The U.S. National Park Service has set the dates for the 2010 National Cherry Blossom Festival in Washington DC as March 27 to April 11, and predicts the average peak bloom will occur on April 4. Evidently, the trees survived our February Snowpocalypse with little or no damage to their blooms.
From the NPS press release:
The Blooming Period is defined as the period that starts when 20% of the blossoms are open and ends when the petals fall and the leaves appear. The Blooming period starts several days before the Peak Bloom Date and can last as long as 14 days; however, frost or high temperatures combined with wind and/or rain can shorten this period.
During the Blooming Period, the National Park Service conducts annual Cherry Tree Walks and bike tours around the Tidal Basin. These Park Ranger conducted programs present an interpretive look at the historical and cultural influence of the Japanese Flowering Cherry Trees in our Nation's Capital. For information on the dates and times of the walks and bike tours please call (202) 426-6841.
The cherry tree blossoming is one of those local events I try not to miss. Really very lovely.
The cherry trees were a gift from Japan in 1912, and were intended to symbolize the friendship that existed between the peoples of the two countries. Helen Herron Taft, the wife of President Taft, and the Viscountess Chinda, wife of the Japanese Ambassador to the United states, planted the first two cherry trees in March of that year.
To put a political twist on a botanical matter, you might ask: how did the trees fare during the severe rupture of U.S. - Japanese relations that occurred 29 years after they were planted? Very well, it turns out. According to the NPS web page on the history of the cherry trees, only four of them were vandalized after Pearl Harbor, and for the duration of the Second World War the trees were officially referred to as "Oriental" flowering cherry trees. All was soon forgiven after the war, and in 1952, after the stock of trees in the Adachi Ward near Tokyo had fallen into decline, the NPS sent budwood from the original Japanese donation to restore the grove.