Newspaper article Evening Chronicle (Newcastle, England)

Blooming Marvellous; LINDSAY SUTTON Ventures to DC on the Cherry Blossom Chase

Newspaper article Evening Chronicle (Newcastle, England)

Blooming Marvellous; LINDSAY SUTTON Ventures to DC on the Cherry Blossom Chase

Article excerpt


OU can never take Mother Nature for granted - and that's the beauty of it.

YA tough winter or about of cold weather at this time of year can mean a late blossoming of typical spring blooms in your garden or local park. It's disappointing, but not disastrous.

But when you've travelled more than 3,500 miles across the Atlantic to Washington DC, it's pretty devastating to miss out on the pink profusion of the capital city's National Cherry Blossom Festival.

What should have been a swathe of pink around DC's Tidal Basin is simply a tree-lined walkway of buds, some about to pop, but most waiting for warmer weather.

With heavy snow and a cold snap in March - a 'Beast from the Nor' East,' in their case - it's little wonder that the buds are reluctant to put on a show.

When my wife and I were there last week, just a couple of cherry trees were anywhere near a state of readiness for the 'Big Bloom'. That show is now predicted to happen this weekend onwards, with peak bloom time between April 8 and 12. All in the hands of Mother Nature.

When it happens, it brings excitement and delight to DC residents, tourists from the rest of America and the 'international brigade', who flock to see the amazing 'Ring Of Pink' spectacular. The linked-up canopy forms a complete circle above the walkway round the famous Tidal Basin, just off the Potomac River in the heart of DC.

Over the key period, more than 1.5 million visitors stroll round the basin, with founding father Thomas Jefferson keeping an eye on things from the vantage point of his nearby marble mausoleum.

The Cherry Blossom Festival began back in 1912 when the Japanese gave a gift of 3,000 trees, thanks to the enthusiasm of writer Eliza Scidmore and Helen Taft, wife of President William Howard Taft. They dreamed of creating a blossom arbor for the capital city, and chose the rough and swampy Tidal Basin, transforming it into the wonderful walkway it is today. The festival was formalised in 1927, and 91 years on it's still going strong, culminating in a parade next Saturday (April 14), and a river festival on the Sunday.

Apart from the cherry spectacle, everything you could wish to see as a tourist is in close proximity to the Tidal Basin. The famous Washington Monument, the Mall, with its hugely impressive Abraham Lincoln Memorial at one end, Capital Hill and Congress at the other. On each side are the war memorials - World War Two, Korea, Vietnam - and the wonders of the Smithsonian Museums. All free to the visitor, as they should be.

Across the Potomac River is another 'jewel' - the county of Arlington, which has a number of other attractions, including the famous Arlington National Cemetery, the iconic Iwo Jima statue, with American Marines hoisting the flag, in memory of their heroic action in the Pacific in World War Two. …

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