Washington, D.C.’s Cherry Blossoms

Cherry Blossom, Washington, DC, 2013, Jefferson Memorial in the background

It’s the time of the year when people have something special in mind when they visit Washington, D.C.: the cherry blossoms. In 1912, the Mayor of Tokyo gave the US about 3,000 cherry trees – after the first batch of about 2,000 trees from Japan turned out to be infested with insects.

The trees were planted around the Tidal Basin and are blooming every spring.

It was writer and National Geographic legacy Eliza Scidmore who originally had the idea of planing the cherry trees in the new park that was built at the end of the 19th century, to the West and the South of the Washington Monument.

She couldn’t quite convince the men in charge to add the cherry trees – but then, two decades later, she pitched her idea to Helen “Nellie” Taft, wife of then-president Howard Taft. And together, they laid the groundwork to what is today a most stunning display of beauty every spring.

Cherry Blossom, Washington, DC, 2013, Washington Monument in the background

It took me a couple of years when I was living in the area, to actually visit the trees in full bloom. They present their beauty only for a short period of time, and, of course, everybody wants to see them. So expect there to be crowds. To avoid too many people blocking you view, go in the early morning hours, right after sunrise. You still won’t be the only one, but at least you might find a parking spot at Haines Point and can walk along the Potomac and marvel at the trees.

Here is a map where to find the cherry trees, and here is the prediction of when the cherry blossoms will be at their peak. Apperently, this year the prediction is April 1-5 or 3-6, depending on whom you trust. But you might just want to go a fews days before that, during the week, to avoid the really big crowds. Or, you don’t mind the masses and visit the National Cherry Blossom Festival.

Either way, enjoy!


German American Heritage Museum in Washington, DC, Foto: Christina Bergmann

Have you ever been to the German American Heritage Museum (GAHM) in downtown DC, close to Chinatown? It’s worth a visit, and it’s free. These days, the museum is hosting an exhibition about “idealistic 19th-century immigrants who wanted to create the 25th U.S. state” – German immigrants, that is. They came from Giessen, close to Frankfurt, to Missouri. Here is the Washington Post story about the GAHM exhibit with the name “Utopia: Revisiting a German State in America“.

And while you’re at it, check out this WP article about “How to view art” by Philip Kennicott. Worth reading – and doing.