(Cherry trees line the Tidal Basin)
We know it's springtime in Washington, DC, when the National Cherry Blossom Festival rolls around. This annual two-week celebration marks the 1912 gift of the cherry blossom trees and the lasting friendship between Japan and the United States.
This year the Festival runs from March 27 to April 11, 2010. We went up for part of the afternoon on Saturday, March 27, which also happened to be Family Day.
(Paddle boats in the Tidal Basin)
Since we were more interested in seeing the cherry trees and their blossoms than in the festivities, we didn't stay for the Opening Ceremony. But with a succession of Events on the agenda for the next two weeks, we will have other opportunities to celebrate if we can find the time.
(Base of the Washington Monument, National Mall)
(Kite-flying on the National Mall)
Activities and events to choose from include art and music displays, fireworks, dinner cruises, a 10-mile run, and a lantern-lighting ceremony. The Cherry Blossom Parade on Saturday, April 10, is an occasion many people look forward to.
Many people might not realize that the blossoms come in a several shades of pink and white.
I had always assumed they were all pink until I started looking more closely.
From a bit of research I've discovered there are up to 12 cherry tree varieties in and around the Tidal Basin, National Mall and surrounding Washington, DC metro area.
"...The Yoshino cherry tree, with single white blossoms, is the predominant variety that encircles the Tidal Basin. Mingled among these are Akebono cherry trees, a mutation of the Yoshino tree with single, pale-pink blossoms and the Kwanzan cherry tree with clear, pink double blossoms. Cultivars 'Fugenzo' (double, rosy pink flowers) and 'Shirofugen' (double white when open but aging to pink) are also represented. The Weeping Japanese Cherry tree (sometimes referred to as the Higan cherry tree) is interspersed among the others. The flowers of the Weeping Cherry vary from single to double and flower colors range from dark pink to white. Other varieties include the Autumn Flowering Cherry tree (semi-double, pink flowers), Sargent Cherry tree (single, deep pink flowers), the Usuzumi Cherry tree (white-grey flowers), and Takesimensis Cherry tree..."
Visiting DC during the Cherry Blossom Festival allows cherry-blossom-framed views of the historical national monuments, such as the Jefferson Memorial
(View of Jefferson Memorial through a screen of cherry blossoms)
and the Lincoln Memorial.
The sight of (what's left of) this 80-90 year old American Elm caught our eye.
The sign below explains what happened.
We had an extremely unusual winter in Washington this year!
If you're interested in even more information about the National Cherry Blossom Festival, as well as more details about the cherry trees themselves, visit both of the following links: National Cherry Blossom Festival and National Park Service.
Today I am thankful for spending an afternoon with my husband and two children.
Words and photos ©Thanks For Today, by Jan Huston Doble