After some unexpected winter weather last month, it was feared Toronto’s collection of cherry blossom trees would not experience their annual blooming. With April snow-showers becoming May radiance, it’s predicted the cherry blossoms will reach full bloom by mid-May. This welcome development ensures thousands of people will head into High Park and other locales to experience the fluffy ethereal beauty of the blossoms first-hand. Here are some facts about Toronto’s cherry blossom season.
The cherry blossoms were a gift to the city from Tokyo, Japan
The trees, or sakuras, were gifted to Toronto by the Japanese government in 1959 as a gesture of goodwill for accepting refugees from the country after the Second World War. Those initial trees were planted in High Park, the largest grove overlooking Grenadier Pond. This is the most popular spot for seeing cherry blossoms in the city.
High Park is not the only place cherry blossoms are found
Hundreds of people will flock to High Park to see the cherry blossoms, but the trees are also located in Exhibition Place, Trinity-Bellwoods Park, Centennial Park in Etobicoke and both the University of Toronto’s downtown and Scarborough campuses. A lesser known collection of cherry blossoms can be found on the Toronto Islands.
Cherry blossoms are extremely ‘temperamental’
It takes ideal weather conditions to coax the cherry blossoms from their winter slumber; in some cases not even appearing at all (as was the case in 2016), and proceeding straight to leafing. Typically, peak blooming, when 70 per cent of the cherry blossoms are open, starts in late April and ends in early May.
There are six distinct stages of blooming
According to High Park Nature Centre, predictions can be made for the peak bloom by tracking the growth of tree buds. In the first stage, the buds can be spotted on tree branches, with florets beginning to appear approximately two weeks before the blossoms, increasing in size. About 10 days before peak bloom, you’ll start to see flower stems or peduncles, and the first blossoms of the season. The blossoms will begin to fully emerge just a few days before the peak bloom.
Peak bloom will only last for a few days
For 2018, Sakura Steve predicts the blossoms will reach their peak bloom from May 9 to 12, so there’s a very tight window to capture the blossoms in their fullest glory. Arrive earlier in the day to avoid crowds, and please, please don’t shake or climb the trees. Look and take pictures all you want, but don’t touch!