Each year, administrators at the Brooklyn Botanical Garden hope that peak blooming of the pink and white flowers coincides with the annual cherry blossom festival Sakura Matsuri. As the biggest event in an American public garden, it is planned years in advance even if subject to Mother Nature’s weather whims. This year it will be held on April 29 and 30, and it is expected to attract 70,000 visitors according the NY Times.
“You can’t stop them, once the plants think spring is here,” said Elizabeth Reina-Longoria, the garden’s communications director.
During this year’s first warm days, few of the cherry trees started to bloom, but were only halfway there when the winter storm hit in mid-March. Fortunately, the majority of the trees waited for spring.
“A few of the buds were tight enough, though, so they held out through the storm,” said Melanie Sifton, the vice president for horticulture at the garden. “What you want is a nice tepid spring,” Ms. Sifton described the ideal weather conditions. “If it gets too hot too fast, they’ll come out of peak and the blossoms will fall.”
Generally, the cherry blossom season, lasts for only about six weeks with each tree blooming for just about a week and a half. Yet, watching over the two dozen varieties of cherry trees is a yearlong project.
Curator of the Japanese garden and cherry tree specialist Brian Funk, who studied in Japan, has a special collection of Japanese gardening tools. He regularly tends the trees, pruning them in the traditional Japanese “cloud pruning style,” which gives them a rounded, yet natural look. Funk and his team of arborists also test the soil to ensure ideal conditions and build wooden buttresses to give support to the older trees in the collection.
Each year, a couple of dying trees are replaced with young trees. “We obsess over them all year long,” Ms. Sifton said.
Cherry blossom enthusiasts who cannot wait until the festival, can keep taps on the trees by visiting the Botanical Garden’s Cherry Watch map.
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