Saturday, March 19, 2016

17+ Cherry Blossom Viewing Alternatives in the DC Region



(One of our most popular and imitated annual blog posts -- updated for 2016.)


It is Cherry Blossom Festival madness again in Washington, DC. If you have been there/done that, hate the crowds, or just can’t get enough of those dainty pink and white blossoms and want more, here are a several local alternatives to the Tidal Basin display:

Public Gardens

~ The 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. Take the Self-Guided Tour: Beyond the Tidal Basin: Introducing Other Great Flowering Cherries  to explore the arboretum’s collection of over 2,000 cherry trees representing 600 different cultivars, hybrids, and species of various shapes, sizes, flower colors, and bloom times, including trees that have been created by arboretum scientists. Note: The free tour covers several miles of arboretum roads, and can be driven, biked, or walked. Pick up a brochure in the Administration Building.

~ Tudor Place hosts three Cherry Blossom Tea and also a Blossoms and Bubbly night. Or take a stroll on your own through the spectacular Yoshino Cherry Blossoms during the full bloom. Inside the Historic Mansion, enjoy an up-close look at Tudor Place’s collection of early 20th century Japanese fans. Event and entry fees apply.

~ Dumbarton Oaks in Georgetown, WDC, has a marvelous orchard of cherries. There is an $8 admission fee that goes to support the gardens. Parking is also a bear in that neighborhood -- I recommend you walk or take the bus.

~ Hillwood Estate in NW DC is pleased to celebrate the National Cherry Blossom Festival with short guided tours of Mrs. Post’s Japanese-style garden. Docents will be available to answer questions between the tours. The suggested entry donation to Hillwood is $12 per adult.

~ Brookside Gardens in Wheaton, MD, 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.

~ Meadowlark Botanical Gardens in Vienna, VA, has over 100 cherry trees surrounding a lovely lake that you can stroll around. Admission to the gardens is a mere $5

Lewis Ginter Botanical Gardens in Richmond, VA, has a ring of Yoshino cherry trees around their lake and Okame cherry blooms throughout the gardens. There is an entry fee of $10 to visit the gardens.

~  River Farm in Alexandria, VA, is a historic 25-acre site on the banks of the Potomac River. River Farm was once part of George Washington’s original five farms, and currently the headquarters of the American Horticultural Society. The grounds offer spectacular river views, a wildlife garden, and delightful children’s areas. 

~ Green Spring Gardens near Annandale, VA, hosts  a Children's Cherry Blossom Celebration. On April 2, 2016, come to Green Spring Gardens to celebrate spring and the Japanese gift of the cherry trees. Test your chop stick abilities, try Japanese black ink painting, decorate paper fans, fold origami and more. Enjoy free activities or have even more fun by purchasing a craft ticket that gives you access to a variety of Japanese-inspired crafts. This program is intended for ages 5 to adult. No reservations required, but advance registration for craft tickets are recommended. Craft tickets are $10 and can be ordered at www.fairfaxcounty.gov/parks/greenspring using code 290 289 9201. Call 703-642-5173 with questions. Event runs from 1pm – 3pm.
  On April 10, 2016, adults can enjoy a  Madame Butterfly Tea at Green Spring Gardens . Japan meets America in the tale of Cho-Cho-San and her lover Pinkerton. Hear excerpts from the short story that inspired Puccini’s beloved opera. Discover the prevailing attitudes that brought them together, and the “temporary wives” who became real-life “Butterflies.” Afterwards, enjoy a special Japanese-themed afternoon tea and favor bag. This is an official program of the National Cherry Blossom Festival. Reservations required. $42 for the program and tea or $12 for the program only. Event runs from 1pm – 3pm, for adults only. To make reservations, call Historic Green Spring at 703-941-7987

Neighborhoods & Other Less-visited Spots

~ The Bethesda, MD, neighborhood of Kenwood for their stunning display. Park and walk in for an immersion in cherry tree lined streets.

~ Sarah Lawler suggests The Japanese American Memorial to Patriotism During World War II is a beautiful spot to see cherry blossoms. It is located near Union Station at the intersection of Louisiana Ave., New Jersey Ave. and D Street, NW, WDC. And across the street is a grove on the U.S. Capitol grounds.

~ Foxhall and Reservoir Rds, NW. Washington, DC. The Foxhall Village neighborhood near Georgetown has cherry blossom-lined streets that are known as the best-kept secret among locals.

~ Brenda Lynn shared she always bikes from Arlingto, VA, in order to avoid having to park to take metro. It's a beautiful ride, and one could also bike along the GW parkway in VA to view all the blooms along the Potomac River

~ Anacostia Park at 900 Anacostia Drive, SE. Washington, DC. Cherry trees bloom along the Anacostia River at the 1,200-acre park that is one of Washington, DC's largest recreation areas.

~ An anonymous post to my blog, tipped me off that there are several blocks of cherry blossom trees creating an arch above the streets of Garrett Park Estates in Kensington, MD. "Take Strathmore Road near Holy Cross Church, turn onto Flanders and then I think it’s Waycross. The trees span several streets, are lovely, and totally free of crowds!"

~ Adam Bailey let me know that “Stanton Park and Lincoln Park on the Hill — and the Capitol Hill neighborhoods in general — have a good display of blossoms, too.”

~ "Scott Circle, at Massachusetts & 16th, also has some great cherry blossoms," reports John Boggan.

~ Katie said, "There's a neighborhood off Query Mill in North Potomac, MD, that has streets lined with cherry trees. Not as fantastic as Kenwood, but if you're in the upper Montgomery County, it may be more accessible. Streets include Moran and Bonnie Dale. It blooms a few days later than Kenwood."

~ There is a new website that lets you enter your zip code to find blooming street trees near your location. To try it out, go here: http://www.dccherrypicker.com/

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.

Got other DC-area Cherry Tree viewing locations? Please share them in the comments below.


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