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.
The National Park Service has judged that the trees have reached the “florets visible” stage. Many of the trees are beyond that, and from a distance you can see that the trees are getting a reddish-brown tinge as the bud development progresses.
The Tidal Basin’s parking lot is now closed as they set up the welcome area. The saucer magnolias at the Smithsonian Castle are starting to bloom. And the equinox is creating some spectacular sunrise scenes. More details below.
How It’s Looking This Morning
It’s another pretty and clear spring morning down at the Tidal Basin. Here are some shots of how things are looking this morning.
Where to Find Cherry Blossoms This Weekend
Not all of the trees are on the same schedule. There are about a dozen different varieties. And even within the same variety, some trees naturally bloom earlier than others. There are some cherry blossoms blooming now, although it’s a very small number and you really need to go looking for them. The vast majority still have some work to do.
But if you’re out looking for cherry blossoms this weekend, it is possible to find at least some. Just don’t get your hopes up for many or that they’re especially photogenic.
There’s one tree over by the Jefferson Memorial that reliably blooms ahead of the others. It’s known as the indicator tree, and it’s starting to bloom now. Unfortunately, it’s not the prettiest tree and its few remaining branches are high up, making it hard to get good photos. You can see some examples from a couple of days ago, and I have information on how to find it here.
There’s also a fall/winter-blooming variety known as the Higan cherry, and you can find them bloom now. There aren’t many of them, the trees are quite small, and they don’t tend to be as bursting with flowers as the other varieties, but you can find several in the areas around the base of the Washington Monument.
This shot was taken this morning. You can find some more examples from a different patch of them in the previous update.
These are of one of the other trees that also reliably blooms a little ahead of the other, although not as early as the indicator tree. I’ll aim to track this tree regularly as we move through the bloom. These are the same branch, with the newest at top. It’s not blooming yet, but the puffy white petals are starting to poke through.
The saucer magnolias are coming out but aren’t quite in full bloom yet. These are the ones at the Enid A. Haupt Garden behind the Smithsonian Castle.
These were all taken this morning. Interesting, several of the trees aren’t as jammed with buds as they often are, so it might be a slightly subdued bloom this year (but will still be beautiful!). They should be reaching peak with the warmer temperatures this coming weekend.
The Tidal Basin’s parking lot by the paddle boats is now closed and they’re setting up the welcome area.
Ohio Drive still has its regular traffic pattern, although it looks like it’s closed off if you try to enter from the Lincoln Memorial end. They’re doing some roadwork behind the John Ericsson Memorial, but you can still enter down there using a temporary entrance they’ve set up just next to it. It’s not especially clearly signed, but the entrance is there (for now, at least).
Fountains at the National World War II Memorial
Are back up and running after being shut down for the winter.
If you’re after something a bit different and willing to get up early, it’s the time of year when the sun lines up directly along the National Mall at sunrise. And with a clear morning like we had this morning, the sunlight shines in directly on the statue of Abraham Lincoln.
I posted a few shots from Sunday morning when I was trying out the new Sony a6400.
This morning I was shooting with the brand new Olympus OM-D E-M1X. (These shots were all taken this morning.)
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.