Washington DC Cherry Blossom Festival
Many people know that the hundreds of ornamental cherry trees that surround the tidal basin in DC were donated by Japan as a gesture of friendship between the two nations but did you think, like I did, that they were donated after World War II as a kind of mea culpa for bombing Pearl Harbor in 1941? Well we were both wrong then. They were actually donated in 1912 and the original idea to plant cherry trees came from an American woman named Eliza Scidmore. She had been trying to convince the city to plant the beautiful flowering trees around the grand avenues of DC since 1885. She was the first female member of the National Geographic Society and had made many trips to Japan where the flowering trees are everywhere. She managed over the years to finally get some trees donated to the city and in 1909 she wrote a letter to First Lady Helen Taft informing her of her plans and that's when things finally started happening. Mrs. Taft loved the idea so much she got more people involved and more trees were donated. In the past several decades many more trees have been donated and some have been propagated from cuttings off of the original 1912 trees but some of the cherries that you'll see are over 100 years old.