The Denman Home and Garden Tour runs June 11-12, 9:30 a.m.-5 p.m. (last entry 4:30 p.m.). Tickets are $25. Photo supplied

Denman Island’s Home and Garden Tour slated for June

For the past 31 years, Denman Island has periodically thrown open its garden gates and welcomed green thumbs from across the island to an event once called by the Globe & Mail “one of Canada’s top six horticultural events.”

The biennial event is not just an opportunity to showcase elegant flower beds and innovative building techniques, it is also a major fundraising event for the Denman Conservancy Association, which has been protecting rare and fragile ecosystems on the island since 1991.

“This year’s tour really highlights the creativity and skill of the participants. So many of the homes were designed and built by the current owners as family projects,” says JoAnne Shepherd co-organizer of the fundraiser. “Over decades, clear-cuts and blackberry patches have been transformed into these beautiful gardens. It is so exciting to see, and so inspiring.”

The home and garden of writer and broadcaster Des Kennedy, and his partner Sandy, is a piece of living Denman history. Having been featured in numerous TV programs, books, and magazines, it is perhaps the most famous example of the back to the land movement which brought many urban refugees to Denman’s shores in the 1970s.

A spectacular ornamental garden and productive fruit and veggie garden is surrounded by rainforest, creating a welcome habitat for birds and pollinators. The alchemy between wild and cultivated beauty is magical, and it is a theme that also carries through many of the other participating properties.

One such property, the home of Barb and John Mills, was built with a post and beam porch, decks, and window seats that all allow for birdwatching and the occasional visit from deer. Adjacent to the house is an eclectic garden of vegetables, rhododendrons and fragrant roses; though the owners left two-thirds of the property in a natural state to support the wildlife that inspires the pottery and sculptural work on view in their studio.

The drive to reconnect with the land – and to do so respectfully – seems as relevant today as it was when the Kennedys came in the ’70s. Along with the new generation of homesteaders such as the Millses, there are small-scale orchards and farms appearing. East Cider Orchard, Corlan Vineyard, and Two Roads Farm are both literal and visual feasts and will be welcoming visitors over the tour weekend.

In total, 13 unique properties will be on display. The Home and Garden Tour runs June 11-12, 9:30 a.m.-5 p.m. (last entry 4:30 p.m.). Tickets are $25, and can be purchased in the Comox Valley at Blue Heron Books, Art Knapp, and Rusty Rooster, or online at

More information, including a list of participating properties, can be found at, or contact

Added incentive for cyclists

Organizers would like to see cyclists take over the island during the post-COVID return of the event. As an incentive, there will be a free draw for those biking the tour, to win a basket of prizes.

“This is a way to encourage and appreciate everyone who rides their bike,” said media co-ordinator Katarina Meglic. “Given that the tour is all about raising money for conservation, we’re thrilled that we can reward green transportation. With our ever-increasing awareness of climate change, it seems ever more relevant.” Another advantage of cycling the tour for off-islanders, is no waiting to get on the ferry during this busy weekend.

To enter the cyclists’ draw, simply enter your name at the ticket centre beside the Community Hall, to win one of two gift baskets containing a variety of items, edible and otherwise.

“In past years we’ve had over 100 people cycling the tour,” said Meglic. “It makes a visual impact on our roads, and we hear from people who cycle that they loved the experience of being outdoors and seeing the island in a new way.”

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