Cherry Blossom Watch Update: March 29, 2018

It’s now getting much easier to find at least a few blossoms coming out. Quite a few of the trees are starting to show a few flowers each, and while it's still only a tiny proportion of the total, they're easy to find all the way around the Tidal Basin.

UPDATE: The NPS judged that the cherry blossoms have reached the "peduncle elongation" stage as of today, March 29. Only one more stage (puffy white) to come before peak bloom.
DC's cherry blossoms reached peak bloom on April 1, 2019. They're now done for the year.

It's now getting much easier to find at least a few blossoms coming out. Quite a few of the trees are starting to show a few flowers each, and while it's still only a tiny proportion of the total, they're easy to find all the way around the Tidal Basin. There's a small handful of trees blooming more fully, but on most of the trees that are showing any flowers at all it's only a handful on each tree.

I have some examples in the photos from this morning, below. You'll also find further down the page some major tree surgery this morning on some of the most picturesque of the trees as well as an update on the magnolias.

While this morning has been overcast and foggy, this afternoon is shaping up to be very pretty, with sunny conditions and the highest temperatures we've seen in over a month (mid-70s).

The warmth today and tomorrow, and to a lesser extent into the weekend, will coax out more flowers.

For this weekend, you can find flowers, but it's still by no means anywhere near full bloom. While cooler temperatures are expected to roll in for next week, there'll be much more to see the following weekend (April 7-8). Now that we have a combination of more happening and warmer temperatures I'll be posting updates more frequently. So stay tuned!

How it Looks this Morning

All photos were taken early this morning.

You can see one of the early bloomers standing out to the left of the frame.

The special one-way traffic flow along Ohio Drive is now in place, so you can't enter down by the John Ericsson Memorial. Instead you'll have to go around the Jefferson Memorial.

There's not much to see at the Floral Library just yet. There's a handful of yellow flowers out, but most aren't ready yet, and the whole garden is fenced off at the moment.

Tree Surgery

Some of my favorites among the trees have been undergoing some major surgery this morning. These are some of the oldest of the tree near the MLK Memorial. With their big, heavy branches arching out over the path to the water, these grizzled trees have been some of the most photogenic, and they're ones that feature prominently in the photos on this site.

But some of those branches have seemed to be hanging on by a thread lately and looked quite precarious. I posted some examples [a few weeks ago](https://cherryblossomwatch.com/cherry-blossom-watch-update-march-6-2018/).

The NPS team looking after the cherry trees have pulled the trigger and decided to take the branches down this morning.

Magnolias

The magnolias have been biding their time, but are finally starting to open up. The ones in the Enid A. Haupt Garden (behind the Smithsonian Castle) are open and looking wonderful. If you look closely, you can see scars from the sub-freezing temperatures last recently, but overall they're looking magnificent. The photos below and at the top of the page were taken early this morning (in less than ideal light conditions).

If you want to enjoy them without the weekend crowds, this afternoon is going to be hard to beat with the combination of warm, sunny weather and flowers.

The magnolias at Smithsonian Castle are finally out.

Taken with a Fujifilm X-T2 and an 18-55mm ƒ/2.8-4 lens.

Taken with a Fujifilm X-T2 and an 18-55mm ƒ/2.8-4 lens.

Logistics

The Maine Ave parking lot (near the paddle boats) is still closed for parking to make way for the Welcome Area. It's scheduled to remain closed until April 1, but given the late bloom I'd expect the Welcome Area's residency to be extended.

The special one-way traffic restrictions are in place along Ohio Drive, so you can't enter down by the John Ericsson Memorial (the Lincoln Memorial end). Instead, you'll have to do the circuit around the Jefferson Memorial. You can still park there, although during the day you'll be battling for spaces with all the tour buses bring school groups on spring break.

The special one-way traffic flow along Ohio Drive is now in place, so you can't enter down by the John Ericsson Memorial. Instead you'll have to go around the Jefferson Memorial.

Early Bloomers

I've been tracking this specific cluster of buds/flowers for a couple of weeks now. Here's the latest shot. This tree is by the FDR Memorial. You can see it standing out in one of the wider shots above.

March 29, 2018.

March 26, 2018.

March 23, 2018.

March 21, 2018.

For Photographers

I highly recommend the magnolias behind the Smithsonian Castle right now. They're looking beautiful, and the way they hang low makes them an especially nice backdrop for portraits.

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.

Last updated March 29, 2018 4:46 pm

View Comments

  • Thank you so much for the information and beautiful pictures. I was wondering if there are any updates on Kwanzan.

    • I did check in on them this morning. Nothing to see on the trees yet. I haven't heard a peak bloom prediction for them yet.

  • Thanks for the updates. I planned my hotel reservations for the peak Blossom correctly for the April 7 weekend (from Connecticut).

  • Will the magnolia survive tomorrows rain when I go to see them Saturday morning?

  • Do you think which weekend is better to see blossoms? I can do 9th and 13th? Which is better? Try to make my plan quickly!
    Thank you!

    • If I was making plans for me, I'd probably be going with the 9th. It's possible they might not yet be at the technical peak bloom yet--and that might, obviously, happen middle of the week--but there'll be plenty of flowers out by then. The 13th might also still be great, although there's some risk of storms or rain knocking the petals off (assuming they've already peaked by then).

      • If the cherry reached the puffy white stage already, and the weather become cold again, is that can slowdown them again?
        Thank you so much

  • About the tree surgery, while safety should always be the No. 1 concerned, I think one of the things that make the Tidal Basin cherry blossom so unique and photogenic is the branches hanging over the water like bonsais. It would be a pity if they are removed. But they got to do what they got to do for safety.

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