5 Surprising Facts About Victoria’s Flower Count

By Scott McDonald

Mar 13
Greater Victoria Flower Count 2018

5 Things you might not know about the greater Victoria Flower Count

The greater Victoria Flower Count is an annual light-hearted event sponsored and organized by The Butchart Gardens, The Greater Victoria Chamber, and Tourism Victoria. We know you are probably out counting flowers, so while you are doing so, we thought we would look at some little known facts about the count and its history.

1. It was created on the off hand suggestion of Victoria florist, Norma Fitzsimmons, who won a VERA award in 2017 for her volunteer work, among which was her tireless flower count efforts. From the award recognition:

In the early 1970’s, the Visitors Bureau wanted to encourage tourists to visit Victoria in the winter. Norma suggested counting flowers and created the annual Victoria Flower Count.

Nicely done Norma, and thank you!

Flower Count - Norma Fitzsimmons first count

Photo: courtesy Victoria BC Chamber

2. It is light-hearted, and the record number of blooms counted was an astonishing 25,864,976,064 in the warmer than normal spring of 2016.

Flower Count - light hearted

Photo: Victoria BC Chamber

3. Sometimes it snows. In both 2014 and 2017, colder than normal weather kept the counts under 1 billion. The plum and cherry blossoms were understandably late and so counters were left with a few winter camellia, lots of Erica (Heather) which are tiny and difficult to count (see the flower count guide to counting). See this fun (and snowy) Shaw TV video of the 2014 count!

Flower Count - Colwood students at Hatley Castle 2017

Ecole John Stubbs Memorial students counting camellia at Hatley Park and Gardens at Royal Roads University in Colwood, BC c. March 2017

4. Politicians like to get involved in the Victoria Flower Count. Back in the 1980s, former Premier Bill Vander Zalm and Miss Victoria unveiled the count total, topping 150 million. Over the last 4 years, the City of Colwood has claimed the ‘Bloomingest Community’ title. Mayor Carol Hamilton is oft quoted ascribing her community’s success to a cadre of “secret weapons”, believed by many to be the highly engaged students at the municipality’s elementary schools.

Flower Count - Premier Vander Zalm

 

5. It is cited in school text books and there is an official school competition. From the flower count site:

Every year we encourage all residents of Greater Victoria to join in this fun event by counting all the flowers they can see. Students and schools are a major part of this counting effort–the winning class will receive a trip the The Butchart Gardens results are recorded on our website, and the numbers are then released to media outlets across North America to show spring arrives in Victoria first!

Flower Count - text book

Flower Count recognised in school textbooks

Flower Count text book page

 

Are you participating? To input your own flower count go to the Greater Victoria Flower Count site. Happy counting!

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Gardens British Columbia happy to be a sponsor of the annual flower count is grateful to the organisers, the Greater Victoria Chamber, The Butchart Gardens and Tourism Victoria for source materials included in this post and for the many volunteers that make this annual event possible.

To find out more about gardens in Victoria, go to: Vancouver Island Gardens.

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About the Author

Digital strategist, destination marketer, and garden tourism enthusiast, Scott McDonald can be found searching out the next offering on the BC Ale Trail or discovering something unique about a garden or local hidden gem. Previously a digital marketer at The Butchart Gardens and Canada 150 Community Leader for the City of Colwood, he is a member of the GWA: The Association for Garden Communicators.