Washington DC: Can You Say Cherry Blossoms?

Every year Washington DC has its annual Cherry Blossom Festival.  And during the weeks leading up to this event, swarms of people descend on our fair city just to get a look at the guest of honor, the Cherry Blossom.

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Now I’m not going to lie to you.  I like flowers and trees just as much as the next person.  But when I hear that close to a million people will be in one place at one time (with nary a bathroom in site) I tend to stay far, far away.

So I’m not sure what possessed us this weekend, but the CPA and I decided that we just had to go see the what all the fuss was about.  I mean when you live this close, it’s really a shame to miss it, right?  So we went to bed early Friday night and woke in time to get downtown before sunrise.   Apparently, however, we weren’t the only ones who had this stroke of genius, and we soon found ourselves surrounded by hundreds of photo enthusiasts, dog walkers, and early-morning runners.  But you know what?  Even though it was freezing and we weren’t dressed appropriately for the cold weather, I am so glad we went.

And I’m glad we went early too.  Even at the early hour of 6:30 am, the CPA had to park almost a mile away just to find a spot.  But, we got to see the sun come up and let me tell you that there was no prettier place than the one where we were standing.  The dark of the sky slowly changed to pink,

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and then to gold.

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As it became lighter, the color of the trees began to change too.

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While it was dark, it was hard to see the vibrant pinks of the petals.

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But once the sun was in the sky, the flowers were bright and beautiful.

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As the sun continued its ascent, we decided to head to the other side of the basin.  The Tidal Basin (you may remember pictures of it from my previous post on the Jefferson Memorial) is in a round shape and hundreds of these Japanese cherry trees line its edge.

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The trees were planted in 1912 as a gift of friendship from Japan.  Every spring since, they have blossomed for an average of two weeks, giving visitors plenty of time to enjoy their beauty.

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There are many different kinds of blossoms too.

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There are the Yoshinos, (which is the dominant variety found here at the Tidal Basin), the Akebono (these are pale pink at first, then they turn white and go back to pink as they wilt),

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the Kwanzan (this flower grows in clusters with about 30 petals in each), the Usuzumi (which is a national treasure in Japan and can grow up to 40 feet high), and the Sargent (this cherry is light pink and is the most resistant to the cold weather).

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And a visit to see the trees isn’t complete without stopping by the ceremonial Japanese Lantern.  This stone lantern was originally part of a pair that once stood near a temple in Tokyo and it is over 350 years old.  Now it is used during the opening ceremonies of the Cherry Blossom Festival when women related to Japanese diplomats light it.  This has been the practice since it first came to DC in 1954.

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Who knew there was such history behind something as simple as a Cherry Blossom tree?

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I’m glad we were able to be a part of the celebration this year.  It is truly amazing to see such natural beauty growing so unexpectedly in the middle of a large city.  It quite literally takes your breath away.

I’m already planning to return next year. 

Have you ever seen the Cherry Blossoms?  If so, what did you think, was it worth the visit?

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Joanna - April 7, 2009 - 4:15 am

Those are beautiful! Thanks for the pictures. I wonder what percentage of the people attending the Cherry Blossom festival are also Leaf Peepers.

Joanna´s last blog post..Last One!

Julie - April 7, 2009 - 4:27 am

I’m very jealous. I lived in Maryland for 5 years. Went to D.C. 4 times but still never made it for the cherry blossoms. And, we still have a little snow here. Mostly just snowbanks but still. No flowers yet. :(

Julie´s last blog post..I’m Too Old for This…Stuff, He Said Stuff

Janet - April 7, 2009 - 5:08 am

I am a more or less native Marylander (with military parents it’s hard to call one place home!). I have only seen the cherry blossoms from a distance, in a car, and they were still literally breathtaking.

Kelly - April 7, 2009 - 5:24 am

I absolutely love the Cherry Blossoms and made it a tradition to come every year. Unfortunately the last few yrs of school have been hectic, so I’ve missed them :( Perhaps next year! I always drive down and take the Metro in – Smithsonian and Federal Triangle are pretty close. Can you tell I don’t like city driving? :)

Briony - April 7, 2009 - 5:52 am

wow those pictures are beautiful…thank you for sharing them with those of us that are too far to enjoy the beauty first hand :)

Briony´s last blog post..silent melody

Jana - April 7, 2009 - 6:52 am

I was a Cherry Blossom Princess while I was in college. It was pretty fun. We were at the lighting of the Lantern, met the Ambassador from Japan and took part in a tea ceremony at their house, and were pretty much paraded around the city for a week. It was way fun! The most hilarious part was that the blossoms were just starting to come out and wouldn’t peak for another two weeks. I took my kids a few years later, but, even though it’s breathtakingly beautiful, I don’t like crowds, fighting for parking spaces, or traffic. I am sure we’ll go again in a few years.

Jana´s last blog post..I Made That

Carissa - April 7, 2009 - 7:19 am

I lived in DC for 6 months in college and it was the first 6 months of the year – we suffered through the parade and went to see the blossoms almost every day. Your amazing pictures make me miss DC even more!

Carissa´s last blog post..In an attempt to say Thank You to all of you…

Gracia - April 7, 2009 - 7:39 am

Too bad I live thousands of miles away, it looks truly beautiful and magical from your photos… and I guess that, as it normally happens, they don’t really show the magic of it.

Gracia´s last blog post..Star Wars Marathon

Kristina - April 7, 2009 - 8:28 am

Wow, that is amazing. I don’t know how motivated I would be to go, but it’s beautiful.

Kristina´s last blog post..The Secret Garden

Mindee@ourfrontdoor - April 7, 2009 - 8:31 am

Gorgeous! You have such a gift as a photographer.

Mindee@ourfrontdoor´s last blog post..Over The Weekend

M to T&D&D&A&T - April 7, 2009 - 8:57 am

Those are stunning – I particularly love the two showing the sun coming up over the monument. The blossoms are just gorgeous and how I wish I could be there one of these years to enjoy them oursevles. When I do visit the DC area, it’s never been at this time of year. Maybe in the coming years I’ll make it a point to visit during this time so we can all enjoy the cherry blossoms. Thanks so much for getting out there early so you and the CPA could enjoy them for yourselves and then sharing them with us.

Serene - April 7, 2009 - 8:59 am

Wow! I’ve never seen those before! Your pictures are amazing!

I’ve only ever been to D.C. once when I was about 14 years old.
My 16 year old brother, 15 year old sister and I went on a road trip up the east coast. We walked through some of the Museums.
I can’t say I’ve ever been asked for money so many times in one day before. LOL

Perhaps someday I’ll get a chance to see these blossoms in person.

Serene´s last blog post..Cookie Monster

Eryn - April 7, 2009 - 9:29 am

Wow! Gorgeous! I can’t believe I’ve never made it up there to see them.

Eryn´s last blog post..

Robynn's Ravings - April 7, 2009 - 9:41 am

Really lovely photos!

Robynn’s Ravings´s last blog post..My "Bo"…..The Senior Photos….My Thoughts

Kate - April 7, 2009 - 9:56 am

Your photos are gorgeous! I’ve never seen the DC cherry blossoms in person (although I grew up in Baltimore, so it’s a shame I never made my way down for the big show). They do remind me of balmy spring days at college, though, as our campus in Connecticut was dotted with the pretty blooms.

Yay spring!

Kate´s last blog post..She Says… Belly Envy

Jill - April 7, 2009 - 10:25 am

GORGEOUS photos! I have never had the opportunity to see the cherry blossoms, but wish I could have done so…they’re beautiful! Maybe one day :)

Jill´s last blog post..Post-Marriage: Friendships with the Opposite Sex

Tabitha Blue - April 7, 2009 - 11:57 am

Wow, those are gorgeous. The view close up is amazing and what I love is how it’s just as beautiful from farther away. What a sight! Thanks for sharing it.

:)
~Tabitha~

freshmommyblog.com

Tabitha Blue´s last blog post..Mind over matter

Sandy - April 7, 2009 - 12:02 pm

Bellissimo!

Jenna @ Newlyweds - April 7, 2009 - 1:17 pm

How beautiful! Thanks for sharing.

Jenna @ Newlyweds´s last blog post..Angel Pie

Margie - April 7, 2009 - 2:18 pm

How beautiful. Haven’t seen them in person but your post was lovely.

erin - April 7, 2009 - 2:24 pm

Joanna, what is a Leaf Peeper?

Tabitha, your photos are beautiful. Just lovely.

erin´s last blog post..maybe not such a bad plant mommy after all

Courtney - April 7, 2009 - 2:55 pm

When I was in DC 2 years ago the blossoms had already fallen off the trees. It was actually the last weekend of the festival, I remember catching the tail end of it as a friend and I were leaving one of the Smithsonians. I have walked that trail along the basin to Jefferson Monument though. It is a beautiful walk.

Courtney´s last blog post..March Results

Sarah @ BecomingSarah.com - April 7, 2009 - 7:01 pm

I’ve never seen any cherry blossoms, period. At least, not to the best of my recollection. It’s all avocado and orange blossoms around here. Your pictures really make me want to go see them sometime, though!

Well, except for the crowded pictures. I don’t know if I like people enough for that one.

Sarah @ BecomingSarah.com´s last blog post..26 weeks: Growing a baby.  Please do not disturb.

Alzo - April 8, 2009 - 5:17 am

Cherry Blossom time is very special to me. Every year, I try to get down and see them. It means that spring is finally here and no more cold (not so true this year, though). Your photos are wonderful and remind me that I better hurry and get down there to check them out before they are gone. Thanks for sharing.

Madison - April 8, 2009 - 2:05 pm

My mom has a beautiful Yoshino cherry tree. Beautiful photos!

Madison´s last blog post..

Gennaro - April 8, 2009 - 2:28 pm

Great time to visit Washington D.C. The cherry blossoms really make the Jefferson Memorial stand out.

Gennaro´s last blog post..Authentic Local Eats: Readers Weigh In

admin - April 8, 2009 - 6:46 pm

wow, I’m amazed at how many people have actually seen the blossoms – good for you!! And for those who haven’t, maybe you’ll put it on your list for next year. :)

ellemck - January 13, 2010 - 10:06 am

Yeah, I’ve lived in the DC area my whole life, and been down to see the blossoms many times… although my favorite memory of the Cherry Blossom Festival was one day when I was just taking the metro into school and a tourist used a twenty to get a one day metro-card… all the quarters! But the blossoms are absolutely beautiful and so worth fighting the massive crowds at all hours. It’s one of my favorite things about living here. :)
.-= ellemck´s last blog ..The First Post =-.

Gwendolyn - January 15, 2012 - 10:35 am

We can look at any picture, but unless you actually look at it is so breath taking. Good post and will for sure bookmark your site. Thanks for the thought.
Gwendolyn´s last [type] ..Fall Colors

[...] From Single To Married placed an observative post today on Washington DC: Can You Say Cherry Blossoms?Here’s a quick excerptEvery year Washington DC has its annual Cherry Blossom Festival.  And during the weeks leading up to this event, swarms of people descend on our fair city just to get a look at the guest of honor, the Cherry Blossom: Now I’m not going to lie to you.  I like flowers and trees just as much as the next person.  But when I hear that close to a million people will be in one place at one time (with nary a bathroom in site) I tend to stay far, far away. So I’m not sure what possessed us this [...]

[...] From Single To Married put an intriguing blog post on Washington DC: Can You Say Cherry Blossoms?Here’s a quick excerptEvery year Washington DC has its annual Cherry Blossom Festival.  And during the weeks leading up to this event, swarms of people descend on our fair city just to get a look at the guest of honor, the Cherry Blossom: Now I’m not going to lie to you.  I like flowers and trees just as much as the next person.  But when I hear that close to a million people will be in one place at one time (with nary a bathroom in site) I tend to stay far, far away. So I’m not sure what possessed us this [...]

[...] Colors City added an interesting post on Washington DC: Can You Say Cherry Blossoms?Here’s a small excerptWhile it was dark, it was hard to see the vibrant pinks of the petals. But once the sun was in the sky, the flowers were bright and beautiful. [...]

udc web » Washington DC Cherry Blossoms - October 13, 2010 - 10:49 am

[...] 3.Washington DC: Can You Say Cherry Blossoms? | From Single To [...] From Single To Married placed an observative post today on Washington DC: Can You Say Cherry Blossoms?Here’s a quick excerptEvery year Washington DC has its annual Cherry Blossom Festival.  And during the weeks leading up to this event, swarms of people descend on our fair city just to get a look at the guest… http://www.fromsingletomarried.com/2009/04/07/washington-dc-can-you-say-cherry-blossoms/ [...]

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