The landscape of Victoria was formed by water in various forms. Pleistocene glaciation put the area under a thick ice cover, the weight of which depressed the land below present sea level. These glaciers also deposited stony sandy loam till. As they retreated, their melt water left thick deposits of sand and gravel. Marine clay settled on what would later become dry land. Post-glacial rebound exposed the present-day terrain to air, raising beach and mud deposits well above sea level. The resulting soils are highly variable in texture, and abrupt textural changes are common. In general, clays are most likely to be encountered in the northern part of town and in depressions. The southern part has coarse-textured subsoils and loamy topsoils. Sandy loams and loamy sands are common in the eastern part adjoining Oak Bay. Victoria's soils are relatively unleached and less acidic than soils elsewhere on the British Columbia Coast. Their thick dark topsoils denoted a high level of fertility which made them valuable for farming until urbanization took over.
Victoria has a temperate climate with mild, rainy winters and cool, dry and sunny summers. The Köppen climate classification places it at the northernmost limits of the cool, dry-summer subtropical zone (Csb) or cool-summer Mediterranean climate, due to its dry summers. Other climate classification systems, such as Trewartha, place it firmly in the Oceanic zone (Do).
At the Victoria Gonzales weather station, daily temperatures rise above on average less than one day per year and fall below on average only ten nights per year. Victoria has recorded completely freeze-free winter seasons four times (in 1925/26, 1939/40, 1999/2000, and 2002/03). 1999 is the only year on record without a single occurrence of frost. During this time the city went 718 days without freezing, starting on December 23, 1998 and ending December 10, 2000. The second longest frost-free period was a 686 day stretch covering 1925 and 1926, marking the first and last time the city has gone the entire season without dropping below 1°C (34°F).
During the winter, the average daily high and low temperatures are, respectively. The summer months are also relatively mild, with an average high temperature of and low of, although inland areas often experience warmer daytime highs. The highest temperature ever recorded in Victoria was on July 11, 2007, while the coldest temperature on record was on December 29, 1968. The average annual temperature varies from a high of that was set in 2004 to a low of set in 1916.
Thanks to the rain shadow effect of the nearby Olympic Mountains, areas of Victoria are drier than anywhere else on the British Columbia coast. Due to the effect of microclimates, areas of the city range from having a total annual precipitation of up to . Victoria gets less precipitation than Vancouver with, similar amounts as Seattle with and considerably less precipitation than Port Renfrew with, just away on the southwest coast of Vancouver Island.
One of the most striking features of Victoria's climate is that it has distinct dry and rainy seasons. Nearly two-thirds of the annual precipitation falls during the four wettest months, November to February. Precipitation in December, the wettest month is nearly eight times as high as in July, the driest month . Victoria experiences the driest summers in Canada (outside of the extreme northern reaches of the Northwest Territories and Nunavut).
Victoria averages just of snow annually, about half that of Vancouver. Every few decades Victoria receives very large snowfalls, including the record breaking of snow that fell in December 1996. That amount places Victoria 3rd for biggest snowfall among major cities in Canada. On the other hand, roughly one-third of winters see virtually no snow, with less than falling during the entire season. When snow does fall, it rarely lasts long on the ground. Victoria averages just two or three days per year with at least of snow on the ground.
With 2,193 hours of bright sunshine annually, Victoria is the sunniest city in British Columbia with the exception of Cranbrook. In July, 2013, Victoria received 432.8 hours of sunshine, which is the most sunshine ever recorded in any month in British Columbia history.
Victoria's equable climate has also added to its reputation as the "City of Gardens". The city takes pride in the many flowers that bloom during the winter and early spring, including crocuses, daffodils, early-blooming rhododendrons, cherry and plum trees. Every February there is an annual "flower count" in what for the rest of the country and most of the province is still the dead of winter.
Due to its mild climate, Victoria and its surrounding area (southeastern Vancouver Island, Gulf Islands, and parts of the Lower Mainland and Sunshine Coast) are also home to many rare, native plants found nowhere else in Canada, including Quercus garryana (Garry oak), Arctostaphylos columbiana (Hairy manzanita), and Canada's only broad-leaf evergreen tree, Arbutus menziesii (Pacific madrone). Many of these species exist here, at the northern end of their range, and are found as far south as southern California and parts of Mexico.
Non-native plants grown in Victoria include the cold-hardy palm Trachycarpus fortunei, which can be found in gardens and public areas of Victoria. One of these Trachycarpus palms stands in front of City Hall.
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Beacon Hill Park is a 75 ha (200 acre) park located along the shore of Juan de Fuca Strait in Victor...
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