International gardening expert leading summer tour of P.E.I. gardens

Eric McCarthy
Published on March 7, 2014

KILDARE CAPES -- As a gardening enthusiast, Garth Davey says he would ordinarily be filling in some bare spots and tending to some winter kill in his two-acre Kildare Capes garden this spring anyway.

This year, though, he will be taking extra special care. That’s because he’ll be awaiting a summertime visit by an internationally known gardening expert, Dr. Allan Armitage, during his 30-person Eastern Canada Garden Tour.

Armitage is Professor emeritus of Horticulture at University of George, a writer, columnist and television celebrity. He has written 13 books that serve as classroom texts, reference books and gardeners’ companions. He has also written more than 70 academic papers and 500 industry papers.

Armitage has penned a monthly column for a national greenhouse publication, Greenhouse Grower, for 30 years and his company, Garden Vistas, has organized tours of the great gardens of the world every year for more than a quarter-century.

Besides Davey’s garden, the tour’s three-day visit to P.E.I. also includes visits to the gardens of Donna Sutton, Clinton, Betty Lou Abbott Frizzell, Hunter River, the Aiken House in Warren Grove and Tom Riley’s garden in Rice Point.

Davey, who is coordinating the P.E.I. tour, has also arranged for the tour to visit Tignish, a 2013 Communities in Bloom national champion.

This is the type of spinoff Tignish was hoping to gain from the national recognition. While Davey helped get the community gardens in Tignish started 10 years ago, he praises the community for maintaining and expanding the gardens. He acknowledged the work of Jamie McHugh in promoting horticulture in the community.

While he admits he might stress a little over the visit, Davey said it is still too early to stress when his garden is under three feet of snow. He will be adding another flowerbed this spring and as the days tick down to the tour’s July 31 start, Davey said, “I’ll just make sure everything is especially neat and clean for Allan Armitage’s arrival.”

He said most of the people who signed up for the Eastern Canada tour, which also includes stops in Newfoundland and Nova Scotia, are garden-lovers. He said most of the seats for the tour were sold out before all the details were finalized. “People are really into it,” he said.

“It’s one of the best (garden) tours in North America and (Armitage’s) actually guiding it,” Davey said. “He’s a great person for keeping the fun in gardening.”