Gift from Vancouver

On 25 April, our north-facing Ottawa backyard finally rids itself of its last snow.  As I head to the airport, I see that the irises and daffodils are just up. There is still nary a sign of any tulips the squirrels missed.  As for flowering trees and bushes: Fuggedaboutit!  Their leaves aren’t even started. 

Stopping off in Edmonton, I see expanses of my least favourite colour: taupe. The good news is that I can see the ground: It isn’t still covered in snow.   Driving south, I see field after field in shades of gray and beige, with the occasional flash of intense blue where standing water reflects the cloudless Alberta sky.

Arriving in Vancouver on 29 April,  I enter another country.  Spring is so well started there that the early starters are close to done.  The cherry trees, for example, are definitely past their prime; magnolia blossoms litter boulevards, sidewalks, and gutters; and tulips in south-facing locations are already thinking about next year.

Single pink magnolia blossom on edge of sidewalk and grass
Stamens from blown tulip
Tu Lip: The Next Generation

The second wave of spring flower-ers is at their brief peak, as are trees that flaunt leaves rather than flowers.

Close-up of single white dogwood blossom
Cluster of new leaves on Japanese maple
Japanese Maple

And the azaleas that beautified the Master’s Tournament, a full month ago in Augusta, are now in full bloom north of the 49th.

Close-up of single pink azalea blossom

It will be several weeks before any such display graces my neighbourhood, even in part, but it’s good to know that it’s Spring somewhere.

Yellow and orange tulips in sunlight

Close-up of single orange and yellow tulip



  1. Jim Taylor

    The difference between an Ontario spring and a West Coast spring is duration. In Toronto, I recall, spring usually lasted a whole week. One Sunday, the branches were still bare; by the next Sunday (or thereabouts) the trees were in full leaf, and the immense ranges of greens in new leaves were settling in to the solid green of summer. Flowers spread out time a little more, but not much. Whereas in Vancouver, and especially Victoria, the sequence of blooms stretches out over several months. Here in the Okanagan, the Saskatoons and the apricots come first, then the cherries, the peaches, the apples and azeleas, the dogwoods… It’s a gorgeous procession.
    Jim T

    1. Isabel Gibson

      Jim T – Yes, I’ve heard people say that Canada has only two seasons. Ignoring jokes about “winter and bad sledding” and “winter and road construction,” I think there’s some truth to that. Ottawa’s spring is short; thankfully, our autumn is usually longer and nicer.

    1. Isabel Gibson

      Barbara – Thanks! They’re tweaked for exposure (in camera and in computer) but not saturated. It really does look like that, or almost.

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