Many cherry blossom festivals have selected a special tree to serve as an “index tree” (Tokyo) or “indicator tree” (Washington D.C.) When over 70% of its flowers are in bloom, they declare that cherry trees are officially in bloom in the city.
The Vancouver Cherry Blossom Festival does not have an official indicator tree so, for the purpose of the First International Cherry Blossom Prediction Competition, the Akebono trees in Maple Grove Park, at the corner of SW Marine Drive and Yew Street, were designated as the Vancouver location. In a way, these trees will serve as our first indicator trees.
Douglas Justice is monitoring the trees and will declare their official blooming date. Stay tuned for the big reveal.
Point Grey resident Lesley Donaldson is usually displaying haiku on her hedge during cherry blossom season, but this year is different. She writes:
“I can’t assemble my Haiku Hedge this year because of social distancing and no gathering rules. So instead I am organizing a digital Haiku Hedge.”
Since March 25, Lesley sends to her family and friends a daily e-mail featuring a photo of her cherry trees and a haiku written by herself or by haiku masters. Here are some photos and haiku shared by Lesley.
Listen! Hear the voices
six feet apart –
between the blossomed trees
In these latter-day
Kobayashi Issa (1763 – 1828)
Pale mountain sky:
cherry petals play
as they tumble earthward
Kusama Tokihiko (1920 – 2003)
The light of a candle
Is transferred to another candle—
Yosa Buson (1716 – 1784)
Lesley, whose hedge has been featured in the Georgia Straight, wrote about her beautiful Akebono cherry trees:
“I have four huge cherry trees planted over 30 years ago along the west side of my house. I live on a corner lot and I remember when I planted them my mother saying “people going places will say, ‘turn at the corner where the cherry trees are’”. I liked that idea.”
She might have been wrong though – I think people mainly notice my deep green yew hedge, 6 feet high that encloses my property. It is clipped and maybe 200 ft long (…) and in the spring, when the pink blossoms fall from the cherry trees, it reminds me of sprinkles.”
At a time when the global order is in chaos (…) I find comfort in looking out of my windows at the giant cherry tree trunks “
Lesley has been participating in the VCBF Haiku Invitational for many years, winning an honourable mention in 2008:
VCBF Neighbourhood Map: zoom in Queen Elizabeth Park on West 33rd and Cambie to discover all the cherry trees in the park (or click the Search tab, then type Queen Elizabeth)
If you live in the area and will visit in person, please respect physical distancing. Cherry scout Lisa L. wrote on the UBC Botanical Garden forum:
“Please beware that this year due to social distancing there is NO vehicular access to QE park from any of the entrances. All are barricaded. You must walk in and up to admire this tree, and please not a lot of people or the park rangers may shut it down. The rangers are patrolling and ensuring that all of us walkers are keeping our distance and not congregating. So please follow the directives and visit discreetly and quietly. NO PICNICS. we will have to wait till next year for that.”
Cherry blossom season has officially started in Vancouver. Akebono are now in full bloom, along with Pandora, Beni-shidare, Afterglow, and much more.
We understand it could be tempting to go to your favourite cherry blossom viewing spot. However, because of COVID-19 and the need to respect physical distancing and avoid gathering, it would be wise to consider, instead, enjoying a walk under cherry trees in your own neighbourhood.
With 40,000 cherry trees in the city, there’s plenty to see.
Here’s what I saw during a neighbourhood walk in Burnaby.
Akebono cherry trees at Cliff (corner Curtis):
A small Beni-shidare that hasn’t been added to the VCBF map yet.
Afterglow cherry trees at Cliff and Curtis. The bright pink flowers are magnificent!
There are 40,000 cherry trees planted in residential streets. We’re so lucky to have access to these trees.
Our beautiful Akebono cherry trees are blooming at Burrard Skytrain station.
Since the Vancouver City issued an order to respect physical distancing due to COVID-19 (Coronavirus), we thought we’d offer you a safe way to do cherry blossom viewing. . . online.
Click on this interactive map for a virtual visit of Akebono cherry trees outside Burrard Skytrain station.
Burrard skytrain station is a truly special location for cherry blossom viewing in Vancouver. There are thirty-four Akebono cherry trees outside the station: one tree at the front, then three rows of trees. Walking under the canopy is a true pleasure.
The Vancouver Cherry Blossom Festival usually holds its festival launch — the popular Cherry Jam concert — at this location, but unfortunately we had to cancel this year because of Covid-19.
If you go cherry blossom viewing, please be safe and maintain physical distancing.