Sunday, May 12 marks the 24th year in a row that the North Island Rhododendron Society (NIRS) has opened the gardens of members and friends to welcome Comox Valley families to celebrate Mother’s Day with a profusion of blooms.
By fortunate coincidence, it seems the day is usually sunny, and many of the shrubs and flowers are at their peak of flowering.
This year, another bonus is that most of the gardens are first-timers on the tour – and although the garden of Adela and the late Roberts Smith has been on several times before it will be extra special this year. It is already in the process of being gussied and primped to perfection to coincide with a family wedding in June that will be held among the flowers.
The Smith’s garden is best known for its profusion of rhododendrons—more than 2,000 of them on seven acres of sloping hillside. When Adela and Roberts bought the property in 1993 it had a small collection of beds in front of the house and a lot of bush land.
Looking at the immaculate layout and design of Lily and John Vanderhorst’s new garden in Crowne Isle, it’s hard to believe that five years ago it was just a bare lot with a couple of shrubs and trees.
Gene and Sharon Scheidl describe their garden as “an English-style country garden in the city.” It has a strong sense of being a private sanctuary, not just a lawn with floral borders that features winding pathways and mature perennials.
Tickets cost $10 for all six gardens and include detailed driving directions as well as a coupon for a free draw for a prize rhododendron. The tours are from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. and are self-guided but garden owners are on hand to answer questions or provide additional information on specimens.
Tickets are available before the tour at Anderton Nursery, Art Knapp’s Plantland, Blue Heron Books and Home & Garden Gate. A limited number of tickets will be available at the gardens.