Francisca Maria Darts. 1916 – 2012

Francisca died peacefully in her sleep on Dec. 26 after a lengthy illness. She was born in The Hague, Holland. As a young girl she emigrated with her family to Manitoba. She became an accomplished figure skater and later a champion curler. Music and sheep dogs were also a large part of her life. But her real passion was the 7.5 acres in South Surrey, BC that she and her husband Edwin (Ed) purchased in 1943. Here they cleared massive stumps and logs, planted fruit and nut trees, and built their home. An entry from the orchard won Ed the only gold medal ever awarded by the Pacific National Exhibition in that exhibit category. The orchard gradually evolved into the Darts Hill Garden of today. This superb garden is the result of sixty years of hard work, vision, and dedication. In 1995 she and Ed gave Dartshill to the City of Surrey as a garden park. Francisca gave major support and encouragement to local gardening enthusiasts and clubs, particularly the Darts Hill Garden Volunteers, a group that have captured her spirit and now help perpetuate her memory in the Garden. She was an active supporter of the South Surrey Garden Club and the Fraser South Rhododendron Society. For many years Francisca was an ardent supporter of the Alpine Garden Club of British Columbia in which she served as a president, and several times as show chairman. She was a Life Member. Francisca was equally supportive of the Vancouver Rhododendron Society, also serving with it as a president and show chairman. She was awarded an American Rhododendron Society Bronze Medal. She was also a long time member of the University of British Columbia Botanical Garden Friends of the Garden.

In 2002 Francisca Darts was the recipient of an Honorary Doctor of Laws degree from Kwantlen University College in recognition of her contribution to local and world horticulture. Francisca will be remembered as one of Canada’s great talented plants women. Predeceased by her husband Edwin and sister Nettie Harman, she is survived by her sister Louise Emmonds. Condolences may be offered at

Victory Memorial Park Funeral Centre 604-536-6522

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