Cherry Blossom Notes

CHERRY BLOSSOMS

Cherry1In Japan, the tree called Sakura, also widely known as cherry blossom, is a distinguished flowering plant. Cherry blossom is a hallmark for the evanescence and fragility of human life and represents the evolution of the Japanese culture throughout the years. The fleeting life of the flowers, their paramount beauty, and their speedy death, has often been analogous to mortality; for this reason, cherry blossoms are highly emblematic.

The planting of cherry trees began in 1912 when the Japanese Mayor Yukio Ozaki of Tokyo gave 3,000 cherry trees as a gift of friendship to Washington, D.C. Every year, the National Cherry Blossom Festival commemorates and honors the continued relationship between Japan and the United States.

It took so much effort from many people to ensure the safe arrival of the cherry trees. On January 6, 1910, a total of 2,000 trees made it from Japan to Seattle, Washington. It was on the 19th of the same month when a team from the Department of Agriculture found out that the plants had been infested with nematodes and insects. Unfortunately, the trees had to be destroyed to protect the American growers. However, this unexpected circumstance did not deter the two countries. Mayor Ozaki suggested a second donation be made, this time, increasing the number of trees to 3,020. Twelve varieties of cherry trees were on board the S.S. Awa Maru all the way from Yokohama to Seattle. The twelve varieties that reached Washington on the 26th of March 1912 were comprised of the following:

• Somei-Yoshino ………………………………1,800
• Ari ake……………………………………………. 100
• Fugen-zo………………………………………….120
• Fuku-roku-ju…………………………………..50
• Gyo-i-ko……………………………………………20
• Ichiyo………………………………………………..160
• Jo­nioi……………………………………………….80
• Kwan-zan…………………………………………350
• Mikuruma­gayeshi…………………………20
• Shira-yuki………………………………………..130
• Surugadai­nioi………………………………..50
• Taki­nioi…………………………………………..140

The gift giving was not one-sided. Over the years, gifts from Japan and the United States have been exchanged. The latter reciprocated Japan’s act of kindness by sending them a gift of flowering dogwood tress in 1915. One day in 1952, the parent stock of Washington’s first cherry trees had fallen into decline during World War II. Japan sought help from the American government to restore the original site. Consequently and almost immediately, the National Park Service shipped offshoot from the descendants of those same exact trees in an attempt to replace the fallen cherry trees along the Arakawa River near Tokyo.
Japan holds plenty of variety of cherry blossoms (Sakura). More than 200 cultivars can be found there, though only one variety seems to stand out among others. The most popular in Japan is the Somei Yushino whose flowers are almost pure white like the clouds, and tinged with the lightest pink mostly near the stem. They bloom and usually start to fall within a week, just right before the leaves emerge. This period allows the cherry trees to look absolutely white from the top to the middle. Hanami, or cherry blossom viewing, is a favorite pastime of the Japanese. They picnic under a blooming sakura or ume tree, eat lunch and drink sake in happy feasts. This famous practice is said to have started as early as the 8th century. Although it was first made exclusive to the elite of the Imperial Court, later on, it spread to samurai society. By the Edo period, it eventually became accessible to the common people as well.

Where flowers bloom so does hope.”-Lady Bird Johnson

The festival in the year 2012 was its centennial anniversary and was marked with a five-week celebration. The National Cherry Blossom Festival has fully developed from small beginnings to the greatest springtime commemoration of the nation. Every year, the festival is open to around 1.5 million people wishing to witness Washington’s Tidal Basin burst into color. The beautiful display of floral fireworks astonishes locals and visitors from all around the world. It starts on March 20 and ends on April 14. The festival involves 3,000 trees, floats, parades, giant balloons, and musical entertainment.

On the other hand, the International Cherry Blossom Festival is held every spring in Macon, Georgia. With 300,000 Yushino cherry trees that bloom in college campuses, around downtown, and the neighborhoods of Macon in late March each year, Macon has obtained the title “Cherry Blossom Capital of the World.” It is a ten-day celebration that features people across different ages and from all lifestyles. landscaping with cherry trees

The cherry blossom festivals have spawned many landscaping ideas. People from all over the world are designing Japanese gardens. These gardens sometimes include blue pools with hardscaped walkways.

For more ideas in landscaping with cherry trees and other plants go here.

Tokyo is one of the best places to start a tour in Japan. The nearby cities like Osaka and Himeji are frequently visited, too. Stockholm in Sweden also has its own feast of the cherry trees. Kungsträdgârden (King’s Garden), the Stockholm’s most central park, is where trees herald the arrival of spring.

It is also possible to enjoy the colorful trees in Shanghai, China. The scenery is best viewed at Gucun Park where hundreds of trees cover more that 13 hectares. If you happen to be in South Korea, visit Seoul and enjoy the Youido blossom festival. Furthermore, head to the Kew Gardens in Surrey if you are in London and wanting to watch cherry blossoms. For locals in and travelers to Vancouver, never miss the festival they hold from April 5 to April 28. Include also in your itinerary the High Park Cherry Blossom Walk in Toronto that starts in late April to early May. Toronto, specifically the High Park, is another recipient of Japan’s precious gift – a collection of delicate Yoshino cherry trees most famous for their fluffy, snow-white blossoms.

Several more Asian, European, and North American countries not mentioned above experience the grandeur of this flower display.

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