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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 at Government House.

150 gardeners have crammed six months worth of projects into a few weeks to get the grounds ready

The south slope of Government House features terraced gardens. Dorothy is weeding along one of the many paths the little royals will trek. (Mike McArthur/CBC)

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.

Valerie oversees 150 volunteer gardeners year round. They prune and rake on Tuesdays and Thursdays and the Royal visit has added an urgency to get to tasks that were to be completed over the winter. (Mike McArthur/CBC)

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.

Kids love rubber duckies and the royal children won't be disappointed. The gardeners put out the ducks for local kids when they are there and the ducks will float around for the entirety of the royal visit. (Mike McArthur/CBC)

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.

Much of the exposed rock had been slowly covered up by ivy, blackberry bushes and invasive species. Florentina, who loves her work, clears away undergrowth to expose the rock Gov't House is built on. (Mike McArthur/CBC)

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.

The red tiger's eye is in the ground's tropical zone close to Rockland Ave. The micro climates of the area support many different species of plants and trees. (Mike McArthur/CBC)

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.

Rockland is an historic neighbourhood in Victoria famous for its mansions and exposed rock. The 36 acres of Gov't House are a rocky terrain of gardens and Garry oak meadows. The terrain will provide good climbing for Prince George and Princess Charlotte. (Mike McArthur/CBC)

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.

Every other Thursday, the crew get together for a tea break at the small cottage on the property. Many volunteers are retired and some have downsized their own gardens but still want to get their hands dirty. (Mike McArthur/CBC)