Because of one woman’s perseverance, more than 700,000 people from all corners of the globe stroll around the narrow pathway that encircles the Tidal Basin in Washington, DC to admire Mother Nature’s springtime handiwork: the majestic white-to-pink flowering of thousands of cherry trees during the annual National Cherry Blossom Festival.
Enthused by a visit to Japan in 1885, Eliza Scidmore — an American writer, photographer and lecturer, and the first female board member of the National Geographic Society — worked tirelessly to get ornamental Japanese cherry trees planted on reclaimed land at the edge of the Potomac River.
Ms. Scidmore’s nearly quarter-century crusade finally paid off as First Lady Helen Taft embraced her idea which led to the gifting of 3,020 cherry trees, in 12 different varieties, by the mayor of Tokyo City to the United States. Viscountess Iwa Chinda, wife of Japan’s ambassador, joined Mrs. Taft at a simple ceremony in 1912 for the planting of two saplings along the north bank of the Tidal Basin, and the rest is history.
Today, the District literally rolls out the pink carpet between mid March to mid April to celebrate the gifting and planting of those very first prunus serrulata trees and to welcome the arrival of spring, which also embraces flowering magnolias, bright daffodils, elegant irises and more all across the capital’s monumental landscape.
Highlighted by cloud-like canopies of blossoms surrounding the Tidal Basin in West Potomac Park, and accented by more than 90 city-wide, family-friendly events and 200 cultural performances and demonstrations, the National Cherry Blossom Festival is the perfect time to visit Washington, DC.
A world-class city embedded with a vibrant history, spectacular monuments, outstanding museums, plentiful parks, lush gardens and exceptional chef-driven cuisine, the District of Columbia is well worth the visit, especially now while she’s still all decked out in pink.
Spectacular and thanks for sharing the story behind it. I didn’t know about the background. I’ve never been in person, but it must be overwhelmingly beautiful.
Thanks for commenting, Janet. It took me several visits over a couple of years to finally catch the cherry blossoms in bloom. As you can see in the photos, it’s quite a colorful sight around the Tidal Basin.
Wonderful photos. The colours are fabulous. Very interesting narrative too. Well done!
Thanks, O. Too bad you couldn’t come along to see the flowering that morning; it was spectacular! Next time, IF we time it right, ok?
I’m not great with early morning starts!! 😴
Every time I see pictures of Washington’s cherry blossoms in bloom, I ask myself why I haven’t ever seen them in person. Obviously, I’ve been to DC at all the wrong times of the year. Until I get organized, I’ll have to live the experience through beautiful photos like yours . . .
Karen, thanks for the comment. Just plan to be there the first week of April. I got lucky this year when the temperature rose to the mid-70s and the blossoms suddenly popped out. Truly beautiful around the Tidal Basin.