Flower of the Day – The Earliest Cherry Blossoms

I have posted about my little Stella cherry tree in previous posts, now going on its 8th year in my backyard (probably 10 years-old, including time in the nursery).   It started as a struggling sapling, and has survived dry summers, hungry birds, and fruit fly and Japanese beetle infestations; these are some photos throughout the years:

My cherry tree, struggling on its first year (July 2013)
My cherry tree, beginning of blooming season (April 19, 2016)
My cherry tree, peak blooming day (May 5, 2018)
My cherry tree, peak blooming day (April 14, 2021)

Notice the difference in peak blooming dates between 2018 and this year.  It is a big difference, of almost two weeks.  Amongst many news outlets, CTV News Canada has reported that, according to records of Japanese cherry (Sakura) blossom peak-dates since the year 812 for the city of Kyoto,  while the dates stayed around early to mid-April for centuries, there has been a consistent shift to earlier dates for the last 200 years, with the record breaking date of March 26 as the earliest, for 2021.   The data, published by Yasuyuki AONO, on the website of the  Department of Ecological Meteorology/Department of Green Space And Environmental Sciences, of the Osaka Prefectural University,  is laden with interesting information, from some of the sources being royal diaries and accounts of blossom-sighting parties, to the correlation with meteorological factors, particularly temperatures.  CTVNews also mentioned an early peak in Washington, D.C. this year, observed on March 31, in contrast to their average date of April 5.  This is some worrisome information to digest, because plant and animal cycles, including cherry-blossom timing, are very sensitive to changes in temperature, indicating the likely effects of global warming and urbanization.

And now, a related heart-warming story (pun intended):  My daughter had been working in Japan for one year, and was due to return to Canada on the second week of March, 2021 but, because of the pandemic, many flights were cancelled; Canada had imposed a mandatory hotel quarantine upon return, as well, so she had to stay in Japan until the end of the month, when she finished arrangements for all the extra requirements, and found a flight (any flight!) to Canada.  She ended up landing in Vancouver, British Columbia, and capitulated to the required pre-boarding Covid test, arrival-airport Covid test, and 3-day hotel quarantine, then taking two more planes to make it from BC to Ontario.  An unexpectedly positive outcome was that she had a chance to see the Sakura blooming at their peak, the earliest date ever recorded occurring just as circumstances had forced her into an extended time in Japan: 

Sakura tree in Shizuoka Prefecture (photo by my daughter, March 2021)
Sakura tree in Kyoto (photo from my daughter, March 2021)
Sakura trees in Tokyo (photo from my daughter, March 2021)

Upon arrival at home, my daughter had to take a third Covid test, and isolate from us for another 11 days.  It was hard, but gave her time to recover from jetlag and the stress from the possibility of having/spreading/contracting COVID19 (none of the tests came back positive).  Another unexpected outcome was that at the end of her quarantine, long awaited hugs coincided with my little cherry tree’s blooming peak (motherly teary eye here.)  Ironically enough, it seems as if global warming and pandemic circumstances confabulated to grant my daughter a full-bloom Japanese Sakura farewell, and a full-bloom Canadian Stella welcome!

Canadian Stella cherry tree blossoms (this and the photo at the top of the post from my garden, April 2021)

I am joining Cee’s Flower of the Day Challenge for April 17, 2021.

14 thoughts on “Flower of the Day – The Earliest Cherry Blossoms

  1. Very cool for your daughter to see the cherry trees blooming in Japan. They are beautiful, I know, from when we lived there. Your little cherry tree looks to be doing wonderfully, too. 🙂

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  2. Just a few starters on mine. Yesterday when they first showed up it was during the snow, and I wasn’t sure if I was delusional. Thanks for the inspiring photos from Japan.

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    1. Those up-and-downs are so scary; we are expecting a couple of nights of below freezing temperatures, so my little cherry tree is going to be very confused.

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  3. I love this. It’s interesting to see the tree’s growth, and very sweet that your daughter got to enjoy two cherry blossom periods. These little moments of joy have been especially important in the last year

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    1. Thank you, Chef Mimi! Yes, I think we have eaten about a dozen cherries in all these years; it’s between the fruit fly caterpillars and the birds, and ultimately, the birds eat caterpillar-stuffed cherri es, what a delicacy! We all get to enjoy the blooms, though, hehe.

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