About the Area
The Parksville-Qualicum Beach area is in the centre of the Georgia Depression Ecoprovince, which lies between the Vancouver Island Mountains and the southern Coast Mountains of the mainland. It is a large basin containing the Strait of Georgia in British Columbia and Puget Sound in Washington State. We are centred on the eastern side of Vancouver Island in an area known as the Eastern Vancouver Island Ecoregion, which is an area of reduced rainfall leeward of the Vancouver Island mountain ranges. After moving over these ranges, surface air flow is level or subsiding, creating clearer and drier conditions than in coastal areas adjacent to the open Pacific Ocean.
We have the greatest annual amount of sunshine in British Columbia, with temperatures the mildest in Canada, being modified by the ocean. The climate is similar to that found in the Mediterranean, with winters at sea level usually only below freezing at most for a few weeks each year. Snow does not fall every year at sea level, but because of the great amount of snow which accumulates on the mountains, Vancouver Island has the lowest treeline in the Province. As in all mountainous areas, conditions vary greatly with altitude, and with Mt. Arrowsmith’s peak (1816 m) only 18 km from the coast, microclimate gardening conditions can vary greatly over even short distances.
Gibsons\’ Garden (Painted Mountain)
Tofino, Vancouver Island, BC
The incredible hillside of rhododendrons on Fourth Street, Tofino, began in 1971 and has since grown to include over 2000 plants (about 1000 varieties). Referred to as Tofino\’s “painted mountain”, it is best enjoyed during April and May.
Photo Credit: Vancouver Island Postcards, Intermedia Press Ltd.
Our Ecoprovince supports the highest diversity of birds in British Columbia – 90% of all species known to occur in the Province and 60% of the species that breed in British Columbia. Vegetatively, the biogeoclimatic zone near the coast is the Moist Maritime Coastal Douglas-fir, and using the Sunset Western Garden Book, we are located in Zone 4.
This classification is not the same as the US Dept. of Agriculture\’s, which is based on winter minimum temperatures, but instead also includes summer high temperatures, length of growing season, humidity and rainfall patterns. Zone 4 is one of the smallest in the West, and is firstname.lastname@example.org not only by the ocean but also from the continental air mass. It differs from Zone 5 in that it has relatively extreme low winter temperatures more frequently, a shorter growing season, and in some areas (not ours!), more rainfall. No zone better grows perennials and bulbs, and it is great for woodland and rock plants. Over a 20-y period, winter lows ranged from -7 to -22°C.
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