‘Bragging rights’: As buds already bloom, Greater Victoria Flower Count kicks off 49th year

'Bragging rights': As buds already bloom, Greater Victoria Flower Count kicks off 49th year
Flowers are pictured at Victoria's Inner Harbour, Monday, March 4, 2024.

It’s a sign that spring is fast approaching on south Vancouver Island as the Greater Victoria Flower Count sprouts into another year.

For a local tourism official, the event, which was created to highlight the mild weather typically experienced in the region, also brings people together.

“If other Canadians are tired of shovelling snow, they can maybe come out here on a leisure trip where spring’s about to bloom,” laughed Paul Nursey, CEO of Destination Greater Victoria.

The count, in its 49th year, kicked off Monday at Abkhazi Gardens. It runs March 6-13, when participants are encouraged to submit flower counts via this website. 

The decades-old count brings the community together, notes Nursey. It’s a tradition for many school students, and each year, one municipality in the region where the most blooms are counted is crowned the “bloomingest” community.

Last year, Sidney won with more than 7.5 billion blooms, as just under 33.4 billion were counted across the region.

“The billions are not new,” explained Nursey.

“One large tree in and of itself is 750,000 blooms. It’s really quick to get into the tens of millions. A full tree with many blooms is thousands of blooms.”

READ ALSO: Photographer marvels at Victoria’s already flowering plum, cherry trees

Local Grade 4 and 5 students are also encouraged to count flowers and submit entries, with the winning class to be awarded a trip to The Butchart Gardens.

“Counting the blooms is not scientific. It’s an estimate based on the size of the plants. The school children in Grades 4 and 5 are the ones that really drive that with all the school kids getting out,” Nursey told CHEK News Monday.

A joint news release from Destination Greater Victoria and the Greater Victoria Chamber of Commerce says a heather bush has 1,000 blossoms, while a small tree full of blossoms equals 250,000 and trees fully in bloom count for 750,000.

Nursey jokes that the count makes people living elsewhere envious, especially this time of year when plants are already blooming in Victoria. On View Street in the city’s downtown, for example, plum trees were flowering early last month.

“My peers at tourism boards across Canada are always upset when I’m promoting this because they can’t compete. Winnipeg, Edmonton, Calgary, Toronto, MontrĂ©al, they have a hard time competing with us with full blossoms out,” he said.

“(The count is) our gentle point at the rest of the country that this is the best place in terms of climate to come in March, the shoulder season.”

JANUARY STORY: Vancouver Island sets new temperature records

It’s a tradition unique to the region, according to Chamber CEO Bruce Williams, who adds, “It has evolved over the years, but it continues to be an opportunity to share the joy of springtime in Greater Victoria with other Canadians.”

The results will be revealed the same day the count wraps up.

According to the release, the number of blossoms counted will be attributed to the counter’s community, with submissions accepted from 7 a.m. on March 6 to 4 p.m. on March 13. Later that day, on CHEK News at 5, Ed Bain will announce the “bloomingest” community and the class that courts the most blossoms.

For the Victoria area, the count is “important,” reiterates Nursey.

“First of all, community traditions are important, and counting blooms creates bragging rights. It’s something we can all get behind,” he added.

“In an era of tough news, this is something soft and a nice gift back to our community.”

Flower counters can also share photos of blooms discovered while exploring Greater Victoria with the #FlowerCount hashtag and by tagging @FlowerCount on Facebook, Instagram or X (formerly Twitter). Any floral post using the hashtag on Instagram earns an entry to win a $500 gift card towards an electric bike.

Submit flower counts via flowercount.ca, and more information about the Greater Victoria Flower Count can be found online here.

Ethan MorneauEthan Morneau

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