.

“I have a soft spot for music, and Sue is very convincing,” laughed Armitage while explaining why she wanted to be part of the tour. “I wanted to support the Sooke Philharmonic.”

Armitage’s garden is features wide range of different plants, some of her favourites being Japanese maple trees and mountain ash.

“I am passionate about greens, so there are a lot of different shades of it in my garden,” said Armitage.

Armitage described herself as a “sporadic gardener,” meaning she will garden for an entire day one day, and then maybe for only an hour or so the next.

“My yard has always been a work in progress. We moved here in 2006 and haven’t stopped working on it since,” said Armitage. “Something will die and we have to replace it, or we’ll want to change the look of something, so there’s always something to do.”

To lessen the work load, Armitage has an irrigation system in place that waters the plants on a timer. She has been spending most of her days out in the garden lately to prepare for the tour.

Also found in her yard is a pond, a giant rock wall decorated with native B.C. plants, a vegetable garden, potted plants, a sitting area, a green house and more.

Armitage has been featured on the tour once before in 2013, but this year she has added a whole new element to her garden: the entire front yard.

On the day of the tour, two master gardeners will be at Armitage’s garden answering questions.

“I like people to enjoy my garden as much as I do, so I’m excited to share it with everyone,” said Armitage.

This year’s tour runs from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. and will feature eight gardens with music, artists, classic cars, and a special stop at the Sooke Harbour House.

“Every year a few members of the orchestra will come and play in a couple of the gardens,” said Hyslop. “And weather depending, the Harbour House plans to have a little market area set up to feature local farmers’ products.”

The annual event is one of the Sooke Philharmonic’s biggest fundraisers, raising approximately $9000 each year.

Tickets cost $25 and can be purchased online at eventbright.com or in Sooke at Shoppers Drug Mart, Peoples Drug Mart, Stick in the Mud, Little Vienna Bakery, the Sooke Region Museum, or The Artisan’s Garden.

They can also be bought at Royal Bay Bakery in Metchosin, Garden Works in Oak Bay, Dig this in Sidney, and B. Dinter Nursery in Duncan.