A few weeks ago I wrote about the Cherry Blossom Festival in Washington DC expressing my hope that I would get to experience the Peak Bloom again. Well, I am in Baltimore for the week and guess what? It is Peak Bloom. YEAH!
I arrived a week ago and we checked the National Cherry Blossom site for “Peak Bloom” to make sure if it was happening, while we were here. Oh Joy! Oh Rapture! Last Friday, April 6 began the Peak Bloom Period which extends through this week and blessings of all blessings, we were planning to take the train into DC last Friday to walk the mall, fly a kite and check out the blooms.
A leisurely stroll down the National Mall gives a true perspective of the visitor friendly lay-out of Washington DC, a real understanding of the impressively vast walk-able area surrounding the mall and a general idea of how many museums are in the Smithsonian collection. We started our day with a ride on the carousel just outside the Smithsonian castle. This amazing carousel runs all year, delighting children of all ages from 3 to 93. Everyone that rides must pay for the ride but at $3 it is a true bargain. And who doesn’t love a turn on a carousel? My grandsons and I had a 5 minute ride watching the world go round appreciating the vastness of the mall and wishing the cherry trees were planted along the mall to add some much needed color in the spring. After a wonderful ride, we wandered through the Smithsonian gardens behind the castle building. These gardens are just now coming into bloom and what a beautiful sight. The layout, quite Victorian in style beckons you to saunter through the parterre-type paths and flower beds.
Beautiful decorative cast iron garden ornamentation in the form of the fantastically large gates to the street, a bench for sitting, lawn edging and garden urns adorn this vintage garden and for just a few moments, we believed we were back in the 1800’s enjoying an afternoon stroll through the most beautiful of all gardens.
But, this was just a precursor to the main event. The cherry blossoms. So, on to the tidal basin in front of the Jefferson Memorial. As we closed in on the tidal basin, the pinkness became much more visible. The palest of pinks peeking out from between buildings. It was magnificent! The blossoms were so fluffy; if that can be said about flower blossoms. The palest of pink and almost heavenly white colors almost makes the blooms seem to float around the tree’s stems and branches and gives the landscape an otherworldly appearance; a softened look like marshmallows, fluffy frosting, or down pillows.
The day was overcast but we persevered. The national weather service forecast said we should see a sunny day with temperatures in the mid 60’s to mid 70’s. They lied. Now I know the weather forecasters cannot be on their game all the time but, come on guys? We were looking for a wonderfully sunny day with mild temperatures and a slight breeze. What we got was a chilly day with cloudy skies and rather blustery.
We took an early train into DC so we could avoid the larger crowds expected for Friday afternoon and that was a good plan. We did avoid most of the weekenders and were able to walk easily through light crowds to get to the tidal basin and back to Union Station in time for our mid-afternoon train home. Thousands of people come into the city for this festival especially on the weekends. We were trying to get in and out before the weekend crowds started arriving. (I do have a pretty severe crowd phobia.)
The tidal basin is the place to see the best views of these magnificent trees and the Jefferson Memorial in the background gives the trees something fabulous to frame. Families, couples, school groups, and people of all ages come to see the trees, experience the beauty and appreciate a gift over 100 years old. Should you ever plan a trip to Washington DC, take my advice and plan a spring trip to see the Cherry Blossoms…..so worth the trip!
To read about the gift of the trees from the Japanese people to the American people go to the National Park Service website. Or for the latest information about the blooms and the festival, go to the Cherry Blossom Festival website.
For an even more enjoyable spring visit, be sure to bring a kite. There is a wonderfully flat, open ball field just behind the Jefferson Memorial – perfect for flying a kite.