Cherry trees bloom with the U.S. Capitol in the background, December 27, 2015. (Kevin Ambrose)

“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.

A bee hovers over a cherry blossom on the National Mall, December 27, 2015. (Kevin Ambrose)

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.

Scenes of spring in late December in Washington, D.C. Visitors on the National Mall photograph the cherry trees that are blooming in winter, December 27, 2015. (Kevin Ambrose)

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…


Why are the cherry blossoms blooming on the Mall

The ‘autumn-blooming’ cherry blossoms are still going strong on the National Mall

Bah humbug weather!

A bee collects nectar on the National Mall, December 27, 2015. (Kevin Ambrose)

Saba Ashram photographs a close up of a cherry blossom, December 27, 2015. (Kevin Ambrose)

Cherry blossoms with the Jefferson Memorial in a blurred background, December 27, 2015. (Kevin Ambrose)

There were other flowering plants on the Mall in addition to the cherry trees, December 27, 2015. (Kevin Ambrose)

The Washington Monument on a beautiful Sunday afternoon, December 27, 2015. (Kevin Ambrose)

A cherry tree blooms on the Mall, December 27, 2015. (Kevin Ambrose)

Here’s a parting shot of the National Christmas Tree on the Ellipse, December 27, 2015.  It’s rare to photograph cherry blossoms, bees, and the National Christmas Tree on the same photography trip but it happened this year. (Kevin Ambrose)