Are the Cherries Blooming? - Brooklyn Botanic Garden
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Are the Cherries Blooming?

Around this time of year, inevitably I’ll be out in the Japanese Hill-and-Pond Garden and someone will ask, “When will the cherry trees blossom?” and I’ll have to point out, “Well, you’re standing under a really beautiful flowering cherry tree right now.” That’s because most people, when they come to see BBG’s cherry blossoms, are only picturing the straight rows of deep pink, multiflowered ‘Kanzan’ cherries (Prunus ‘Kanzan’) on Cherry Esplanade. Understandably so—‘Kanzan’ has always been a favorite of visitors, not to mention a media darling. It’s a shame, though, that the cultivar’s extravagant beauty sometimes overshadows the rest of the collection.

The Japanese Hill-and-Pond Garden and Cherry Walk feature a wide variety of cherry cultivars with different forms and colors of flowers, all uniquely beautiful and all blossoming at different moments throughout April. For example, BBG has four Yoshino cherry trees (Prunus × yedoensis), the favorite cherry in Japan, where the delicate form of their single white flowers is highly valued. (Some Japanese cherry fans might even consider the bright, many-petaled ‘Kanzan’ flowers a bit gaudy.)

Yoshino cherries also display a lovely progression in color. Their dark pink buds open to white flowers, which then turn pink again. Look for them soon. The beautiful pink weeping higan cherries (P. subhirtella ‘Pendula’) along the pond are in bloom right now, as are ‘Fudan-zakura’ and ‘Okame’ (P. ‘Fudan-zakura’ and P. ‘Okame’). CherryWatch has the latest updates, locations, and descriptions of most of the cherry trees at the Garden.

So if you’re waiting until the day to see the cherries, don’t. Instead try to see as much of the season as you can. When you do, also try to appreciate how the blossoms and the trees themselves appear in different contexts—nestled into the landscape of the Hill-and-Pond Garden, up close in the cherry cultivars area along Cherry Walk, as part of a panorama from the Overlook. Then by all means come back in later this month or in early May, when Cherry Esplanade will likely be in all its glory. But if you wait until then to see your first cherry blossom of the year, you’ll have missed most of the show.

Brian Funk is a landscape designer and master ­gardener. He is also the curator of the Japanese Hill-and-Pond Garden and the Japanese Tree Peony Collection at Brooklyn Botanic Garden.

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Image, top of page: Sarah Schmidt