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Cherry Trees Appear In No Blooming Hurry

This year's cherry blossoms, like those of other trees and plants in the area, might arrive late, experts say.
This year's cherry blossoms, like those of other trees and plants in the area, might arrive late, experts say. (By Bill O'leary -- The Washington Post)
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Washington Post Staff Writer
Wednesday, March 4, 2009; Page B03

Despite the cold, and the wind and the snow, certain thoughts turned to spring yesterday as the National Park Service announced that Washington's beloved cherry blossoms should peak April 3 through 9.

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During the annual blossom preview news conference, this year at the Newseum, Park Service horticulturalist Rob DeFeo said the bloom, for the cherry trees and everything else, is running a little late.

The elm trees are flowering late. So are the red maples. And the daffodils and crocuses are up but are two weeks from flowering, he said.

"The early signs of spring that you normally see around just aren't out there," DeFeo said. "It tells me that everything is running a little behind."

DeFeo noted that the cherry blossom bloom period can start many days before peak and last up to 14 days. Peak bloom occurs when 70 percent of the white and pink flowers are out.

In 1912, Tokyo Mayor Yukio Ozaki gave Washington its first batch of 3,000 cherry trees.

The National Cherry Blossom Festival begins March 28, with a family day celebrating Japanese culture at the National Building Museum, and runs through April 12. The annual parade and Japanese street festival are scheduled for April 4.

The festival brings about a million visitors each year to see the blossoming cherry trees, most of which are around the Tidal Basin and in East Potomac Park. It also brings in about $184 million for area business.

Festival details are at http://nationalcherryblossomfestival.org.

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