The Summerland Ornamental Gardens are located at the south end of Summerland, BC. The turnoff is located on Highway 97, opposite SunOka Beach, and is the same turnoff as to the Agriculture Canada Research Centre. Follow the signs up the hill until the entry kiosk is visible. Entry to these beautiful 15-acres of botanical gardens is available year round but the hours change seasonally. There is also a suggested donation of five dollars ($5) per person.
The Summerland Ornamental Gardens came about one hundred years ago, in 1916, as a way to help immigrants learn about growing plants in the hot arid climate of the South Okanagan. Since then, learning has continued to be an important part of the gardens’ history. This is evident by the large xeriscape garden, near the entry kiosk, showcasing a way of gardening that is both water-wise and beautiful. Further past the entry kiosk there is plenty of parking area, a visitor centre, a gazebo and washrooms. There is plenty to see at the gardens and it can be difficult to know where to start. We started exploring by taking the Canyon Walk which begins near the washrooms and continues north up to Trout Creek Canyon and the impressive Trout Creek Bridge. This bridge was was built in 1913 as part of the original Kettle Valley Railway. If you want to walk up to the bridge you must leave the gardens and follow the Kettle Valley Railway trail located just west of the area. After walking along the Canyon Trail we explored Friendship Plaza, the Main Lawn and then walked up to the house which is the Main Office. The visitors centre was closed when we arrived so we had no map but there is a handy little map of the area on their website.
These gardens are a great place for all ages! The easy walkways, large grassy areas and lush gardens are perfect for little explorers and family picnics. We spent about an hour exploring the gardens on a relatively mild (20°C) day; however, there is plenty of shade at the gardens so it would be nice place to visit even on a hot summer’s day. This coming July 16th and 17th, the Summerland Ornamental Gardens will be celebrating 100 Years Under the Sun! This free two day celebration will have a variety of entertainment and activities for the whole family. It sounds like it will be great fun and we hope to make it! Also, if you enjoy visiting gardens then I would recommend viewing the beautiful gardens located in Kaleden: Linden Gardens.