A Garden Tour to Remember – May 28, 2016, Cowichan Valley

By Brenda Burch, Social Media Director, BC Iris Society

Thanks so much to everyone who has signed up for our ‘A GARDEN TOUR TO REMEMBER’ tour within the Cowichan Valley on Vancouver Island. We have filled one bus and are working on a second bus. There are still some seats available. Contact us today!

On May 28th, the BC Iris Society will hold a Garden Tour in the Cowichan Valley. It’s the first time our annual tour has been held in the Cowichan, and those of us who live here are putting together the best tour we can with gardens that either feature Iris or have some good Iris representation. Our year is so advanced with so much hot weather so far, many of us may not have Bearded or Siberian Iris still in bloom. But we are hoping there will be Japanese Iris and others available along with glorious garden design and imagery.

The Garden Tour will feature the following wonderful gardens:

The spectacular garden of Louise Neveau and Don Loewen will be included on our tour! We are very grateful to have this gardening dynamic duo open their absolutely glorious garden to the BC Iris Society group. Don and Louise have over 5 acres of property in beautiful Maple Bay and the garden is a real gardeners garden with awesome collections of Iris, hostas, feature trees, rhododendrons, Japanese Maples, etc. etc.

Liz and Al Murray have graciously agreed to open their garden situated on their beautiful and picturesque 7-acre farm where some of the most delicious lamb in the world is raised! The ‘bones’ of the garden are an awesome collection of both Magnolia trees and rhododendrons, but there are Iris here, there, and everywhere. They have a rock garden setting that is second to none in a large area of the garden. Overall, a fantastic garden that has often been featured at national and international conferences held on Vancouver Island.

Another confirmed garden on the tour is our Treasurer, Bill Dumont’s garden. A work in progress, Bill has spent careful time building up his site with fill, soil amendments, and planning to create excellent ‘bones’ for what will be a show garden for sure. Bill has an excellent selection of Iris in ground and he has the latest in automatic drip irrigation for his many plots. There are over 300 rhododendrons planted on the property which was once nearly a swamp. Bill cautions that we should emphasise it is a new garden but again, so great to see gardens in their early stages. Bill lives in the Cobble Hill area of the Cowichan Valley.

Also confirmed is Ian Efford’s garden. Ian was our guest Speaker at our AGM on March 5, 2016. Ian’s knowledge of all Iris species is advanced – particularly species Iris. Ian and his wife, Shirley, have developed a wonderful garden with all sorts of plants and shrubs, but the real show are the Iris! Ian and Shirley had, at one time, one of the largest species Iris collection in the world while living in Eastern Canada. Since moving to BC, they are well on their way to re-establishing that reputation!

Another garden to be featured is another Director, Malcolm Ho-You, Malcolm is a highly accomplished grower of both Iris and Peonies and a visit to his garden in Saltair (in between Chemainus and Ladysmith) would show some outstanding varieties in both species. There is a great deal to see in Malcolm’s garden. This is a day in the Cowichan Valley that isn’t to be missed.

For BCIS members, this bus/lunch/and tour to remember is $30.00 and for non-members, it’s $40.00.
Please mail your $30 for members or $40 for non-members BEFORE MAY 13 to Bill Dumont, 995 Hutchison Road, Cobble Hill, BC V0R 1C4. Cheques payable to British Columbia Iris Society. Please email Brenda Burch at me@brendaburch.ca if you have any questions.

We are working on some treats and learning opportunities at each garden. Please mark your calendars for May 28th. Cowichan is, after all, the warmland and considered one of the best growing climates in Canada.

Lastly, if you are travelling to attend the Garden Tour, with a little notice I can surely provide you with the ‘best’ places for accommodation – both economical and convenience-minded. If anyone is further interested, I could certainly provide a little tour of some of the many wineries in the Cowichan region and can make solid recommendations on all types and economic levels of restaurants. There are some of us in the Cowichan Valley who are happy to billet visitors as well. That would be a first come, first served basis!

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