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March 26, 2012

6

National Cherry Blossom Festival in Washington D.C.

by Scholastica Travel

Students traveling to Washington D.C. this past week witnessed something truly incredible. Not only was it the time of the National Cherry Blossom Festival, but the cherry blossoms were in peak bloom during the centennial celebration. As one eight-grade student noted, “This is absolutely amazing, a once in a lifetime experience.” As students explored history, they were greeted with waves of the heavenly scented blossoms. Groups stopped in their tracks exclaiming, “It smells so good!” and yelling to their friends, “Come over here, this is the BEST spot!” The blossoms breathed a layer of whimsy and magic into the grandeur of Washington D.C. They were certainly a sight to behold!

Cherry Blossoms at Peak Bloom around Tidal Basin

The cherry blossoms were given as a gift by Tokyo to Washington D.C. in 1912 and were commemorated with a simple ceremony on March 27, 1912. The first two trees were planted on the north bank of the Tidal Basin in West Potomac Park by First Lady Helen Herron Taft and Viscountess Chinda, wife of the Japanese ambassador. These two trees are marked with a large bronze plaque and are located several hundred yards west of the John Paul Jones Memorial, at the terminus of 17th Street, SW.

An original gift of 2,000 trees arrived in 1910 but was met with great dismay. The trees were diseased and infested with insects and nematodes. Fearing for the American growers, the Department of Agriculture destroyed the trees by burning. The Japanese ambassador expressed deep regret and increased the second gift to 3,020 trees which arrived just two years later. The 3,020 trees were composed of 12 different varieties as follows:

“Somei-Yoshino” ………………………………1,800 (Predominantly around the Tidal Basin)
“Ari ake”……………………………………………..100
“Fugen-zo”………………………………………….120
“Fuku-roku-ju”…………………………………….. 50
“Gyo-i-ko”…………………………………………..  20 (Gyoiko were all planted on the White House Grounds)
“Ichiyo”………………………………………………160
“Jo­nioi”……………………………………………….80
“Kwan-zan”………………………………………….350 (Growing primarily in East Potomac Park)
“Mikuruma­gayeshi”………………………………..20
“Shira-yuki”………………………………………….130
“Surugadai­nioi”……………………………………..50
“Taki­nioi”…………………………………………….140
Total………………………………………………..3,020

In 1915, the U.S. government reciprocated by giving dogwood trees to the people of Japan. The Japanese government gave an additional gift of 3,800 trees to Lady Bird Johnson in 1965. Many of these trees are planted near the Washington Monument.

The entire city is celebrating. Even the turnstiles in the metro station were decorated with pink cherry blossom stickers! This festival is being held for an unprecedented five weeks in honor of the centennial   celebration and will continue until April 27, 2012. Head to Washington D.C. as soon as possible to see the cloud of pink blossoms!

Photos of Cherry Blossom Peak: http://www.flickr.com/photos/scholasticainc/sets/72157629672310643/with/6871488394/

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6 Comments Post a comment
  1. Mar 26 2012

    Those are great images, I wish I could have been there.

    Reply
    • Mar 29 2012

      It was beautiful! Thank you for reading and for the compliment on the images. The festival will last until April 27, you still have time!

      Reply
  2. Mar 29 2012

    I’m so glad you left this link in your comment on my blog! Thank you. I would have loved to have been there to see the student’s reactions. I used to be a teacher and experiences like that I never stop missing even after 8 years away from the classroom. Your photos are so lovely… how wonderful your trip coincided with the peak of the season! I didn’t know about the reciprocal gift of dogwood trees.

    Reply
  3. Mar 29 2012

    Great images! I wish I could have enjoyed them peak bloom! They make the scenery look so dreamy!

    Reply

Trackbacks & Pingbacks

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