by “Banana Joe” Clemente
Often referred to as “The Banana Belt of Canada,” the southern Gulf Islands boast a moderate climate that is pleasantly warm in the summer months and rarely very cold in the depths of winter. The area also receives more than 2000 hours sunshine annually – a lot more than nearby Vancouver to the north-east.
Although the islands experience their fair share of rain in the fall and winter months, you can still only expect 35 inches or so each year. It is much dryer here than most other coastal areas to the east of us. Also the islands seem to escape most of the strong winds which often hit Victoria.
Salt Spring’s Mediterranean climate is evident in the island’s plant life: low growing Manzanita bushes can be found flourishing at higher elevations, towering Arbutus trees grow in abundance. One species of indigenous Cactus can even be found growing on open sunny south-western slopes.
A winter without snow fall is not uncommon, and if it falls, it rarely stays around too long. It is also very common to find many exotic species of plants in the local landscape. Several species of Palm trees, Eucalyptus, and even a couple species of Banana plants grow outdoors all year long in our balmy climate.
The plant life found in local gardens would certainly make any eastern gardener envious!