Peak bloom has arrived for the thousands of Japanese cherry blossom trees at the National Mall in Washington, and the area is awash in magnificent pink and white.
Predicting the timing of peak bloom — defined as when 70% of the blossoms have opened — has been getting harder. In the 1920s, the average peak bloom was April 5. That moved up to March 31 in recent years, and the 2023 peak arrived yet a week earlier, according to the National Park Service on Thursday.
The annual National Cherry Blossom Festival, which runs through April 16, celebrates Japan’s 1912 gift of 3,020 cherry trees to the city of Washington.
Two of those trees were planted by First Lady Helen Herron Taft and Viscountess Chinda, wife of the Japanese Ambassador to the United States, with just a few onlookers present. That small gathering became the origin of the festival, which officially launched 23 years later, in 1934.
The average lifespan of a Japanese cherry tree falls roughly between 30 and 40 years, depending on variety.
As for the National Cherry Blossom Festival, it spans five weekends and includes a roster of events throughout Washington and its suburbs, including a Japanese street festival, 5K and 10-mile runs, fireworks, food fairs and more.