Longtime florist Norma Fitzsimmons

‘Flower lady’ embodies community spirit

At 90, the woman who started Victoria’s famed flower count still beautifying city

Tucked away in a cul-de-sac by Cadboro Bay beach sits a ranch-style home known to neighbours as the meeting place.

For years, Norma Fitzsimmons has welcomed new and longtime neighbours into her Saanich home, allowing them to get to know each other through community potluck dinners.

Turning 90 in August hasn’t slowed down the longtime florist and former owner of Island Florist. Her big annual neigbourhood event and volunteer efforts remain an integral part of her life.

Born and raised in Victoria, Fitzsimmons’ love of flowers blossomed at an early age. Becoming a florist was “the most wonderful thing,” she says. “I’m my happiest when I’m working with flowers.”

Indeed, the former Saanich councillor – she held one term during the 1970s – was once known as Victoria’s “flower lady.”

She worked with the Greater Victoria Chamber of Commerce and the Victoria AM Association, developing ideas to promote Victoria as a “City of Gardens.”

She started the annual and now famed Victoria Flower Count, as well as the tradition of greeting cruise ship visitors with a gift – originally roses, carnations and now pins.

These days she still assembles floral arrangements for the Greater Victoria Art Gallery as a volunteer, and often donates arrangements to Our Place, the Victoria Symphony, as well as the Victoria Conservatory of Music. “I just get involved with everything and anybody,” she says.

The self-professed people-person remembers getting caught stealing flowers from her neighbour’s yard when she was a little girl. These days, Fitzsimmons has a better relationship with her neighbours.

Back in the 1980s, being the last homeowner in the cul-de-sac to finish building her home, Fitzsimmons felt she needed to get to know her neighbours.

“I thought, ‘If you live in a cul-de-sac you have to know everybody.’”

Fitzsimmons invited neighbours from the seven other nearby homes and nearby streets to a potluck during the summer of 1985. And since then, it’s become an annual event.

“Everybody got to know each other,” she says. She also throws a yearly Christmas party.

The camaraderie among her 30 or so neighbours is what keeps her potlucks an annual summer affair. “We’re just like one big family,” she says.

The parties are always warm and welcoming, Fay Jones, a neighbour of Fitzsimmons for 22 years, says, noting there are always floral arrangements adorning the house.

“She’s a perfect hostess,” Jones says. “It’s just a lovely evening which we all look forward to.”

reporter@vicnews.com

 

 

 

Just Posted

Canadian Coast Guard breaks ground on permanent search and rescue station in Victoria

Victoria-based SAR will do all rescues in local harbour and parts of the Strait of Juan de Fuca

Police actions under investigation following Langford arrest

IIO investigates officer-related incidents that result in serious harm

Victoria woman, 76, challenges alcohol-screening laws after failing to give breath sample

Norma McLeod was unable to provide a sample because of her medical conditions

Victoria council looks to self-impose carbon tax on staff airfare

A new carbon pricing fee would put additional funds into the city’s Climate Action Reserve

Gas stations could push to 167.9 cents a litre this week

Analyst says high prices are due to supply and demand

WATCH: Cougar saunters through Metchosin yard

Spring cougar sighting caught on camera

Wanted by Crime Stoppers

Greater Victoria Crime Stoppers is seeking the public’s help in locating the… Continue reading

POLL: Do you think the Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris should be rebuilt?

Images of one of the word’s most iconic landmarks were seared into… Continue reading

‘B.C. cannot wait for action’: Top doctor urges province to decriminalize illicit drugs

Dr. Bonnie Henry says current approach in ‘war on drugs’ has criminalized and stigmatized drug users

New report on 2017 wildfires calls for better coordination with B.C. First Nations

Tsilhqot’in National Government documents 2017 disaster and lists 33 calls to action

B.C. youth coach banned amid sexual harassment, bullying scandal: Water Polo Canada

Justin Mitchell can’t take part in Water Polo Canada events or clubs

Wilson-Raybould: Feds want to just ‘manage the problem’ of Indigenous Peoples

Former federal justice minister speaks at First Nations Justice Council meeting in B.C.

Island Cup set for East Sooke on May 3-5

Off-road racing event expected to attract over 50 racers

Female real estate agents warned of suspicious man in Metro Vancouver

The man requests to see homes alone with the female agent, police say

Most Read