It's still too early to guess with any confidence when DC's cherry blossoms will bloom in 2020, and no peak bloom forecasts have been issued yet. Stay tuned for the first peak bloom forecasts to be announced around the beginning of March.
The winter so far has been much warmer than normal. January and February have both tracked well above average. If that continues--and that's always a big "if"--it points to an earlier-than-average bloom, more late-March than early-April. But there's still plenty of time for cold weather to arrive and settle in, so it's still too early to predict with confidence.
There’s a lot in this update. You can find photos of how they’re looking this morning down below. In response to a number of people asking, I’ve included some thoughts on which weekend will be best to visit. There are also updates on the magnolias at the Enid A. Haupt Garden, the draining of the Reflecting Pool, paddle boat reservations, and the closing of the parking lot next to the paddle boats.
There’s been steady progress, but with the continuing cool temperatures it has been slow. There are some flowers starting to come out on the so-called indicator tree, but it’s not yet in full bloom. Not every tree is on exactly the same schedule, but the vast majority still have some work to do before they’re close to blooming.
Looking ahead a week or two, the current National Weather Service 8-14 day prediction is for cool temperatures, with the warm area that was coming through moving off well to our south.
At the time of writing, National Park Service hasn’t yet updated their website to indicate that they judge that 70% buds have entered the florets visible stage (the second of the six stages of the bloom they track), but I’d expect them to make that call any day now. As you can see from the photos below, some of them are moving ahead of that.
I’ve been getting questions about whether this weekend or next would be better. If I was planning my own trip and had to stick to weekends, I’d be inclined to choose next weekend (March 24-25).
There might be some early bloomers with flowers coming out this weekend, but most of them aren’t there yet and there won’t be much to see. And with cool temperatures expected through most of this week, there aren’t any very warm days expected that would really jolt the process along. It’s expected to warm up a bit next week, although not by an enormous amount. So we can likely expect more slow and steady progress. Of course, things can change quickly, especially if some warm temperatures roll in. I’ll be posting regular updates through the week, so be sure to check back in.
And even if peak bloom does end up falling in the middle of next week, there’s a good chance of there being plenty of flowers out on the weekend of 24-25. I have a separate post with some examples of how long the cherry blossoms stay out.
If you are coming in this weekend, I’d recommend a visit to the Enid A. Haupt Garden behind the Smithsonian Castle to see the saucer magnolias. There’s more on them below, along with some photos of how they’re looking this morning.
Photos taken this Morning
Here’s how things are looking this morning.
The so-called indicator tree is consistently ahead of the others. It’s starting to flower but isn’t yet in full bloom. Here’s how it’s looking this morning. If you’d like to find it yourself, here’s how.
Tidal Basin Logistics
The parking lot next to the paddle boats is now closed as they set up the Welcome Area for opening on Saturday.
The roads around West Potomac Park and the Tidal Basin still have normal traffic patterns.
Reservations for the Tidal Basin’s paddle boats are now open. You can reserve online here.
Magnolias at the Enid A. Haupt Gardens
The magnolias are close but aren’t quite fully out yet. Here are some photos taken this morning.
If you’re not familiar with this garden, it’s behind the Smithsonian Castle. They have a very impressive collection of flowering plants and flowers, but a real spring highlight is large number of saucer magnolias (or tulip magnolias). You can see an example of they look like in full bloom here.
Lincoln Memorial Reflecting Pool
The Reflecting Pool is current drained for repairs. I don’t know when they’re expecting to refill it.
As we come up to the equinox, that unfortunately means no beautiful reflection photos from the steps of the Lincoln Memorial of the sun rising behind the Washington Monument.
Also worth mentioning is that while the Lincoln Memorial remains open, the sides and back are barricaded off. You can still access the steps and the main chamber.
Sony Trade-In Offer at B&H Photo
Coinciding with the release of their new Sony A7III, Sony is putting an aggressive marketing push behind the other cameras in their Alpha range. That includes a trade-in deal where you can trade in your old non-Sony gear for one of their newer cameras (but not the brand-new A7III, it seems). You can get a quote immediately online as well as get a special trade-in bonus. You can find details at B&H Photo.
Gear Rental Deals
If you’re looking to rent some gear, there are some deals worth knowing about:
- BorrowLenses has 15% off any rental. Use coupon code TAKE15OFF. Offer expires 3/12 and orders must be delivered/picked up by/on 3/19. They’re also offering 20% off a selection of popular gear (use coupon code 20FOR20 and only applies to these lenses and cameras.
- Lens Pro to Go currently has 15% to 25% off through March (must be delivered by March 30).
Locally, Ace Photo, District Camera, and f8 Rentals also offer rental gear, although their selections are often not as extensive as the big online places. And if you’re shooting video, DC Camera’s offerings have some interesting gear.
Want to Help Support DC's Cherry Trees?
If you'd like to help support the care and upkeep of the cherry trees around the Tidal Basin, the Trust for The National Mall has launched an Endow a Cherry Tree Campaign. Donations go to the official Cherry Tree Endowment, which will give the National Park Service additional resources to fund the care, maintenance, and possible replacement of the cherry trees. You can find more information here.
The Trust is dedicated to marshaling private support for maintaining and improving the history National Mall area. I'm not affiliated with the Trust--just an admirer of their efforts.