Petal power: Victoria’s iconic cherry blossoms are back in bloom

Petal power: Victoria's iconic cherry blossoms are back in bloom
Photo: Ethan Morneau/CHEK News
Pink cherry blossoms in bloom along View Street, across from View Towers in downtown Victoria. Tuesday, March 7, 2023.

With spring around the corner, Victoria’s pretty in pink.

This time of year, B.C. capital’s parks, streets and boulevards are flooded by rows of colourful cherry blossoms adorned in pink and white flowering petals. There are nearly 5,000 of them for onlookers to enjoy, according to city officials.

“Flowering cherries and plums mark the start of spring here in the city and are an important part of our urban forest and part of what makes Victoria picture-perfect for residents and visitors,” the City of Victoria told CHEK News in a statement Wednesday.

Yet, it’s a local phenomenon that dates back decades. And the cultural impact has flourished through the years, with cherry blossom photos filling up Instagram feeds as fast as their petals cover sidewalks.

“Prunus serrulata” is the Latin name of the trees scattered around Victoria since 1937, when they replaced large trees planted at the turn of the 20th century. 

“When they were looking for solutions, they came up with the idea of Japanese cherry and Japanese plum. And local Japanese got involved and made a donation of over 1,000 trees,” Ken Roueche, a Victoria resident and historian, told CHEK News back in 2019.

“So that’s an important part of our heritage,” he said.

WATCH FROM 2019: Victoria council moves to retain, and protect, iconic cherry blossom trees

The city’s original cherry blossoms, also called Japanese cherries, were gifted from the Japanese community after they won prize money in the City of Victoria’s 75th-anniversary parade. By 1991, cherries and plums comprised 30 per cent of all local street trees, but that number later dwindled by 26 per cent in 2005.

Roueche highlights the plant’s past in his 2005 book A Fairfield History, while Trees of Greater Victoria: A Heritage, published in 1988, dives into information about blossoms.

The city says dark pink petals usually bloom between February and March, while light pink petals generally bloom between April and May. Victoria’s mild year-round climate, similar to Vancouver’s, makes them an ideal place to grow, unlike other parts of Canada.

Yesterday, CHEK News captured photos of the trees arched over View and Gordon streets. Other popular spots to see them include Alder, Fifth and Finlayson streets, as well as Tolmie Avenue, with the city’s interactive map pinpointing even more locations. It’s noted, however, that not all trees bloom at the same time.

Environment Canada calls for a mix of sun and clouds Wednesday and Thursday, sitting at a high of nine degrees on both days, so it may be the perfect time to get outdoors and see the trees for yourself — snapping some photos for social media, of course.

11 must-see streets for cherry blossoms around Victoria

Here’s CHEK News’ selection of some of the must-see streets in and around Victoria to see the cherry blossoms bloom over the next few weeks:

These locations were chosen based on the following hand-picked criteria:

  • Number of trees
  • Density of blossoms
  • Canopy size and effect
  • Overall aesthetic

(In Victoria, pink blooms can be found along View Street, while white blooms are along Gordon Street. Tuesday, March 7, 2023. Photos: Ethan Morneau/CHEK News)

Ethan MorneauEthan Morneau

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