It’s an iconic scene in Washington DC — blossoming cherry trees surrounding the Tidal Basin and national monuments. But with these great beauties come crowds, long lines and traffic. Did you know you can experience the glory of the cherry blossoms right here in Montgomery County?
You can view over 300 cherry blossom trees in Montgomery County Parks and get a jumpstart on spring festivities.
“Cherry trees are blooming when not a lot of other plants are,” said Phil Normandy, plant collections manager at Brookside Gardens.
Although it changes yearly based on weather, cherry trees often blossom at the end of March with large bursts of pink. The flowers typically last for about two weeks. The annual festival in DC commemorates the 1912 gift of 3,000 cherry trees from Tokyo’s mayor. After more than 100 years, the trees are a regional icon.
In Japanese culture, the trees represent the beauty and fragility of life. With their pops of bright color for such short periods of time, they are reminders of how life can be both overwhelmingly beautiful and tragically fleeting.
Although native to Japan, the cherry blossom trees do well in Montgomery County’s dynamic climate. They need cold temperatures to help propagate the buds, said Phil.
“Cherry trees are tough; they’re easy to grow,” Phil said. “The flower buds are formed in the fall. They need to go through a cold period and need chilling hours.”
Drastic fluctuations in temperatures or a winter that wasn’t cold enough can affect the when the blossoms bloom. But, added Phil, the trees have rarely been damaged by shockingly cold temperatures.
Trees can be viewed in more than 25 Montgomery County Parks, and there are a wide variety of trees with white or pink blossoms, and some with long, draping branches.
Brookside Gardens has 26 cherry trees. There are two species in their collection, Yoshino and weeping cherry, that are the most impressive, said Phil. With three of each, these six trees are large and provide big bursts of color. They’re located in the Gude Garden. Like clockwork, the cherry trees at Brookside Gardens peak on or around April 1.
“I want people to see the diversity of cherries,” said Phil. “There are more than just the Tidal Basin cherries.”
(Story and Images Courtesy of Montgomery Parks)