On Thursday, March 23rd, the popular D.C. Cherry Blossoms reached peak bloom, considered to be “relatively early” according to the Cherry Blossom Watch website. Little as one may know, ensuring these beautiful trees reach peak bloom and are enjoyed by locals and visitors can be quite a job.
Since being gifted in 1912 as a token of friendship between Japan and the United States by Tokyo City’s Mayor Yukio Ozaki, these Japanese cherry trees have been under the expertise of Davey Tree — a tree expert company providing “research-driven” tree services. Lou Meyer, an arborist for the company, said Davey Tree has been “heavily involved” with trees in the D.C. region, including the cherry blossoms.
“The blossoms are just spectacular,” Meyer said. “They’re a great sign that spring is here, winter is over and good times are ahead.”
Taking care of the cherry blossoms requires a “low to medium” workload, which includes pruning the trees to ensure that the limbs won’t rub against each other and cause inner sucker – sprouts within the canopy — growth that clutter them. Removing deadwood, providing water and nutrient availability, and secure soil compaction in both urban and suburban areas are other tasks Meyers said the company has done to keep the cherry blossoms healthy.
One unique quality that the cherry blossoms have, according to Meyer, is that their petals fall down “abruptly,” instead of losing them one by one. This causes the petals to look like they are “raining down” two weeks after peak bloom. Although it can be a “bit of a pain” for a car owner parked under these trees, Meyer said it is a “small price to pay for an entire season of beauty.”
Although there are various kinds of cherry blossom trees in the D.C. region, Meyer said the Yoshino and Kwanzan Cherry Trees prove to be the most popular among locals and visitors. This could be due to various white and pink colors and “spreading vase-shaped” growth.
As for which spots are the best to view these cherry blossom trees, Meyer said Tidal Basin, a man-made reservoir between the Potomac River and D.C., is the “most popular” place to see them. Although traffic may be heavy, the location offers a backdrop of various monuments; including the Martin Luther King Jr. and Thomas Jefferson memorials, among others. The National Arboretum, located in southeast D.C., also has a “terrific collection” of cherry blossom trees in a “low-traffic” area.
Since most cherry blossom trees are medium-sized, Meyer said the D.C. landscape is a “great choice” for them to grow due to the climate. Although peak bloom has already happened, Meyer said higher temperatures throughout the winter result in an earlier bloom. Since this year’s winter has been one of the warmest, this year’s bloom has tied for the earliest in D.C.‘s history of having the trees.
As an arborist, Meyer said his favorite part of being involved with the cherry blossoms is “seeing the joy” in other people’s eyes when first seeing the trees. He said first-time viewers should expect a “mix of emotions” as one experiences “the beauty that nature provides us on a daily basis.”
“[Davey Tree]’s biggest goal in life is to encourage the enjoyment of trees and expose people to the benefits and joy that they can bring to your life,” Meyer said. “When you see these exceptional displays, it reminds you that the world is a spectacular place and we’re lucky to be here.”