Bloom of the Cherry Trees
The Perfect Day
I had been planning for a couple months to visit and film the cherry blossoms at the peak of their bloom. The first day of this peak-blossom time frame came four days earlier than predicted by meteorologists. When I saw the ticker at the bottom of the TV screen read that peak bloom started on what amounted to YESTERDAY, I gathered myself and got in gear!
Mother nature treated me kindly this day. A vibrant blue, cloudless sky and a healthy breeze made for a perfect afternoon among the blossoms, and even better conditions for filming them. The blooms danced in the breeze with monuments in the backdrop. Flanked around its banks with puffs of pink and white trees, the Tidal Basin rippled with waves and glints of sun.
Less Talk, More Zen
As I edited my fine footage to a soothing soundtrack back at home, I felt a physical reaction to viewing the cherry blossoms on my screen. My shoulders loosened and my breathing slowed. I even caught myself smiling mid-edit, repeatedly.
Then I recorded and inserted the usual educational tidbits—facts about the location, history of the blossoms, and so on. Yet, these soundbites served only to change my viewer experience to one of fact-gathering. So, I deleted most of the narrations. After all, the goal of my outdoor adventure videos is to inspire nature exploration by way of visceral viewer experiences. Another lesson learned that I’ll consider moving forward.
And so, I share a brief history of the Washington, D.C. cherry blossoms here in the blog for those of you who enjoy the tidbits. I certainly appreciate every informational gem I collect during my adventures. But, lest we forget, there is still much to be learned in the absence of words.
A Gift of Cherry Blossoms
In Washington, D.C., the Cherry Blossom Festival marks the unofficial start of spring during the anticipated peak bloom of the cherry trees. The festival remains virtual again this year, though masked visitors still stroll beneath the pink and white blossoms.
The most celebrated arrangement of cherry trees decorates the perimeter of the Potomac River Tidal Basin, leading visitors most notably to the Thomas Jefferson Memorial on the southern bank of the basin, and to the towering Washington Monument on the National Mall, a short walk from the northern bank of the basin.
The Tidal Basin and blossoms are also accompanied by a handful of monuments of lesser prominence. In addition to the Jefferson Memorial and nearby Washington Monument, visitors along the Tidal Basin may happen upon the Franklin Delano Roosevelt Memorial, the Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial, the Japanese Pagoda, the Japanese Lantern, the George Mason Memorial, the Commodore John Paul Jones Memorial, and more not far from the Basin.
–Cherry Blossom Watch
Those Responsible | Planting of the First Two Trees
First Lady Helen Herron Taft and journalist Eliza Skidmore were instrumental in planning the planting of cherry trees in the area of the Tidal Basin, also known as Potomac Park. Upon hearing of the First Lady’s plans to develop a beautiful landscape in Potomac Park as a gathering place for locals and visitors, Skidmore encouraged the First Lady to plant Japanese cherry trees. Skidmore had been requesting the introduction of cherry trees to D.C. for decades after visiting Japan. The collaboration began, word traveled, and Tokyo sponsored a gift of more than 3,000 cherry trees of 12 varieties as a gesture of friendship to the United States.
–Trust for the National Mall, National Geographic, NPS
The tradition of celebrating the blooming of cherry trees in Japan is centuries old.
The planting of cherry trees in Washington DC originated in 1912 as a gift of friendship to the People of the United States from the People of Japan.
The first two of these Japanese cherry trees (Yoshino variety) were planted along the northern bank of the Tidal Basin by First Lady, Helen Herron Taft, and the Viscountess Chinda, wife of the Japanese Ambassador. Today, a plaque marks the location, and the trees are reported to still be standing here. It is unclear which of the trees the in this location they are.
Around the World
Cherry tree blooms can be found in springtime throughout D.C., across the United States, and around the world. Do you celebrate cherry blossoms near you? Let me know in the comments below where in the world you live among these blossoming beauties.
I hope you’ll join me in the video below for this beautiful outdoor adventure. And please visit the Ecopsyched! YouTube channel and subscribe (and also hit that notifications bell) to never miss an adventure.
I hope your April is bursting with blossoms!
Thank you for joining me on this and future Ecopsyched! adventures.
My Video Gear
National Cherry Blossom Festival
NPS: History of the Cherry Trees
National Geographic: Cherry Tree Planting
Cherry Blossom Watch: Monuments of the Tidal Basin
Washington Post: Japan’s Other Gift at the Tidal Basin
Trust for the National Mall: The Women Who Planted the Cherry Trees on the National Mall
AFAR: 12 Places to See Cherry Blossoms in the United States
Fodor’s Travel: The 14 Best Cities to See Cherry Blossoms (around the world)
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Cherry Blossoms: Copyright © Lisa Barry 2021.
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