South Surrey open garden draws crowd

Hydrangea collection said to be Canada's largest on display.

More than one hundred varieties of hydrangeas were on display at a South Surrey open garden Sunday.

Hundreds of garden enthusiasts flocked to South Surrey Sunday to catch a glimpse of a collection of hydrangeas touted as the biggest in Canada.

The annual open garden, hosted by Barry Roberts and his wife, Goretti, at their 34 Avenue home, featured 130 varieties of award-winning hydrangeas growing throughout the sprawling property, as well as on display in pots for sale.

Roberts, who moved to the Peninsula from England upon retirement 13 years ago, said what began as a hobby cultivating the colourful flower has “grown into an obsession.”

A member of the South Surrey Garden Club, Roberts said the West Coast climate is suitable for growing hydrangeas, which provide him with a nice challenge each season. Depending on the species or variety, they also flower for a long time – some starting as early as May and others flowering well into the fall.

“I have a garden filled with dark green, morbidly depressing evergreen tree leaves, often incorrectly referred to as cedars,” Roberts explained, noting the hydrangeas help to brighten up his yard considerably.

Roberts is now something of a hydrangea expert; he has spoken at dozens of gardening clubs around the Lower Mainland and beyond and has a home-based business selling the plants in the summer months.

Sunday’s event saw more than 200 attendees, Roberts estimated, including members of a garden club from Coquitlam. Canadian Cancer Society volunteers were also on hand, selling refreshments.

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