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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. sargentii ‘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.

    Discussion

  • Mark April 12, 2020

    I have a very large, 45 year-old weeping cherry which flowers but never bears fruit. Why?

  • BBG Staff February 25, 2020

    Iria: There’s a chance! The later blooming cherries are sometimes in bloom in early May. It’s been a warm winter, but it’s really hard to predict this far in advance. Can You Predict When the Cherries Will Blossom goes into more detail on this. As your trip gets closer, you can also check CherryWatch to see how the blooms are progressing.


    Also, please keep in mind that whether or not the cherries are in bloom, early May is still peak season for flowers of all kinds at the Garden. Peonies, crapapples, azaleas, and lilacs are all likely bets. Hope to see you!

  • Iria February 12, 2020

    Hello BBG Team! I am traveling to NY in early May, do you think is there any chance to see the cherries blooming? I really hope so! Thank you very much! Kind regards, Iria

  • BBG Staff April 21, 2013

    Cherry Esplanade is still pre-bloom — but we are hoping for early blossoms for next week’s festival! Check bbg.org/cherries for up-to-date information.

  • Faith April 21, 2013

    Super excited for the Sakura Matsuri this year! Does anyone know if the cherries in the Cherry Esplanade are in bloom yet?

  • Michele Lombardi April 16, 2013

    It really sounds lovely! I’ll always remember BBG as one of my mom and dad’s favorite first dating places. My mom was 98 this past December, and I would love to take her to see the cherry trees. Mom also loves to watch all the families and their beautiful young children enjoying the gardens. Thanks to all of you who make this the most beautiful garden in the whole city.
    Sincerely, Michele

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