DC Cherry Blossoms in 2021
It seems increasingly likely that DC will still be under COVID-19 restrictions in spring 2021 while the cherry blossoms are blooming. So it's shaping up to be a good year to follow along from afar from the safety and comfort of your home.
There’s now no difficulty finding flowers out. Many of the trees have at least some flowers opening; some trees have many. The warmer temperatures on Friday and Saturday will make them really start popping. So the cherry blossoms will be looking beautiful this weekend (expect crowds).
Photos from this morning and more details below.
How It’s Looking Today at the Tidal Basin
It’s another pretty and sunny spring morning with a bit of a chill in the air.
Prospects for the Weekend of April 6-7
Obviously, not everyone can go during the work week, so I’ve been getting a lot of questions about the weekend of April 6-7.
The odds are good that there will still be plenty of flowers out and they’ll be looking lovely. But it’s never a sure thing because so much of it depends on the weather.
In ideal conditions (cool, calm, dry), they can last more than a week–perhaps even two. But as they move past full bloom the flowers also become more fragile, which makes them more vulnerable to rain, wind, and storms, and it’s not unheard of for them to be mostly gone in 4-6 days after the peak bloom day.
I know that this isn’t as firm an answer as you’d like, but here’s a quick example to explain the hedging. These photos were taken at 5 days after peak bloom. The first two were in 2018:
These second two were taken 5 days after the peak bloom in 2014:
For more detailed examples, I’ve put together this photo timeline from past years showing the types of things you can expect in the days before and after peak bloom.
So there’s a good chance they’ll still be looking lovely the weekend of April 6-7, but as you can see from these photos, it’s impossible to give a firm prediction, and it’s worth going into it at least knowing of the risk that unhelpful weather can potentially have an impact.
Cherry Blossom 10-Miler
One extra consideration for April 7 is that the Cherry Blossom 10-miler is being run that morning. You can still get to the Tidal Basin, but it makes the logistics of getting to and from more complicated because of the road closures that come with it.
You can find more information here.
Where You Can Find Cherry Blossoms Flowering Now
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.
Flowers are now starting to open on many of the trees, so you won’t have any trouble finding cherry blossoms. But here are some ideas if you’re trying to find some trees that are marching ahead of the others and have more blossoms on them.
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 in full bloom now. Unfortunately, it’s not the prettiest tree and its few remaining branches are high up, making it hard to get good photos, but you can see some photos of it from two days ago here. I also have detailed 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.
And along Potomac waterfront between the Lincoln Memorial and the 14th Street Bridge there are several weeping cherries which are blooming quite fully now. Here are some shots of some of those taken yesterday.
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.
The Tidal Basin’s parking lot by the paddle boats is now closed for the Cherry Blossom Festival Welcome Area.
Ohio Drive still has its regular traffic pattern. The roadwork that they were doing behind the John Ericsson Memorial at the Lincoln Memorial end is complete and you can use the usual entrance to Ohio Drive. They haven’t implemented the special one-way restrictions yet, but I would expect them to be in place this coming weekend.
If you’re coming in from the Arlington side of the Potomac, be aware Memorial Bridge is undergoing major structural repairs. It is still open, but there are temporary traffic lanes that can impact traffic flow and where you can turn once you get off the bridge.
Very pretty sunrises at this time of year, especially with the east-west layout of the National Mall. As some examples, these are some shots I took this morning.
At this time of year, there are beautiful flowers to be had all over the place. Maybe in your backyard. Maybe in the local park.
These are ere are some of my favorite books that I've reviewed on taking photos of flowers:
- Timber Press OR
- Detrick, Alan L. (Author)