National Cherry Blossom Festival 2018 | Peak Blooms & Petalpalooza in Washington DC


On the cold morning that had wind and rain as companion, a walk along the Tidal Basin took us to the beautiful sight of hanging petals of Cherry Trees kissing the water when we had expected the petals would blow away. But they stayed. We went last Saturday taking the Greyhound bus from New York and we were in awe of the Union Station first and then the Cherry Trees at Tidal Basin. The upcoming area of District Wharf provided to us much needed respite from all things monumental to something fun and glee. Fireworks concluded the day!

“These trees came back and forth , back and forth from Japan and once upon a time 2000 - 3000 trees where shipped here from the trees that were cut from the ones in Japan and so these are original. Around 80% of them are white Yoshino Cherry Trees here and rest are other variants. The white ones are already in peak bloom whereas the pink ones would bloom a week later. In 1912, they planted two trees and those two trees are still there.. In Japan they worship the trees and celebrate it with sake under the shade ; Here, we do our small little celebration at National Cherry Blossom Festival with events, parade and festivities,” said our docent from the Cherry Tour that happens at Tidal Basin, Washington DC during the National Cherry Blossom Festival.

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How Cherry Trees got in Washington DC

Long story short, it all started in 1885, when Eliza Ruhamah Scidmore went to Japan and fell in love with the Cherry trees. She came back and got in touch with US Army Superintendent of the Office of Public Building and Grounds and national park service with the idea of planting cherry trees along the reclaimed waterfront of the Potomac River. For about 24 years, nobody paid attention. In 1906, David Fairchild, a botanist imported 1000 cherry trees from the Yokohama Nursery Company in Japan and planted them on his own property in Chevy Chase, Maryland. The Fairchilds were pleased with the results of their planting and in 1907 began promoting Japanese flowering cherry trees as an ideal tree to plant around avenues in the Washington area. In 1908, Fairchild donated cherry saplings to every D.C. school to plant on its school grounds in observance of Arbor Day. At an Arbor Day speech that Eliza Scidmore attended, Fairchild proposed that the "Speedway" (a now non-existing route around the D.C. Tidal Basin) be turned into a "Field of Cherries. “In 1909, Scidmore decided to raise the money to buy cherry trees and donate them to the District. As a matter largely of form, on April 5 she wrote a letter to First Lady Helen Herron Taft, wife of newly elected president Howard Taft, informing her of her plans.

Two days later, the First Lady responded:

Thank you very much for your suggestion about the cherry trees. I have taken the matter up and am promised the trees, but I thought perhaps it would be best to make an avenue of them, extending down to the turn in the road, as the other part is still too rough to do any planting. Of course, they could not reflect in the water, but the effect would be very lovely of the long avenue. Let me know what you think about this.

What is Tidal Basin called Tidal Basin?

It is impossible to believe by just looking at the Whitehouse of today that Whitehouse was once next to the river and one of the president’s even used to go Skinny dipping in it. There’s short story to it. One of the journalist wanted to interview him and she was refused many times. So what she did was, she sat there on the banks when he was in the water and told him “I wouldn’t let you out if you don’t let me interview you!”

Now, I could have never imagined the occurrence of Potomac river next to the Whitehouse. So, what you see today is a landfill. The Potomac river stays partially landfilled today and why? Because the ships would come from Europe to the middle of the United states in Washington DC and in order to get the ships up here and keep the river moving, a significant amount of piled up dirt was removed from the river that led to the landfill. In order to keep the water flowing from the river, bridges were made with gates underneath. When the rides come in, it pulls one of the gate open and other closed. When the tides move out, it opens the other gate and water flows down and it closes the other one. The Tidal Basin is called Tidal Basin because it is Tidal due to the flow of the water in-out of the river.

There used to be a public beach where Jefferson Memorial stands today. There used to also be a diving platform. In those days, they used to check the length of Women’s swimsuit to see if it was long enough. This was a big attraction until Jefferson Memorial was built.

The Washington Monument honours the United States' first President George Washington. There is a clear demarcation in this structure where colours separate the construction eras. The earlier Washington Monument was built till the line that you’d see on the monument and was stopped. They searched for 10-20 years for the same stone, couldn’t find it and so resumed it with a different coloured stone.

Along the basin, one can take a peek onto the Washington Monument, Jefferson Memorial, and other monuments. I always liked how close planes fly by in this area, so view up and around! Photographers would be plenty because as they say, Cherry Blossoms as life is short lived and needs a celebration.

“No dear, Cherries don’t come from Cherry Blossoms. Take these Tulips instead and stick onto the wall”. Oh! We are distributing free groceries from Fresh Direct, would you want one? If yes, grab a basket? After posing at the Visit Japan stall and gorging on the Ben & Jerry ice-cream and watching people swing and singers sing at Petalpalooza, I was convinced each city looks best when it's celebrated.

Even if its Washington DC!

Petalpalooza@District Wharf ->

Columbus Circle@ WashingtonDC ->

Union Square Station, Washington DC ->

Spicy Jalapeno with Blueberry bagel @ Einstein Bros. Bagel at Union Sq 

District Wharf @ Washington DC


  1. This is really nice, thank you for this informative and creative content. I loved the thing that you have put so many pictures just to explain things better. I would definitely visit washington, all thanks to you.

  2. Wonderful Article. Good to know the story of cherry tree in US. Good pictures


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