Francisca DartsTuesday, March 21, 2006
Francisca Darts was 90 last week. She and her husband Edwin bought a 7.5 acre untilled bush in Surrey, BC in 1943 and turned it into a botanical garden that is the only private garden (after Edwin's death Francisca donated Darts Hill to Surrey as a Concervancy Trust)in BC that can compete with the UBC Botanical Garden and VanDusen in botanical richness. When you visit Darts Hill you will see a botanical diversity that is more astonishing when you realize that most of the huge conifers and broad leaf tress were all planted by Francisca from seed. Through the green coat tails of my wife, who is a member of the BC Alpine Garden Club, I have been able to meet and enjoy the company of Francisca many times. I particularly remember her "show and tell" after the somewhat dry and long BC Alpine Garden Club meetings. She would enthusiastically bring plants from her garden that had caught her eye that day. It was about 10 years ago that Francisca's hands began to shake and she would spill coffee on herself. She once told me, "Darn when I hold my plants my hands don't shake." It was at her garden many years ago that I first saw my first good specimen of an Osmunda regalis commonly called a Royal Fern. I often tell my granddaughter Rebecca that our plants talk to us and tell us they need more light or more water. When they grow well I almost think they are telling us they are happy. But Francisca is the only gardener I have ever met who talks to her plants. This she told me. I believe her. The proof is in Darts Hill.