Cherry Blossom Watch Update: March 30, 2015

There's a little progress with the cherry blossoms, but they still have some work to do. And as we head into April, traffic is picking up around the Tidal Basin.

There’s not much to see down at the cherry blossoms so far, and even the tulip magnolias and most of the daffodils haven’t yet come out. Combined with a very cold weekend, spring is feeling a bit like a technicality. But things are looking up as the sun starts to come out this afternoon and the forecast for the coming week is better.

The traffic restrictions on Ohio Drive haven’t yet kicked in, so for now it’s still 2-way traffic down by West Potomac Park. My guess is that that might change this coming weekend as visitor numbers swell with people coming into town for Easter. The lighting of the Japanese stone lantern is scheduled for Sunday afternoon. You can find more details here.

Over at the Maine Ave parking lot, the NPS popup shops and information booths, as well as the food tent and an outdoor stage, are now open for business and have a program of events happening, but they’re still waiting on tourist traffic to pick up. That said, it’s definitely busier than it has been around the Tidal Basin, helped along by families and school groups visiting during spring break.

There were a handful of paddle boats out today. I talked with the folks there about their reservations. All of their reservations are booked up through April 12, which is when the end of their reservation period is. But that doesn’t mean you can’t get a paddle boat. They have a total of 72 boats and 50 of them are kept aside for walk-ups. So it’s still possible to get a boat on a first-come, first-served basis.

I had some questions about the water features the FDR Memorial. I did see one small waterfall working, but most of the water features still weren’t on.

There haven’t been any updates to the peak bloom forecasts. So far, there hasn’t been anything to suggest that the bloom will come earlier because it has been consistently colder than average. You can find the current ones here. And I’ve posted a new photo timeline of what to expect, when.

And so we don’t totally lose faith that spring is coming, here are some shots taken this morning at the small group of trees blooming early over near the World War One Memorial. They’re not at all typical of the progress of most of the trees, but if you’re looking for some color there is some to be found if you go hunting. I have detailed information on how to find them on the March 24 update.

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 June 29, 2016 1:32 pm

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  • Hi David,
    I find your information is very detailed and extremely helpful. All of your updates are very much appreciated, thank you! My family and I plan to visit DC the weekend of April 11th and are hoping the cherry blossoms will be in bloom then. Any thoughts?

    We are making the 12-hour drive from Florida. Also thanks for you information on the type of lens you use. I have a Nikon 70-200mm and am hoping for some good shots.

    Many thanks :-)

    • Glad the info is useful. There are very likely to be blossoms out by April 11--it'll just be a question of how much. It's possible they'll be in full bloom, but even if the peak bloom doesn't come until April 14-16 or so, there should be plenty to see on April 11. If you haven't already, this post gives some ideas of what to expect at what stages in the process relative to peak bloom. And the 70-200mm is an excellent choice (and, of course, an outstanding lens). I've taken some of my favorite photos down there with that lens in past years. The cherry blossoms make for one of those spectacles where pretty much any lens can get great photos. If you have a wide-angle, the spread and sheer volume of flowers can be showed well. With a macro you can get in close and isolate small bunches of flowers. And because of the shape of the Tidal Basin, with a telephoto you can make use of iconic shapes in the background like the Jefferson Memorial, Washington Monument, or MLK Memorial. So you can turn up with pretty much any lens and take away some wonderful photos. It's also a great opportunity to rent or borrow something different to try out.

  • Where is the best place to see cherry blossoms today, April 3,2015? Is there any blooming around the mall area?

  • oh, it seems like there is nothing to see about the cherry blossoms now. I will going to washington next tuesday April 7, do you think there will be something to see at that time? I really concern about that because it is the purpose of the trip and I am flight from Canada to see that.

  • On behalf of my wife I've got to thank you for this site and your updates. We planned our trip from California to coincide with the cherry trees blossoming. Now that you've pointed out the trees blooming at Pershing Park, well be there tomorrow.
    Thank you for saving this trip.

  • I booked my fight and hotel 2 months ago and my schedule will be from 4-8 April :( So sad that it's not the peak one. I'm from south east asia then it's half of the earth distance for us. I can not change the schedule. Do you think I still can have some pretty experience with the cherry blossom?

    • The chances will increase the longer you're here. It doesn't look as though there'll be much to see when you first arrive, but by April 8 there should be something to see even if we're still several days away from peak bloom. Today's update should help, as should this post on what to expect to see up to a week before peak bloom.

  • Hi,

    Thanks so much for the updates!
    Just wondering, what type of lens did you use for the close-up shots of the cherry blossoms?

    Thank you

    • I use a mix. Many of the ones of the cherry blossom buds so far have been with an Olloclip on an iPhone 6. It's quick, easy, and works well for those types of shots. If you're interested, I have a review of the Olloclip here. But for most of the ones with the open flowers like the ones above, I've so far been using mostly a Nikon 105mm micro. Once we start getting more flowers to take "proper" photos, I'll shift more to a few different macro lenses, including a Nikon 200mm, Nikon 60mm, and one or two others. I'll be posting hands-on reviews of some of them over the next couple of weeks over in the gear section of my site.

  • Hi David,
    I just want to say thank you so much for the updates. It was really fun reading your updates. I already booked my room a month ago for this coming weekend and after weighing everything, I have decided to stick with it. I have been to DC, so this trip is mainly for the cherry. I have been reading your updates everyday, hoping you might announce an earlier blossom. Regardless if I will see any cherry flowers, this site has been massively helpful. Keep it up and see you again next year!
    Joe

  • We were trying to make it this weekend but had to delay our visit until next weekend (April 9-12). Now I'm so glad we did! I love following your posts and photos, thank you so much!! Coming to DC to see the cherry blossoms has been on my bucket list for years!

  • Thank you so much for the forecast! I have booked my tickets to visit DC the Easter weekend months ago so it's too late to change it for the cherry blossom (I'm not from the US), but your website helped me a lot in setting expectations for the trees. I look forward to your next update!

  • David - thanks for all your helpful updates and photos.

    I think these "early bloomers" by the MLK Memorial/DC War Memorial might be plum blossoms rather than cherry blossoms, though. The petals are round rather than heart-shaped.

    • Thanks! I was hoping someone might be able to ID them. I have some close-ups from last week that might also help here.

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