Washington D.C.'s Cherry Blossom Festival

It's Cherry Blossom time in D.C., one of my favorite times of year. I went down this past weekend with my friend and although we may have missed the height of the pink explosion of color, we still caught the beautiful fluffy arbols looking picture perfect against a very blue sky. They could still pass as postcard images that you find in the souvenir kiosks all around the city.

As one would expect it was crowded with people from all over the world carrying cameras. It was warm for a change and walking to the Tidal Basin was made that much nicer. There still was some wind but we didn't mind, when we got to the trees, we were showered on by the falling petals-- it was very romantic.

There were some Cherry tree sections that were more popular than others, especially if they were accessible for a good climb! It's probably illegal--the Cherry Trees are considered a national landmark and Park Police will call you out if you touch them too much or try to cut them. (No I didn't have my clippers...!) But they often turn the other eye, and unless the crowd gets out unruly, you can break a low hanging blossom easily to carry as a memento of your trip. Woman and children of all ages walked around with blossoms in their hair looking very adorable.

There were families and friends and lovers all over both sections of the Basin admiring the Cherry trees. We spotted picnickers under some big, shaded trees eating gourmet meals with glasses of wine, which I thought was a wonderful idea for next year.

Since I like to include a little history in my postings, here is some background on the famous Cherry trees. In 1912, the people of Japan sent over 3020 trees as a gift of friendship. The trees were planted in several locations: around the Tidal Basin in West and East Potomac Park, and on the grounds by the Washington Monument. There are now approximately 3,750 cherry trees that are in these locations. Most of the trees are Yoshino Cherry, but there are others such as Kwanzan Cherry, Akebono Cherry, Takesimensis Cherry, Usuzumi Cherry, Weeping Japanese Cherry, Sargent Cherry, Autumn Flowering Cherry, Fugenzo Cherry, Afterglow Cherry, Shirofugen Cherry and Okame Cherry.

The idea to plant cherry trees along the Potomac originated with a travel writer and photographer by the name of Mrs. Eliza Ruhamah Scidmore, back in 1885. Her idea was finally implemented in 1912 by President Taft's wife. She and Viscountess Chinda (the Japanese Ambassador's wife) planted the first two trees on March 27, 1912. The first official Cherry Blossom festival did not begin until 1934.

The trees are all marked (tagged), and are cared for by members of the Tree Crew for National Capital Parks-Central.

While all of the trees are truly, equally beautiful, my favorite ones were those whose branches dip into the water. Planting them along the Tidal Basin was an ingenious idea, it makes for a very sensuous backdrop. They reminded me of some of John Waterhouse's paintings.

As we were leaving, we found this little blossom poking out of a trunk which we thought was precious.

April 4th was probably it for the last really good cherry tree spying day for this year. While each year the blooming period fluctuates, the best times to go are normally March 28- April 11. Average peak bloom date is April 4, so they bloomed a bit early this year. The blooming period can last up to 14 days, but factors such as rain and wind can shorten its span. If you didn't make it this year, go next year! It is worth the long walk, I promise!


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