Cool temperatures hinder flower blooms

The annual count is on to find Greater Victoria’s ‘bloomingest community’

Halfway through the annual flower count, Oak Bay’s odds of being “bloomingest community” aren’t looking grand.

“None of the stuff we saw in flower last year is in flower yet,” said Chris Hyde-Lay, parks manager. “From last year we’re three weeks behind, easy. So much comes down to soil temperature for the switches to flip and its not there yet. But there’s still lots of stuff out and about.”

This week marks the 42nd annual Flower Count where residents and school children count the number of blooms along Greater Victoria sidewalks, in yards, parks and gardens.

The Flower Count is a chance to showcase Victoria’s mild climate to those in colder places, says Oak Bay Mayor Nils Jensen.

“The flower count is something that absolutely is essential to our tourism industry,” Jensen said. “I remember many, many years ago being in Ottawa and listening to the flower count announced on the local radio there, then longing to return to the West Coast. It is a boost to tourism and I think it does say something about our beautiful environment that we have here and the natural setting of Greater Victoria.”

Last year, volunteers from around Greater Victoria counted 25.9 billion blossoms. The “bloomingest” community was Colwood for the third year in a row, followed by the municipality of North Saanich and the City of Victoria.

With similar soil temperatures across those region, flower counting is still encouraged in the title war.

In Oak Bay bibernum (pink dawn and spring bouquet), early heathers, snowdrops, polyanthus, witch hazel and an early cherry are among the blooms to look for now.

“Those are the things that come to mind that are in flower now,” Hyde-Lay said. “We have a beautiful Daphne in our Scented Garden which is in flower … we’ve got one plum tree trying real hard.”

The Flower Count ends March 12. Visit flowercount.com for tips on counting and information on how to submit your numbers.