Flower count 2015: Saanich founder reflects on 39 years of blooms

Cadboro Bay’s Norma Fitzsimmons, 92, plans to get out the count this week

Thirty-nine years ago, Cadboro Bay’s Norma Fitzsimmons came up with an answer to the question being asked by the Victoria Visitors Bureau: how to draw winter tourists?

The 2015 Victoria Flower Count starts Thursday and runs until March 11, and it’s a safe estimate the region’s moderate winter weather of late will help put it over the top of last year’s count of 1,392,393,203.

“I was a director with the Visitors Bureau (Tourism Victoria) in the 1960s and remember a meeting when we were asking, ‘How will we ever get tourists here in the winter,’” recalled the 92-year-old, whose bloom-heavy garden backs onto Gyro Park.

“In the summer, the streets were full of cars from Canada and the U.S. as far as California,” she said. “I owned Island Florist (at the time) so I was always thinking flowers, and said, ‘Well where else in Canada would you be finding flowers blooming in the gardens in February?’”

That was the birth of the flower count.

Residents were invited to count their blossoms and the bureau planned on making a big announcement to let the world know we’re not shovelling snow, we’re counting blossoms, Fitzsimmons added.

“Eaton’s downtown store provided a corner window where four of us sat on the phone, taking calls on how many blossoms were in people’s gardens. At the end of each day we’d update a poster in the window with a total.”

Vantreights stepped up too, supplying daffodils which the bureau shipped to print, television and radio outlets across Canada with the story on the flower count.

“We said the daffodils were from our gardens but they were probably from the greenhouse for all I know,” laughed Fitzsimmons.

In 1989 Fitzsimmons sold her business and stepped away from the contest. But she’s never stopped contributing. To this day she donates and arranges flowers at Our Place, among her other community efforts.

“This year I’ll have at least a million (blossoms) I’m sure, if I include the forsythia and heather,” Fitzsimmons said.

Saanich finished third in 2014, when Colwood took the title as the Bloomingest Community. Visit flowercount.com for more information.


Just Posted

Victoria 2020 budget town hall scheduled for Friday

The public is welcome to provide feedback on proposed 2020 spending

Saanich adopts new four-year strategic plan featuring five goal areas

‘Living document’ to be revisited throughout the year

Work begins on Admirals Bridge to install wastewater pipe, possible traffic changes

Construction will take approximately six to eight weeks to complete

A white Christmas not likely for Greater Victoria

Snow could be in the forecast for mid to late January, early February, says meteorologist

POLL: Do you plan on making any purchases on Black Friday?

We’ve all seen the images. Shoppers rioting outside of a store in… Continue reading

Members of little people community applaud change to drop ‘midget’ term

‘It’s not about sensitivity,’ says Allan Redford, the president of the Little People of Canada

Little progress in preventing sudden infant deaths since last report: BC Coroner

Coroners panel studied 141 sleep-related sudden infant deaths between 2013 and 2018

Dive team searching for missing Cowichan fisherman

Bill Court said family and friends are actively engaged in the search

B.C.’s ‘Dr. Frankenstein of guns’ back in jail yet again for trafficking in Glock parts

Bradley Michael Friesen has parole revoked for allegedly importing gun parts yet again

B.C. woman suing after laser hair removal leaves her with ‘severe’ burns, scarring

Nadeau felt ‘far more pain’ than usual during the treatment

$2.9 million judgment in B.C. blueberry farm sabotage lawsuit

The new owners saw most of their farm ruined just as they took possession

B.C. to more than double sales tax on vaping products

Tax up from 7 to 20 per cent, tobacco tax up two cents

Most Read