VICTORIA, B.C. – The Pacific Ocean wields immense influence over the weather, regulating Greater Victoria’s famous mild climate and warming the air deep into Central Canada. It’s why our region is typically the first in the country to experience the signs of spring. The phenomenon gave rise 48 years ago to a tradition that continues to this day.
The 2023 Greater Victoria Flower Count — which officially begins Wednesday — kicked off today with speeches on the immaculate front lawns of the Fairmont Empress Hotel.
“Guests can unwind with a leisurely walk through our famous flower-filled grounds, lined with blooming beds flitting with butterflies and well-manicured greenery, maintained year-round by our hardworking gardening team,” Fairmont Empress Director of Sales and Marketing Victoria Dyson said. “The Empress front lawns are one of the most photographed in Victoria. In spring, the bright tulips and cherry blossoms waving in the breeze are nothing short of dazzling, and in summer, the fragrant Rose Garden is a guest and local favourite.”
Flower Count is an annual family friendly event that encourages residents of Greater Victoria to show their civic pride by recording the number of blossoms they see in their municipality. School children in Grade 4 and 5 are asked to hone their math skills in a flower counting contest that runs during the same one-week period. This year, flower counting season runs from 7 a.m., March 8, until 3:30 p.m., March 15.
The early signs of spring in B.C.’s capital are the envy of Canadians from colder parts of the country, noted CHEK News Weather Anchor Ed Bain.
“It's been a long winter — unless you live here,” said Bain with his characteristic good humour. “As usual, Victoria is the first to open the door to spring. The warm Pacific flow and spring flowers are here now. How about you?”
Flower Count is rooted in a tourism promotion started by the Greater Victoria Chamber of Commerce in the 1960s. In those days, a delegation would dress in Victorian-era clothing and hand-deliver daffodils to people to Prairie cities. The publicity stunt generated favourable coverage of our region as a desirable destination. The event shifted in 1975 to having residents count flowers, and the fun but spirited contest continues to this day.
“Destination Greater Victoria has long been a partner and supporter of Flower Count,” Destination Greater Victoria president and CEO Paul Nursey said. “This beloved tradition not only welcomes spring in our region and showcases Greater Victoria's mild climate to the rest of Canada, it also raises awareness about the strong advantage of visiting Victoria or hosting a conference or sporting event in Greater Victoria at this time of year."
After all the blossoms are recorded, a final tally will determine Greater Victoria’s “Bloomingest” community. Last year, 27.9 billion flowers were counted in the region, with the City of Colwood earning top honours for its 9.6 billion blooms. The school prize went to students at Prospect Lake Elementary School.
“We all can use a little joy right now, and it’s always good for the soul to take time to smell — and count — the flowers,” Chamber CEO Bruce Williams said. “We see Flower Count as an opportunity to share our good fortune of living on Canada’s Pacific coast with other Canadians, and let them know that spring in on the way for them too. Just not as soon as it is here 😊.”
Flower counts can be submitted by the public at flowercount.ca. The count can be followed from March 8-15 by searching for the official handle (@FlowerCount) on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.
Jim Zeeben, Policy and Strategic Communications
Greater Victoria Chamber of Commerce
250 360-3471 | firstname.lastname@example.org
Tips for Counting Blossoms
Here are a few shortcuts you can use:
The 48th annual Greater Victoria Flower Count is proudly sponsored and supported by Destination Greater Victoria, Greater Victoria Chamber of Commerce, Butchart Gardens, Fairmont Empress, Black Press, Used Victoria, CHEK, John Overall, Ocean 98.5, and L.A. Limousines.
The Bloomingest community will be announced on CHEK News at 5 p.m. on March 15.
Elementary School Contest Details:
Students in this year’s winning class will win a trip to Butchart Gardens travelling in style via L.A. Limousines:. (max. cohort/class size of 30)
Social Media Contest Details:
Receive one (1) entry by tagging #FlowerCount in related garden and floral posts on Instagram. Multiple entries will not increase chances of winning. Entrant must have a public Instagram account and we must be able to notify the winner by direct message on March 17, 2023.
Note: To be eligible, your Instagram account must be public so we can see that you have tagged #FlowerCount.
Official hashtag: #FlowerCount. Tag us on Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook.
If declared the winner, you will enjoy the time-honored tradition of Fairmont Empress Afternoon Tea for you and a guest! Enjoy a seasonal menu of savoury tea sandwiches, fresh scones with fruit preserves and cream, and a selection of mouth-watering sweets as you look out over the natural beauty of the Inner Harbour.
Hunting for hidden blooms:
Used.ca will be hosting a contest to find the bloom during Flower Count Week. Each day one lucky person will be going home with a fabulous prize package packed in a Greater Victoria Chamber of Commerce #ShopLocal bag filled with local goodies sourced by Destination Greater Victoria including a Goldilocks Goods beeswax food wrap, Silk Road Tea sampling kit, an assortment of Rogers’ Chocolates, honey from Country Bee Honey Farm, and a seasoning blend from Kove Ocean Foods to make your meal a success. The goodie bag will also include a $25 gift card to a local restaurant.
On the final day of Flower Count, a grand prize winner will be chosen to receive all of the items above plus a Pacific FC swag bag and a $50 gift card to Barb’s Fish and Chips.
About Fairmont Empress
Recognized as one of the Top 21 Iconic Hotels in the World by National Geographic Traveler magazine and honored by Travel + Leisure Magazine’s World’s Best Awards for Top 3 City Hotels in Canada, Fairmont Empress is located in Victoria, BC overlooking the city’s sparkling Inner Harbour. A Forbes Four-Star, AAA Four-Diamond property that offers 431 beautifully appointed guest rooms and suites, Willow Stream Spa with signature West Coast experiences, and Q at the Empress featuring Pacific Northwest cuisine, award-winning wine list and regionally focused cocktail culture. World-famous Tea at the Empress is served in the Lobby Lounge with stunning harbor views. The Grande Dame property completed a $60+ million restoration in 2017 that celebrated its proud history while moving the hotel into a new era of modern luxury and transforming the iconic property into a must-visit destination. In 2023, the property introduced a revamped Fairmont Gold Experience, including a major renovation to the Fairmont Gold lounge and conversion of 22 rooms to Gold Experience rooms. Located on Vancouver Island, Canada’s Castle on the Coast is the ideal starting point to explore British Columbia’s stunning natural and expansive beauty.
About Destination Greater Victoria
Destination Greater Victoria (Greater Victoria Visitors and Convention Bureau) is our region’s official, not-for-profit destination marketing organization working in partnership with nearly 1,000 businesses and municipalities in Greater Victoria.
About Greater Victoria Chamber of Commerce
Since 1863, The Chamber has served Greater Victoria by working together to build good business and great community for all through advocacy, networking, professional development, and innovative services as changing times require. In 2020, the Chamber Champions initiative added a powerful resource to provide leadership and guidance to our organization. Current Champions are: Megson FitzPatrick (soon to be Acera Insurance), Berwick Retirement Companies, BC Ferries, Big Wheel Burger, CHEK News, CIBC, Cold Star Solutions, H2 Accelerator, Knappett Projects, Mike Geric Construction, MNP, PARC Retirement Living, RBC, Scotiabank, Seaspan, Starlight Investments, TD Canada Trust, TELUS Business, and the University of Victoria. Find out more at Victoriachamber.ca.
Since 1863, The Chamber has served Greater Victoria by working together to build good business and great community through advocacy, networking, professional development and innovative services as changing times require.