Longtime florist Norma Fitzsimmons

Longtime florist Norma Fitzsimmons

‘Flower lady’ embodies community spirit

At 90, the woman who started Victoria’s famed flower count still beautifying city

Tucked away in a cul-de-sac by Cadboro Bay beach sits a ranch-style home known to neighbours as the meeting place.

For years, Norma Fitzsimmons has welcomed new and longtime neighbours into her Saanich home, allowing them to get to know each other through community potluck dinners.

Turning 90 in August hasn’t slowed down the longtime florist and former owner of Island Florist. Her big annual neigbourhood event and volunteer efforts remain an integral part of her life.

Born and raised in Victoria, Fitzsimmons’ love of flowers blossomed at an early age. Becoming a florist was “the most wonderful thing,” she says. “I’m my happiest when I’m working with flowers.”

Indeed, the former Saanich councillor – she held one term during the 1970s – was once known as Victoria’s “flower lady.”

She worked with the Greater Victoria Chamber of Commerce and the Victoria AM Association, developing ideas to promote Victoria as a “City of Gardens.”

She started the annual and now famed Victoria Flower Count, as well as the tradition of greeting cruise ship visitors with a gift – originally roses, carnations and now pins.

These days she still assembles floral arrangements for the Greater Victoria Art Gallery as a volunteer, and often donates arrangements to Our Place, the Victoria Symphony, as well as the Victoria Conservatory of Music. “I just get involved with everything and anybody,” she says.

The self-professed people-person remembers getting caught stealing flowers from her neighbour’s yard when she was a little girl. These days, Fitzsimmons has a better relationship with her neighbours.

Back in the 1980s, being the last homeowner in the cul-de-sac to finish building her home, Fitzsimmons felt she needed to get to know her neighbours.

“I thought, ‘If you live in a cul-de-sac you have to know everybody.’”

Fitzsimmons invited neighbours from the seven other nearby homes and nearby streets to a potluck during the summer of 1985. And since then, it’s become an annual event.

“Everybody got to know each other,” she says. She also throws a yearly Christmas party.

The camaraderie among her 30 or so neighbours is what keeps her potlucks an annual summer affair. “We’re just like one big family,” she says.

The parties are always warm and welcoming, Fay Jones, a neighbour of Fitzsimmons for 22 years, says, noting there are always floral arrangements adorning the house.

“She’s a perfect hostess,” Jones says. “It’s just a lovely evening which we all look forward to.”

reporter@vicnews.com

 

 

 

Just Posted

A single-vehicle incident impacted the morning commute on the Pat Bay Highway. (Black Press Media file photo)
TRAFFIC: Single-vehicle incident closes section of Pat Bay

Northbound traffic down to one lane, southbound reopened

Four residents and two cats were displaced from their home in James Bay when a fire broke out Sunday afternoon. (Jane Skrypnek/News Staff)
No injuries in James Bay house fire

Fire broke out at about 2 p.m. Sunday

Coun. Bob Thompson wants authorities to delay the June 30 deadline for submissions to BC Housing’s request-for-proposal to run the supportive housing project at Prosser Road. (Black Press Media File)
Central Saanich calls for delay in supportive housing project deadline

Municipality wants more say in eventual choice of contractor to run supportive housing project

Willows Beach in Oak Bay. (Black Press Media file photo)
Seven days of sun set to shine on Greater Victoria

Special weather statement warns of higher than usual temperatures

LeoVegas's promotional art for their survey of Canada's funniest proviences (LeoJoker)
B.C. second-funniest province in Canada: online survey

Dry humour popular with B.C. residents – we’re also boisterous laughers

Jesse Roper tackles weeds in his garden to kick off the 2021 season of What’s In My Garden Man? (YouTube/Whats In My Garden)
VIDEO: Metchosin singer-songwriter Jesse Roper invites gardeners into his plot

What’s In My Garden, Man? kicks off with the poop on compost

The border crossing into the United States is seen during the COVID-19 pandemic in Lacolle, Que. on February 12, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Paul Chiasson
Border quarantine to soon lift for fully vaccinated Canadians

Eligible travellers must still take multiple COVID-19 tests

A portion of the George Road wildfire burns near Lytton, B.C. in this Friday, June 18, 2021 handout photo. THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO, BC Wildfire Service *MANDATORY CREDIT*
Blaze near Lytton spread across steep terrain, says BC Wildfire Service

Fire began Wednesday and is suspected to be human-caused, but remains under investigation

Blair Lebsack, owner of RGE RD restaurant, poses for a portrait in the dining room, in Edmonton, Friday, June 18, 2021. Canadian restaurants are having to find ways to deal with the rising cost of food. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jason Franson
Canadian restaurateurs grapple with rising food costs, menu prices expected to rise

Restaurants are a low margin industry, so there’s not a lot of room to work in additional costs

RCMP crest. (Black Press Media files)
Fort St. John man arrested after allegedly inviting sexual touching from children

Two children reported the incident to a trusted adult right away

A Lotto 6/49 ticket purchased in Parksville for the June 19, 2021 draw is a $3M winner. (Submitted photo)
Winning Lotto 6/49 ticket worth $3M purchased on Vancouver Island

Lottery prize winners have 52 weeks to claim jackpot

Barbara Violo, pharmacist and owner of The Junction Chemist Pharmacy, draws up a dose behind vials of both Pfizer-BioNTech and Oxford-AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccines on the counter, in Toronto, Friday, June 18, 2021. An independent vaccine tracker website founded by a University of Saskatchewan student says just over 20 per cent of eligible Canadians — those 12 years old and above — are now fully vaccinated. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
At least 20% of eligible Canadians fully vaccinated, 75% with one dose: data

Earlier projections for reopening at this milestone didn’t include Delta variant

This undated file photo provided by Ernie Carswell & Partners shows the home featured in the opening and closing scenes of The Brady Bunch in Los Angeles. Do you know the occupation of Mike Brady, the father in this show about a blended family? (Anthony Barcelo/Ernie Carswell & Partners via AP, File)
QUIZ: A celebration of dad on Father’s Day

How much do you know about famous fathers?

Most Read