B.C. royal visit: Volunteer gardeners spruce up Victoria's Government House
150 gardeners have crammed six months worth of projects into a few weeks to get the grounds ready
This is not Valerie Murray's first royal visit. Prince Charles and Prince Andrew have both seen her work up close.
But, she says, this time is quite exciting because Princess Charlotte and Prince George will be playing in her gardens around Government House.
Prince William and Kate will be bringing their children on a royal tour of B.C. and Yukon later this month.
A loyal crew of 150 volunteer gardeners spend every Tuesday and Thursday maintaining the 36 acres of land encompassing a Garry Oak meadow.
No experience is required to be a gardener and each volunteer becomes a "friend" of Government House.
Prince Andrew officially opened the deer gate to the rose garden in 2013, where the gardeners stock the fountain with rubber ducks while pruning.
The ducks usually get put away when the crew leaves but during the royal visit, they will be floating all week.
Gardening projects scheduled for winter were pushed up for completion by Sept. 24, when the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge arrive.
Ivy, blackberry bushes, and weeds are being uprooted to give the grounds a neat appearance and reveal underlying rock and dormant flowers.
Murray estimates there are over a 1,000 species of plants and trees that all need the special touch of a volunteer gardener.
In the neighbourhood Government House is in, Rockland, there are micro-climates that lend to growing a varied canopy of local and tropical trees and flowers.
On the south slope of Government House is a terraced garden leading to a Garry Oak meadow, which will provide hours of fun for the royal family to wander in.
Numerous paths have been cleaned up and the juxtaposition of gnarled Garry oak and tendered gardens will allow ample room for the children to roam.
Victoria will live up to its moniker of City of Gardens in large part to the volunteer crew of dedicated locals who come back week after week and year after year, royals or not.