WATCH: Arborists and gardeners take unprecedented steps after the driest March on record for parts of Vancouver Island. April Lawrence reports.
Staff members at Butchart Gardens are busy trying to catch up after a series of weather challenges that has left them a little behind.
“We figure we’re about two weeks behind but everything’s in the ground and it’s coming,” said Horticulture Manager Carlos Moniz.
A record-breaking snowfall in February was followed by the driest March on record, forcing Moniz to take some unprecedented action.
“We’ve had to actually irrigate far earlier than we’ve ever had to in the past,” he said.
Victoria only saw 11.3mm of rain in March compared to the average of 78.4mm. Comox only received 4.6mm of rain compared to its average of 105.7mm.
“Super super dry, big honking ridge affecting most of Western Canada, so shielding us from really very much of the influence of the Pacific,” said Armel Castellan, Meteorologist with Environment and Climate Change Canada.
And despite what February may have looked like with record-breaking snowfall, Victoria precipitation was only slightly above normal while most of the island was actually drier than usual.
It’s all led to drought conditions which are putting stress on trees.
“Certainly newly planted trees, those that don’t have an established root system yet are at risk, as well as those trees that have a higher water requirement,” said City of Victoria Arboriculture Supervisor Rob Hughes.
Hughes says the city has had to start its watering program three weeks early as a result as they try to keep 600 newly planted trees alive.
But there is a change on the way.
“This sunshine, absorb it now because we’re going to enter into a much cloudier and rainier period here for the next couple weeks,” said Castellan.
He says if enough rain falls over the next three months there’s a chance we could reverse the drying trend before the wildfire season begins.