Thursday, March 4, 2010

Oh Hai Cherry Blossoms

The National Park Service predicted today the cherry blossoms in Washington, DC to be at peak bloom on April 8. The peak bloom date is defined as the day in which 70 percent of the blossoms of the Yoshino Cherry (Prunus x yedoensis) trees that surround the Tidal Basin are open. The date when the Yoshino cherry blossoms reach peak bloom varies from year to year, depending on weather conditions.

This year’s Cherry Blossom Festival runs from March 27-April 11. Festival dates are set based on the average date of blooming (April 4), but nature is not always cooperative. Unseasonably warm and/or cool temperatures have resulted in the Yoshino cherries reaching peak bloom as early as March 15 (1990) and as late as April 18 (1958).

The Festival commemorates the 1912 gift of Japanese cherry trees from the people of Japan to the city of Washington. Hanami (literally meaning “flower viewing") is the Japanese traditional custom of enjoying the beauty of flowers. In Japan, thousands of people fill the parks to hold feasts under the flowering trees, and sometimes these parties go on until late at night.

More information about the National Cherry Blossom Festival can be found