Once upon a sort-of winter in Victoria BC...

Updated: Feb 15, 2020

Are you new to Victoria, or planning to move here? Let me tell you a bit about what you’re in for. Winter in Victoria goes like this: Fall drags on, rhododendrons flower randomly in December because November was like October, minus the colourful leaves.... and if it weren’t for the short, dark days and occasional frosty morning, nobody could call January winter either. Then, usually, at some point in late January or February, we get maybe two weeks of something resembling “real” winter - temps hover around 0 degrees Celsius, then go down to maybe minus 7 overnight, snow falls, disappears within a week, and that’s it.

Worst case scenario: Maybe we get some wind chill thrown in, which can actually do more damage than the frost, as freezing winds can dry out the foliage of evergreen plants such as myrtles, Hebes, Feijoa and many other things that are officially hardy to our zone 8a here on southern Vancouver island (but only just!). If you are on the ball, you might wrap sensitive Chilean guavas in burlap, or put a weighted bucket over your young Phormium. Or you purchase a protective spray that adheres to foliage of broadleaf evergreens such as Pepperbush or Olearia and prevents the freeze drying effect from doing major damage.

Anyways, once we‘re past the obligatory cold snap, things go back to this weather that feels like perpetual fall.

Then, with the days eventually getting brighter, things shift to perpetual spring, which drags on with maddening soggy similarity until the end of April. (Oh, and sometimes it comes back in June for what we call “Junuary”). However, if you’re an outdoorsy type, you’ll notice the plum blossoms in February, and the increasing warmth of the sun. If you’re an avid gardener, Seedy Saturday might get your vibes going. It does start to feel different, energetically. I personally start to feel increased motivation and energy to do stuff in the garden, especially come March when the sun starts to gain a bit of umph. But every year, I fall into that trap of thinking, spring is here! Only to be faced with another few grey, rainy days of that typical west coast deep-in-your-bones damp cold - just like back in November.

May is the saving grace of Victoria’s spring. Sometimes we even get a heat wave in the mid twenties! That is when gardens explode and tank tops and sandals once again face the light of day, but the sun isn’t hot enough to be bothersome yet. So, if you‘re new here and thinking, OMG what is this weather and what month is it anyways? Or if you‘re thinking to relocate here: hold out for May to wow you.

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In the meantime, here is a video I made on some brighter February days this year of 2020, about something that is part of our winter routine: Fruit tree pruning. The crews are busy as I write this, getting all their clients’ fruit trees shaped and tidied up, with, hopefully, the result of increased fruit production. I say “hopefully“ because pruning isn’t the only factor. Tree health, pollinator access, and irrigation play important roles too. If you want to know more or are interested in getting a free assessment of your trees, contact us!