Gardens of the Sunshine Coast

Enjoy beach-side wildflower gardens, boutique nurseries and a warm, dry clime on the Sunshine Coast.

Credit: Christina Symons

With beach-side wildflower gardens, boutique nurseries and a warm, dry clime, the Sunshine Coast is a dream destination for gardeners

It’s only a 40-minute ferry ride from Horseshoe Bay to Langdale on the Sunshine Coast, but you’ll feel worlds away once you arrive and set your watch to coast time. The Sunshine Coast is a haven for gardeners, attracted to its warm, dry climate, hospitable zone-8 growing conditions, relaxed attitude and spectacular seaside scenery. First stop, head to historic Gibsons Landing, a few miles from the ferry. Enjoy a snack overlooking the government wharf at Molly’s Reach, the charming cafe made famous by the Beachcombers TV series. Admire the collection of live-aboard boats, many with breathtaking hanging gardens, or wander over to picnic-worthy Winegarden Park. Next, venture to Roberts Creek and Creekside Gardens (2602 Lower Road), an inspiring, small-scale, private ravine oasis that is open to the public. The notoriously bohemian nature of Roberts Creek becomes evident the closer you get to the heart of this funky enclave. Here you’ll find the Gumboot Garden Cafe, a great place to watch the locals, known as “Creekers,” and enjoy some delicious organic fare. At Davis Bay, on the way to Sechelt, you can’t miss the wildflower garden in full bloom through summer. Across from the gorgeous beach you’ll also find a row of vintage stores, perfect for garden treasure hunting. Up the hill in Selma Park, stop by Dahlias Galore (5245 Selma Park Road) for a dazzling display of these bold and beautiful blooms. In the Village of Sechelt the new garden at the Seaside Centre (5790 Teredo Street) is worth checking out, too. Right next door, the Sechelt Justice Centre features an innovative green roof garden – just look up. On the outskirts of Sechelt, a quaint boutique nursery called Willow Farm (6739 Norwest Bay Road) attracts gardeners from all over B.C. to its lush, five-acre garden, ponds, art, specialty trees and grasses, as well as its seasonal concert series. And on the way back to the ferry, swoop into the Swallow’s Nest for vintage garden wares (1061 Gibsons Way) and Petals flower farm (North Road and Stewart, Gibsons) for a few gorgeous bouquets to take home. Signature Displays The Davis Bay beach wildflower garden is a riot of colourful blooms from May to August. If you’d like to replicate this look at home, try these tips. First choose an area with well-drained, poor soils, with little organic matter (which attracts weeds). Purchase a wildflower mix suited for your area and growing conditions. At Davis Bay a coastal wildflower seed mix was selected. Next, be sure your mix has wild grass seed in it as well as blooms. The grass will support the flowers as they establish and also keep invasive weeds out. Sow your seed mix thickly in early spring and be meticulous about pulling any invasive weeds. At Davis Bay, standout wild and perennial blooms include cornflower (Centaurea cyanus), California poppy (Eschscholzia californica), lupin (Lupinus), Shasta daisy (Leucanthemum) and Jupiter’s beard or red valerian (Centranthus ruber). Another signature display is the newly established waterwise garden at the Seaside Centre in Sechelt. Here, plants from the Mediterranean, Australia, South Africa and California mingle with native-plant selections. You’ll find many enticing specimens, including tree poppy (Romneya coulteri), tree heath (Erica arborea), flannel bush (Fremontodendron californicum), silk tassel bush (Garrya elliptica), bottlebrush (Callistemon), tree anemone (Carpenteria californica), European olive (Olea europaea), Antarctic beech (Nothofagus antarctica), eucalyptus, cape fuchsia (Phygelius capensis) and Point Reyes creeper (Ceanothus gloriosus). Ferry information or call 1-888-BC FERRY (1-888-223-3779) For Sunshine Coast information and accommodations Gardeners’ resources is an excellent resource for Sunshine Coast gardeners and visitors. This non-profit society is well on its way to establishing a botanical garden and education centre on the Sunshine Coast. Each year the group offers an enticing array of gardening workshops, plant sales, speakers and special events, which are open to society members and visitors. You may wish to plan your visit around one of the upcoming events. The website also lists coastal nurseries and local garden destinations. Writer and photographer Christina Symons delights in capturing stories and images about homes and gardens, design and lifestyles.