Sunday, June 19, 2011

Summer Has Arrived

Tourist season in Victoria, BC starts building steam around April, at its height in July and August. Not only do the sidewalks congest with folks from afar seeking all that downtown Victoria has to offer, but so do the streets.

Transit buses carting folks arriving via BC Ferries jockey for lane space with red double-decker buses shuttling sightseers. Cars, bikes, horse ‘n carriages, tour buses and pedicabs - never mind those brave tourists who have rented mini-scooters for the day - all navigate around the occasional road construction and city parks workers who keep the city beautiful.

But what delights me most - the one vehicle that is out only for a day or two - is the hanging basket trolley. I get a real kick every year when I see it roaming the streets of Victoria. Not only am I witnessing a piece of history, but it also reminds that summer is almost here, and the kids are almost out of school (this is a good AND bad thing).

First started in 1937 to commemorate the 75th anniversary of the incorporation of the city in 1862, the 74-year-old tradition has city workers hanging baskets from lampposts in the beginning of June. Geraniums, petunias, and lobelia are just a few plants filling the famous baskets, with various varieties tried and tested every year, improving the assortment.

Watered daily from a truck carrying 2,250 litres of water, the baskets are further loved by weekly checks for moisture content as well as pH and soluble salt levels.

These are not just your ordinary hanging baskets.

The trolley roams the streets stopping at lampposts, and city staff balance on ladders, hoisting up baskets. Eventually to grow and weigh approximately 45 pounds, the baskets are barely half that weight to start; but that’s still a lot of work hanging close to 1,600 baskets.

But there is one other little transport unit zipping and buzzing around town, also minding the baskets. The Empress Hotel Bees, to be specific, according to Rachel Goldsworthy, who wrote about the latest buzz in Victoria.

Keep your eyes peeled if you come to Victoria. Everyone is busy, busy, busy; vehicles, people and…insects.

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