Accolade Cherry Blossoms at 5th and Nootka

The news comes at noon.

“You can leave, now. You’re gonna work from home.”

“For how long?”

“We don’t know.”

Like many people, I’m sent home as the Province of British Columbia closes the schools and other businesses in an effort to curb the spread of the COVID-19 (Coronavirus).

The skytrain is nearly empty with only six people, sitting far from each other. A few wears surgical masks.

I make a quick visit to the Accolade cherry trees on 5th and Nootka. A last attempt at cherry blossom viewing before the city declares a state of emergency.

Unfortunately I’m too early. There are lots of buds, but only a few blossoms. The Accolade are not “ready”.

accolade cherry branch in front of a building accolade cherry branch in front of a building accolade cherry branch in front of a building accolade cherry trees with Burnaby skyline

What about me? Was I “ready” for what would come next? The long period of isolation, the frustration at not being able to go outside, empty grocery store shelves, the closures of libraries and movie theatres, the cancellation or concerts and festivals, and any gathering of more than 50 people…

Accolade cherry trees

How can anyone ever be ready for this?

We don’t have to be ready. We just have to accept it.

When I look closely, I do find some blossoms, which makes me feel better.

accolade cherry trees with Burnaby skyline  Accolade cherry blossoms


Before heading back, I take one last photo.  My camera whirs and shows me five different colourful versions of the same photo.  I accidentally set my camera to “Creative Shot” mode. The last photo is surreal.

This is the new reality. It might not be what you expect, but it’s what you get. You have to accept it. And, you know what, it’s not that bad.  Different, but not that bad.  We can get through this.

Accolade cherry tree


A mix of Accolade and Akebono

On 5th avenue (corner Lilooet), you’ll find two different kinds of trees: Accolade and Akebono cherry trees (notice the different colours on the photo).


It’s a good location to appreciate the difference between the two cherry trees:

  • Akebono cherry trees are lighter and blossoms have five petals.
  • Accolade cherry trees are darker and blossoms have more than five petals.

When I visited, the Accolade were declining and the Akebono were peaking.

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From the top of the hill, you get an amazing view of the highrises in Burnaby Brentwood area.

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Visit soon to be showered with petals or use our neighbourhood map to find Akebono trees near you.


Akebono skyline at 5th and Lillooet

Don’t hesitate to go cherry blossom viewing, even on a cloudy day, because if there’s one thing I’ve learned is that cherry blossoms won’t wait. When it’s time for the petals to fall, you want to be there. Rain or shine, it will still be spectacular.

There are two rows of akebono cherry trees at 5th avenue and Lillooet. A bonus feature is that you get the highrises of Burnaby’s Brentwood area in the background.

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This location is very close to 6th and Slocan where you’ll find akebono forming an archway over the street, so you should visit both.

Visit the Festival Neighbourhood maps to see what’s blooming in your area.

Happy cherry blossom viewing!



Spectacular rows of Akebono on Graveley street

On a sunny Thursday morning, around 11 a.m., I reached Graveley street (corner of Lillooet) to view cherry blossoms.  The location is spectacular with two rows of old Akebono cherry trees forming an arch over the street.

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The area was bustling with activities: there were about 50 people taking pictures. And more cars kept arriving.

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The view from the bottom of the street is also very nice.

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From the sidewalk,  you can snap photos of the Burnaby skyline and SFU hill.

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The street is spectacular and immediately became one of my favorite locations. The blossoms were in full bloom when I visited. This location will be wonderful when petals start to fall in a couple of days.


Visit this location within 7 days. Prepare to share the space with many photographers. When you’re there, remember the neighbours:

1) do not climb the trees
2) do not break the branches
3) be respectful of the residents who live on the street
4) do not stop in the middle of the street
5) keep your visit to a max of 15mins (cause really, how long does it take to snap a few photos?)
6) stay on city property, do not go on private property
7) try to stay off the grass, especially if you are wearing heels.
Mostly – be respectful to the environment and the residents. Remember that it is the residents who are responsible for caring for those trees.

To find out more about this location and where you can find Akebono cherry trees, see the VCBF neighbourhood map.