Hanging Baskets & Nursery
In 2012, Victoria's trademark hanging flower baskets celebrated their 75th anniversary.
Introduced to celebrate the 75th anniversary of the City of Victoria's incorporation in 1937, Victoria's hanging flower baskets are now a trademark recognized around the world. Hanging baskets are placed on downtown lampposts every June to signal the start of summer.
To mark this milestone, Mayor Dean Fortin and City Manager Gail Stephens each hung a celebratory basket outside City Hall on June 11, 2012.
In 1936, City Parks Administrator Herb Warren was tasked with researching the prospect of placing hanging baskets on the streets of Victoria in celebration of the City's 75th anniversary of incorporation. Basing his research on the moss-lined wire baskets in England, several hundred sun baskets were placed on city streets in the summer of 1937.
When Victoria's baskets were first introduced, the practice of hanging flower baskets in public areas was limited to a few European cities. Many of the plants used in those baskets would not have performed well in Victoria's climate.
The original Victoria sun basket included miniature roses, fuchsias, begonias, petunias and geraniums.
Today's sun basket includes Sapphire and Fountain Blue Lobelia; Ballerina White Gaura, Carpet Rose and White Petunias, Calliope Scarlet Fire Geraniums; Orange and Lemon Gem Tagetes; and Silver Falls Dichondra.
Nine different varieties of plants are used to make today's traditional Victoria sun basket, with a total of 25 plants included in each.
In the early years, many different plants and plant colours were tried in the baskets. They were selected based on their vigour, resistance to disease and insects, period of bloom and maintenance. Although the plant colour scheme was developed in the 1960s, trials continue to improve selection and show with new plants or plant varieties.
Over the past three years, City Parks staff have piloted a number of sun basket plants to determine which can best withstand warmer temperatures and bloom into October. New plants that have been introduced into the sun baskets include Gaura ‘Ballerina Series', Geranium Calliope ‘Scarlet Fire', Petunias ‘White Carpet and Rose Carpet,and Dichondra ‘Silver Falls'.
The City of Victoria's hanging flower baskets remain on lampposts until mid-September. After removal, the hardware is dismantled, and the plant material is composted.
Growing and Assembly
Plants for the baskets are grown in the City of Victoria's nursery, located in the southeast corner of Beacon Hill Park. In late April, a crew of six gardeners begins construction of approximately 1,500 hanging baskets. This process takes place over a four-week period.
After the baskets are made, they remain in the City's greenhouses for one week before being moved outside to acclimatize to the conditions they will encounter on the streets. During the second week of June, the baskets are placed on the City's signature lampposts.
Parks staff water the hanging baskets every night throughout the summer, from 10:45 p.m. to 7:15 a.m. Trucks transport water in 2,250 litre tanks, and handheld wands are used to water the flowers. Parks staff give each basket 6.5 litres of water containing a trace amount of fertilizer. Baskets in exposed areas are watered 6 - 7 times per week, whereas baskets in sheltered locations are watered 4 - 5 times per week, depending on the weather.
In addition, baskets are sampled weekly for moisture content, pH and soluble salt levels and appropriate corrective measures are taken, if required.
Shade baskets were introduced in the 1990s. As the City's boulevard trees grew larger and cast more shade, it became apparent that an alternative to the 'traditional' sun basket was needed. Nursery staff decided to try Impatiens baskets with Rhodochition as a trailing plant. Trials continue today as new Impatiens varieties become available. Shade baskets have now expanded into new shade locations where sun baskets would never have reached their full potential.
How to Make Your Own Sun Basket
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To learn more about the City's hanging baskets and how to make your own, view our hanging basket brochure. [PDF - 423 KB]
Print copies are available at Victoria City Hall and the Crystal Pool and Fitness Centre.