“Those poor, sad trees,” a D.C. tourist exclaimed after she had finished posing for a family photo with a blooming cherry tree near the Washington Monument. “They’re confused,” she continued.

It was Sunday afternoon and the temperature was 70 degrees with a light breeze.  Dozens of cherry trees were blooming on the Mall and their blossoms were filled with bees.  Tourists and residents of Washington, D.C. were out in large numbers enjoying the beautiful weather and photographing the spring-like scenes with pink and white blossom backdrops.

But are these trees truly out-of-sync with the seasons?  The cherry trees on the Mall with blossoms are of the autumn-blooming variety called Higan cherry.  The Higan cherry trees have a big bloom in the spring but they also produce blossoms off-and-on during periods of warm autumn weather.  The Higan’s have been blooming on the Mall since at least November 19.  Our warm fall and early winter has extended their bloom into late December.

As for the bees, the exceptionally warm weather activated the over-wintering insect to emerge to find flowering plants which were numerous on the Mall.  Thousands of bees buzzed among the blooming cherry trees and the scattered, flowering bushes Sunday afternoon.  They’ll return to their over-wintering locations when the weather cools, which will happen this week.

Several weeks ago, I joked with friends that if the warm weather continued, I would photograph cherry blossoms at the same time as photographing the National Christmas Tree.  It turned out not be as much of a joke as I thought.  I ended my blossom photo shoot on Sunday by taking several photos of the National Christmas tree with the White House.  It was a beautiful holiday scene which was made more comfortable by the spring-like conditions.

Maybe we’ll have snow next Christmas.  Snow lovers can dream…