Here are a few alternatives to the Tidal Basin chaos:
~ National Arboretum has a splendid and more varied display and LOTS or parking. Stroll around Fern Valley and the other gardens as well while you are there.
~ The Bethesda neighborhood of Kenwood for their stunning display. Park and walk in for an immersion in cherry tree lined streets.
~ Dumbarton Oaks in Georgetown has a marvelous orchard of cherries. There is an $8 admission feee that goes to support the gardens. Parking is also a bear in that neighborhood -- walk or take the bus.
~ Grow your own. In the very first issue of Washington Gardener Magazine, we did a PlantProfile column on the selection and cultivation of cherry trees for our area. Ever since getting my weeping 'Higan' cherry, I feel no need to rush downtown. I keep a daily watch on my baby tree and celebrate loudly when the buds finally burst open. I highly recommend it.
I took this cherry blossom photo towards the end of last year's festival.
*I define "tourist" as anyone who does not regularly visit the Mall or downtown DC. No matter what your home zip code may be, if you haven't been down there since last year's blossoms, you are a visitor too and have given up your rights to kvetch about all those annoying out-of-towners.
I received the following release from Brookside Gardens a few days ago and then went to vsit them myself yesteday. It is free to visit and I can attest that there are many picturesque views and plenty of gorgeous specimens. You may have to wait your turn behind a few bridal parties jockeying for the best photo ops, but it is nothing compared to the Tidal Basin crowds and is well worth a leisurely stroll around the grounds during any season.
>>Brookside Gardens also has beautiful cherry blossom trees and many other flowering trees like plum, apricot, magnolias, and quince in bloom right now, and you don't have to fight the crowds to see them. The gardens are also full of flowering bulbs like hyacinths, tulips, and hillsides of daffodils. If you come this weekend you'll also see one of the largest and oldest daffodil shows on the east coast sponsored by the Washington Daffodil Society. The show runs from Saturday, April 5, 2-5pm and on Sunday, 6, from 9am-4pm. Of course, you won't want to miss our spring conservatory display featuring orchids, jasmine, lilies, camellias, tulips and more, but hurry because the display ends on the 13th. Brookside Gardens, 1800 Glenallan Avenue, Wheaton, MD 20902. For more information, call 301-962-1400 or visit us online at http://www.brooksidegardens.org/.<<