This is one of the peaks of the past nine months I’ve spent in Washington, DC. I was eager to see the famous cherry blossoms around the tidal basin, near the Jefferson Memorial. They have reached peak bloom this past weekend, and that was absolutely lovely.
So yes, my promise to write my first post in 2016 from Texas is now gone. The back and forth between Austin and DC has stopped until I go back to Austin for good, in a few weeks. More on this in a later post.
For now, let’s go back to spring in Washington, DC.
The Cherry Blossom Festival originates from a gift of 2,000 cherry trees that the city of Tokyo made to Washington, DC in 1912. On March 27, 1912, First Lady Helen Herron Taft and Japanese Viscountess Iwa Chinda, the wife of Sutemi Chinda, Japan’s newly appointed ambassador to the United States, planted the first two trees. In 1965, First Lady Lady Bird Johnson accepted an additional 3,800 trees. The first festival took place in 1927, was expanded to three days in 1934, and to two weeks in 1994.
The U.S. reciprocated the gifts, sending Japan flowering dogwood trees in 1915. In 1981, DC arborists sent cuttings from the newly American cherry trees following the destruction of Japanese trees by a flood in Japan.
The cherry blossoms are of course especially impressive around the Tidal Basin, but you can find many in the entire region. According to some figures, more than 1,000 cherry trees were planted in recent years in the region.
Horticulturists from the National Park Service monitor different stages of bud development to be able to give an estimate of when the cherry blossoms will reach peak bloom. But of course, this is not an easy job. This year, the initial forecast was for early April, but was adjusted a few weeks ago and moved forward after warmer than usual weather.
In conclusion, the region is incredibly beautiful when spring comes, and well worth a visit.
As you can see from the pictures, there were a lot of people (I read that 1.5 million people come to see the cherry blossoms each year), and the weather was not sunny, which was challenging to come up with good photographs. Hopefully though, they will still give you an idea of the beauty of the event.
Source of information & additional links:
– National Cherry Blossom Festival
– This Day in History: March 27, 1912 – Japanese cherry trees planted along the Potomac
– Cherry Blossom Watch
– Cherry Blossoms in 360°
In the first part of this series, we talked Texas bluebonnets, and in the second part, a variety of other wildflowers. In this third and last part, I just want to share something we ran into before seeing the natural fields of Texas bluebonnets showcased in part 1.
We were visiting Fredericksburg and the area, when we discovered a flower shop that was quite unusual. Wildseed Farms is growing wildflowers on a very large scale.
Imagine our astonishment, as we were first discovering the beauty that is spring in the Texas Hill Country.
Additionally, and something quite unconventional when you come from France, the owners of the farms let people go around and take pictures in the fields, without asking for purchase.
The place is also a very nice place to relax, read a book, or have a drink (or all of these!).
They vary according to the date and area. I have never before seen such a variety.
And this is what my yard looked like at the time:
Last part on spring in the Hill Country will take us to another, particular field of bluebonnets.
Although I am currently away from Texas, and Spring is either in a distant past or a distant future, I don’t think I should postpone this post any further.
Texas has many things to offer to visitors. My absolute favorite is spring in the Hill Country or Central Texas.
Fields and every square foot of grass are covered in wildflowers. The most beautiful flowers color the landscape. And when one type of flower dies, another takes over. It is really amazing.
One of the emblematic flowers of the state of Texas, and of the season, is the Texas Bluebonnet. It is the “State Flower of Texas” and a native of the state.
I have to confess something though. I used to think that these extraordinary pictures of entire fields of bluebonnets were Photoshopped. Until I saw them with my own eyes.
If you must visit Texas only once, I highly recommend these area and seasons. You will be enchanted.
With the next post, I will show you some of the variety of wildflowers. But with this post, I invite you to enjoy bluebonnets.
[You can click on any picture to enlarge it]
Spring has officially arrived in Texas, and it is especially beautiful in the region I live in, the Hill Country.
If you happened to read me before 2014, you probably know that I had decided to stop this blog. But then two things happened:
2. Although time was scarce, I kept on discovering Texas, and on thinking “oh, I could have shared this on my blog!”
Now, the region where I live, central Texas, also known as the Hill Country, is well known for its gorgeous flowery springs: bluebonnets and hundreds of different wildflowers cover the sides of roads, I was told. I was very eager to see those carpets of wildflowers. Guess what? That was true. Grass-covered shoulders or center divider strips on highways and back roads have turned all kind of colors, depending on the flowers growing on them, sometimes showcasing a rainbow pattern. No, honestly, I could not not share this.
This is hence how I will go back to blogging here. The posts will be sparse, at least at the beginning. I do hope you will enjoy them though!
Here are some of the pictures I took the past two weekends, the first with flowers around. Each picture can be enlarged if you click on it.
Next time, I will tell you more about bluebonnets and we will visit a wildflower farm.
Last March, I wrote a post about our visit to the beautiful Cranberry Lake Preserve and how it had been affected by Sandy. You can read the post here.
I received several messages following this post, including in the comments, notably updating me on how the place was being cleaned of the debris and damages made by Sandy.
More recently, I received a email letting me know that “David Licata, a local glass artist, [wa]s installing glass orchids throughout the park inspired by the locally growing Pink Ladyslipper Orchid.” He is giving tours and the exhibition was supposed to last until December 1st. Unfortunately, upon checking Mr. Licata’s website, it seems that the orchids had to be removed due to vandalism. But he will display some during his tours. Please click on the links for more details, on Mr Licata’s website.
I have not seen this exhibition and will not be able to see it since, as you know if you’ve been following me for more than 6 months, I have now moved from New York to Texas. But you might want to see it!
I also thought it would be the occasion to update my March post by pictures we took on our second visit to Cranberry Lake Preserve in June.
[Click on any picture to enlarge and open the slideshow]
Another gorgeous discovery we made in the area in terms of natural parks and preserves, is the Longhorn Cavern, in Marble Falls, west of Austin.
Longhorn Cavern was acquired in 1932-1937 from private owners. It was dedicated as a state park in 1932, was opened in 1938, and was dedicated as a natural landmark in 1971.
During the last million years, the water deposited a thick layer of mud and debris in the cave. Early visitors were restricted to a small area due to this debris. Some of the earliest visitors were the area’s prehistoric peoples, who used the large room next to the main entrance for shelter. Anglo settlers discovered the cavern in the mid-1800s and began mining bat guano, which was used in manufacturing gun powder during the Civil War.
The cave has been used as a shelter since prehistoric times. Among legends about the cave is one that the outlaw Sam Bass hid a $2 million cache of stolen money inside. Confederates made gunpowder in the cave during the Civil War. Legend also says Texas Rangers rescued a kidnapped girl from Indians in the cave.
There is no evidence that Sam Bass ever visited the cave, but stories like this one drew tourists as early as the turn of the 20th century. By the 1920s, the main room served as a dance hall and concert venue.
The cavern is a marvel of nature and quite amazing to visit. We took one of the daily tours, and the guide was excellent. If you are in the Austin area and like caverns and caves, I highly recommend visiting it.
I did my best (which was not enough) with pictures. Flash, though allowed, most of the time gave very bad results, and tripods were not allowed. Silly me forgot my reflex, so I was left with my point & shoot and my iPhone. Surprisingly, my iPhone gave better results in some cases.
Hope it gives you a taste of this beautiful cavern!
[Click on any picture to enlarge and open the slideshow]