Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Cherry Blossoms of Washington DC - more than just a spring time ritual!

It’s spring! The dainty Japanese Yoshino cherry blossoms that line the Tidal basin in East Potomac Park stand ready to bloom and paint the DC landscape a pretty pink. This is nature’s annual time limited (blooms last for less than 2 weeks) extravaganza and the blooming cherry blossoms are referred to as the nation’s biggest spring time celebration. This year peak bloom time is slated for the first week of April.

Do you like to travel? Then you should consider hitting the road or find some last minute deals to DC to watch nature put on a spectacular show! And if you can’t make it, you are in luck! I will take you around the Tidal Basin right here on Aalayam and share some impressive images of DC’s famed cherry blossoms that my husband managed to capture a few springs ago.

Let’s start with some historical background first-

In 1912, the people of Japan sent 3,020 cherry trees to the United States as a gift of friendship. First Lady Taft and the Viscountess Chinda, wife of the Japanese Ambassador, planted the first two cherry trees on the northern bank of the Tidal Basin. These two original trees are still standing today near the John Paul Jones statue at the south end of 17th Street. Workmen planted the remainder of the trees around the Tidal Basin and East Potomac Park” ~ source
If history is your thing, here is where you can find out more.
It is the 102 anniversary of the gifting of these trees and in an event punctuated by parades, kite festivals, orchestra, dancers and drummers, the Nation’s capital pays tribute to the ethereal beauty of the fabled cherry blossoms and welcomes tourists to its door steps.

Now, if you hate crowds, this may not be the event for you. The cherry blossoms reportedly draw an average 1.5 million (!) visitors in the 2 week period that the exquisite blooms change color from pink to white.  You will encounter throngs of crowds at the Basin! The key to getting good photographs is to get there early and I mean early or else you will find yourself high tailing it back to the National Mall or your car. 
Peak bloom is defined as 70% of trees in bloom.
We stayed with a dear friend (a DC resident) of ours on this trip and she planned and executed our cherry blossom experience to perfection! She had us up and out of the house before daybreak when it was still dark! Bundled up in our winter woolies and armed with to-go breakfast, we beat the crowds and arrived at the Tidal Basin with one intention only – to photograph the cherry blossoms in the monument rich landscape at sunrise before the crowds got thick.  And despite our lofty tourist ambitions, my husband managed to capture some signature shots of the sun bathed Washington monuments in the backdrop of blooming clusters of  the flushed cherry blossoms.

And after your sunrise walk around the Tidal Basin, you can trudge through and explore the rest of the National Mall in the later part of the day. 

As a  home and architecture enthusiast my trip would be incomplete without a stop by the country’s world’s most famous address – The White House and we finished our day with an (environmentally friendly) walking tour of the remaining monuments in and around the National Mall.

These intricate flowers are a potent symbol of an abiding friendship between two nations.

The festival itself features several artists and performers to honor the spirit of nature, culture and community. So, make sure to include a few of these trademark events in your itinerary and get a glimpse into international cultures as well.

If you are a travel enthusiast then the DC Cherry Blossoms must definitely feature in your bucket list! And remember to sit back, relax and enjoy your time under a canopy of trees– for after all, the transience and the exquisite beauty of the blooms make it a one of a kind experience!

You can find out all about the festival here

This was by no means a DC travelogue but just an Aalayam tribute to the Cherry Blossom Festival. However, if this is your first trip to DC, be rest assured that DC is doable in a weekend. Do not be challenged by everything that DC offers its tourists but take your time to plan your monument and museum itinerary ahead of time. We of course, had the luxury of being hosted by a gracious and an extremely hospitable friend who mapped our itinerary and sent us out of the door with packed lunches and train tickets each morning! Thank you RM! 
This post is dedicated to you!
RM's home - a glimpse!
Dear readers, hope you like this edition of our travel segment. Aalayam is a lifestyle blog not limited to any one category. It is our earnest desire to bring our elite readers life enriching inspirations via feature posts on art, culture, travel, cuisine, décor and more and we hope to engage our readers in the process. If you would like to contribute as a guest author to any of the aforementioned sections, please write to Supriya or me (Deepa) at aalayaminspiration@gmail.com

Stay tuned for more from our travel segment this year – The seductive charm of the Wild Wild West (Arizona!) and a Fall tour through the Finger Lakes of Upstate New York will be featured later in the year.

p.s: All images in this post were taken by my husband and may not be reproduced without permission


  1. A happy Spring post with my favorite flower of the season !!!! I've always made it a point to visit the Cherry Blossom festival every year .....I can't seem to get enough of these delicate flowers!!! And I loved the pictures (without the distracting crowd - your husband did a great job Deepa) !!!

    1. After being burned by winter for 5 months, I guess most of us are ready for spring! I am sure the flowers look different every year- must be a treat? Thanks to our diligent friend, we came back with some excellent shots. One of the pictures in this post was featured in a travel magazine - fond memories! Thanks Sruthi.

  2. Beautiful Deepa! Next time you are in DC, please let me know, will be happy to host you and your family. We are still waiting for spring with a bated breath, hopefully we get to see her soon :).

    1. Thanks for the invitation and thanks for reading!
      Please feel free to invite your friends and family to be a part of the growing Aalayam family. We love having new folks over and we have so many inspirations waiting to be shared!
      Hopefully spring and summer will be glorious! enjoy.