Current 2022 Peak Bloom Prediction

In Philadelphia, Shofuso’s Head Gardener is calling for peak bloom in early April.

“With a wave of bright warmer weather slated for the coming days, we can expect the city’s blossoms to move along rather quickly, with peak bloom in Philadelphia rolling across the region in the first two weeks of April, and averaging around the 8th in West Fairmount Park for the beginning of the cherry blossom festival” said Sandi Polyakov.

“We’ve got a lot of great varieties dispersed across the city, and each one has its own timeline and personality. Expect the city to be in ‘peak bloom’ around April 1st, with the large collections of cherry blossoms along the Schuylkill River and West Fairmount Park reaching peak around the Shofuso Cherry Blossom Festival weekend (April 8-10). Denser urban areas typically bloom on the earlier side, with cooler outskirts and suburbs following up to a week behind- so keep an eye out and plan your picnic destinations accordingly. With the first two weeks of April offering an array of blooms, you’ll have plenty of opportunities to take them all in!”

Cherry Blossom Viewing Map

Cherry blossoms have deep significance in Japanese culture and are a traditional motif in art, literature and cuisine. The ephemeral blossoms only last for about two weeks before fluttering to the ground, recalling the vibrancy and impermanence of life.  The cherry is a symbolic national flower in Japan and is sometimes offered to other nations as a symbol of friendship. In 2021, Japanese artist Hiro Sakaguchi hand-painted a new map of Philadelphia Cherry Blossom Ohanami – helping visitors find Cherry Blossoms throughout Fairmount Park as well as other spots around the City of Philadelphia.

Sakaguchi was born in Nagano, Japan and moved to the United States in the 1990s to study art at the University of the Arts (BFA) and PAFA (MFA). Sakaguchi has had over 35 solo and group exhibitions, having shown at various venues locally and internationally, and is also a curator. He is an instructor at the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts.  Download the map here

Where are Philly’s Trees?

Horticultural Center
trees from JASGP plantings and the original 1926 plantings

Memorial Hall
on Lansdown Drive, behind Memorial Hall

Belmont Plateau
along Belmont Mansion Drive overlooking the city

West River/Martin Luther King Jr. Drive
from south of Montgomery Drive north to Falls Bridge

Kelly Drive
north of Boathouse Row along the river

Art Museum/Waterworks
between the museum and the waterworks

Cherry Trees For International Friendship

It was in this spirit that the Japanese Government gave 1,600 flowering trees including cherry trees to Philadelphia in 1926 in honor of the 150th anniversary of American Independence.  In 1998, The Japan America Society of Greater Philadelphia continued this legacy and began a ten-year, 1,000 tree planting campaign, which was completed in 2007.  The Shofuso Cherry Blossom Festival of Philadelphia celebrates the goodwill between Philadelphia and Japan as embodied by the cherry trees.

The Japanese Government and the Japan Cherry Blossom Association have made gifts of cherry trees all around the world.  Besides Philadelphia’s Festival, there are Cherry Blossom Festivals across the United States, including Washington DC, San Francisco, and Macon, Georgia just to name a few. In 1952 cuttings from the original gift trees from Japan were donated to Japan by the United States to help augment cherry trees along the Arakawa River whose care had been neglected during the war.

The Cherry Tree Itself

While the majority of cherry blossom trees (sakura) are one of two common varieties, there are actually over 100 ornamental cherry tree species, each with different characteristics of hardiness, form, size, habit, blossom color and blooming periods. Blossom colors can be deep pink to white with any number of single or double petals ranging in size from 3/4 inch to 1 1/2 inches. Cherry bark and branches are also admired for their glossy beauty during the winter. Some species add to fall’s foliage display with a spectacular show of leaf color, and at least one species even blossoms in the autumn. Due to the large north-south geographic stretch of Japan, cherry blossoms bloom between January and late May, earlier in the south than in the north. The variable spring weather in Japan and the national interest in the delicate blossoms has led to the inclusion of sakura-zensen, or the cherry blossom blooming line, into news weather forecasts. These forecasts help with the planning of o-hanami, or flower viewing, a popular and centuries-old spring tradition that includes picnicking, singing and perhaps sipping sake under cherry trees in full bloom.

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