Underneath the cherry tree

Break open a cherry tree and there are no flowers, but the spring breeze brings forth myriad blossoms. (Ikkyu Sojun)

The celebration of the cherry tree  in Washington dates as far back as 1905, when the author and Japanophile Eliza Ruhamah Scidmore proposed planting trees on the reclaimed waterfront of the Potomac River (now known as the “Tidal Basin”).  Her vision was realised in 1912, and by 1935 the first Cherry Blossom Festival was held in the American Capital.  Most of the photos here were taken on Friday 25 March, the day before the official opening of the season.  It was a cold day (with the promise of snow on the weekend), and I was eager to avoid the crowds.  I have tried to capture the extraordinary beauty and enigmatic shapes of each branch and flower as much as possible.  First impressions of the hype surrounding the festival (and the crowds) should not put you off going.  The landscape architects and gardeners, and those who conceived of the project and brought it to fruition should be congratulated for creating one of the most beautiful and striking thematic plantings I have ever observed. (The photos at the end of this collection are of cherry trees blossoming in Dupont Circle)

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