VICTORIA -- A popular Victoria tradition is underway this spring.

Marked as a way for Greater Victoria to promote its mild climate and encourage community spirit, the 2021 edition of the flower count was announced amid the blooms of the Land Conservancy’s Abkhazi Gardens in Victoria Monday.

The annual event challenges people living in communities throughout the region to count flowers to find out which municipality is the “bloomingest.” The March 2020 count saw more that 46 billion blooms counted in Greater Victoria, with Saanich coming out on top as the “most bloomingest community.”

Traditionally, the flower count is an opportunity to promote the region as a tourism destination to other parts of Canada where people may still be in the grip of cold, snowy and wintery weather.

“The flower count is when the Camber of Commerce, Destination Greater Victoria and others will normally send flowers to other organizations in eastern Canada,” said Greater Victoria Chamber of Commerce CEO Bruce Williams. “This year it is a little different, because we will be counting the billions of blooms and sending a virtual bouquet to the rest of Canada saying we are in this (pandemic) together – so we are going to smell the flowers on your behalf.”

Williams says historically, the count has allowed – in a somewhat tongue-in-cheek manner – Victoria to share the region’s moderate climate with winter-bound Canadians. He says that doing so during a pandemic would be tone-deaf.

“Its not appropriate right now, I think that tone has its time and place but its not right now,” said Williams. “We’re doing this because we can, because we want to share with everyone else in Canada and (let them) know that their flowers will be up soon too.”

The goal of this year’s edition of the Greater Victoria Flower Count is to serve as a beacon of hope and healing for a better 2021. The Chamber of Commerce along with Destination Greater Victoria are confident that Canadians will return the region, once COVID-19 restrictions allow it and it is safe to do so.

“Spring is here, it is a time of regeneration and soon it will be for you,” said Destination Greater Victoria CEO Paul Nursey. “In past years we have sent cut daffodils, but this year we are sending seeds of regeneration and so far this year’s approach has been well received.”

The 2021 Greater Victoria Flower Count runs from March 3 to 10 with the winning municipality announced on March 17.

For updates on the flower count number or to enter your count, go to the Flower Count website