Saturday, March 06, 2010

It's About Bloomin' Time!

Cherry Blossom Blooming Time, that is! I have been trying for the past few years to make the opening press event for the National Cherry Blossom Festival and this year finally the stars-aligned and I was able to make it to the media event at the Newseum this past Thursday morning. The place was swarming with local and international press all waiting to hear them tells us just WHEN the cherry blossoms would start to bloom and when they'd be at their peak.

   First though, they fed us a nice breakfast and had us chat with event sponsors, participating organizations, Japanese dignitaries, and related DC events. Sure, I think Ikebana at the USNA is cool and the Kite Fest on the Smithsonian mall is fun, but really, let's talk blossoms!

   Okay, we are seated. Cameras roll. Microphones are on. We then get to hear from (a tardy) Mayor Fenty (pictured at left) and several others about how great the event is, yeah, we know, but WHEN are the blossoms coming?!?

   Finally, the last speaker takes the stage. National Park Service horticulturist Rob DeFeo (pictured below) is already sweating and on the defensive. He starts off by debunking all the guff we've heard about blizzards damaging our precious cherry trees. A bunch of hooey, Rob scoffs, just like those sensationalistic beaver-attack media reports. They lost 4-5 trees and that is very normal for winter. He says they are replaced and we'll never notice the diff. He goes on to say, yes, a few branches were broken, but again, normal. They will be trimmed up and we'll never know the storm happened. Rob says in Japan heavy snow is normal and the trees don't care. Then, he gets to the heart of it. If you follow my Twitter feed (@WDCgardener) you read it virtually live as Rob said it. Drumroll, please...

   The cherry blossoms will bloom from March 31 through April 11. The peak will be April 3-8 when 70% of the blooms are doing their thing. He predicted this will be the 10th year in a row the cherry trees have bloomed right in time with the festival, of which he felt quite proud.

   On a side note, he said the longest bloom period was 17 days and that was in 2008. That aspect is harder to predict than when they'll start, Rob noted, as storms and other weather elements can cut the length of the actual bloom time shorter.

  So now we know and we can mark our calendars, check our camera batteries, invite our out-of-town kin, and start picking out our pink dresses and ties for DC's beautiful blooming tradition. See you at the Tidal Basin!

UPDATE: The National Park Service has announced the bloom time is coming earlier than predicted. Our warm, sunny first weekend of spring means the trees will be flowering about 3 days earlier and peak will be around April 1. Don't fret if you planned on visiting later, not all varieties bloom at once and blossoms due hold on for a while (barring any nasty, windy storms).

UPDATE ON THAT UPDATE: According to the National Cherry Blossom Festival's bloom watch today (3/29), the peak bloom dates have now moved up to April 1 and 2, with the blooming period from March 27 through April 8 (shorter than usual). Now who still doubts Global Warming?

10 comments:

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Susan Tunis said...

Kathy,

Thanks for stopping by my blog to say "hello." It was a great surprise to hear from Mary, and a great pleasure to hear from you. I'm only sorry I wasn't in the expected city.

I've got no plans to return to DC in the immediate future, but I may be in town over the summer. Perhaps there will be a chance to connect. It may be a very, very brief visit, as my sister and nephew are living at my parents and I've got no place to stay. :-(

Please visit my blog any time if you're looking for book recommendations. Meanwhile, I have a friend here in SF who has two trips to DC coming up. I'm especially jealous, as I love being home for the cherry blossoms. I'll be sharing this blog post with her.

Thanks for reaching out!

WashingtonGardener said...

Glad you stopped by, Susan. My couch is open ifyou eneed a place to crash. Warning: two kitties may also be bouncing off you at night.

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