April is a glorious time to enjoy many areas in the northern hemisphere as Spring takes hold and blooms of all types emerge following a cold winter. Washington D.C. is no exception. Thanks to a gift from Japan over a century ago, the city has become famous for its iconic cherry tree blossoms around the Tidal Basin. The delicate pink and white flowers last about 10 days, and for many years have been surrounded by an abundance of activities during the city’s Cherry Blossom Festival. This year has provided a rare treat as the peak bloom will coincide with the large annual street parade.
Visitors from around the world are in town, especially from Asia and specifically Japan. My daily commute takes me through the Tidal Basin area. I’m always gratified to see people on the crowded sidewalks and around the trees enjoying the beauty in person, and in many cases for the first time.
The oldest trees ring the actual Tidal Basin and what most people see in photos. These trees are the second shipment of Japan’s gift planted in 1912. The first trees arrived three years earlier but were destroyed when they were found to be infested by disease and insects. Legend has it that a small group of trees from the first shipment were salvaged and replanted on land that is now a golf course at nearby East Potomac Park.
No doubt some old trees are there. It is one of my favorite places to enjoy thanks to a gorgeous stretch of road lined by younger but well established cherry trees on both sides. In some locations, they form a spectacular flowering canopy. It’s a hidden gem in Washington where anyone can enjoy the splendor of our Asian connection without the crowds.