Despite a count of 100 million blooms submitted by one resident, Oak Bay fell to seventh this year in the 41st annual Victoria Flower Count.
Graham Bell, new Oak Bay resident, finds the climate more conducive to an early spring uprising here. Just a couple of degrees seems to make a difference between Oak Bay and the locale of Butchart Gardens where Bell honed his flower skills working in public relations until just over a year ago.
“(Plants) were very far advanced for the time of year,” Bell said of the buds in his new community. “I actually found dandelions that had already gone to seed.”
He discovered masses of azaleas and camellia, some so far in bloom, they were already falling off.
“There is a phenomenal amount of early spring plants. Oak Bay should lead the pack.”
Bell led the way in counting for Oak Bay’s seventh place finish – of 14 communities – in the annual Victoria Flower Count March 3 to 9.
Residents of Greater Victoria counted 25,864,976,064 flowers, smashing last year’s second best count by 8 billion blooms.
“Flower Count is a four-decades old tradition in Victoria that we are happy to support,” said Paul Nursey, president and CEO of Tourism Victoria. “Our spring-like winters differentiate our destination from others which is why tourists from all over the world increasingly see Victoria as a key and unique Canadian experience.”
Each year, the regional municipalities go head-to-head, with residents submitting counts for their community. Colwood was named Bloomingest Community for the third straight year. Bell remembers a half dozen years ago when he was among those announcing Oak Bay as the Bloomingest community. We topped the count in 2010 – the highest Flower Count on record with 21.7 billion blooms – 14 billion of them here.
“Oak Bay should be a showcase,” said Bell who took the time counting as an opportunity to get to know his new community a little better. “I was learning the area, some walking and driving around,” he said. “I was just having a good time.”
Alongside discovering community treasures such as the Centennial Trail and Anderson Hill Park, he looked out for bushes such as heather, which can count as an estimated 2,000 blooms. Bell says the key is not to focus on the crocus. Single-bloom plants take a long time to add up, “go for the trees,” he suggested.
In the neighbourhood adjacent to the Oak Bay fire hall, Bell discovered ornamental cherry trees lining boulevards that yield 750,000 blooms. Bell submitted 100 million Oak Bay flowers for the count.
“It’s a nice activity,” Bell said. “It’s a combination of the plants out there and the number of people counting them. People are just involved in fun. It’s not at all scientific, but it does show an activity people can get out and do.”