Mother Nature is sending us some seriously mixed messages this year.
The first day of spring is officially March 20, and the first buds have already started to appear on trees. At the same time, the fourth Nor’easter in about a week is bearing down on the east coast.
What does that mean for cherry blossom season? Cherry trees are among the first to bloom every spring, and this one is going to be even earlier than usual thanks to record-setting high temperatures in February.
The National Park Service is predicting an early bloom for Washington D.C., where the nation’s largest collection of cherry trees can be found in West Potomac Park, next to the National Mall.
As it does every year, the National Cherry Blossom Festival will take place over four weeks beginning March 20, but peak blossoms are expected to arrive even sooner — between March 17 and 20.
That doesn’t necessarily mean you’ll miss out if you can’t make it to the capital this weekend. In 2017, blooming started early … but a sudden freeze killed off the flowers. The buds that survived ended up opening at the very end of the festival.
Here in New York, the best place to see cherry trees is the Brooklyn Botanic Garden, where it’s business as usual.
“Our cherry blossom trees are still in winter mode,” a rep tells Metro. “Most likely [they’ll] make their usual appearance in April.”
Cherry blossom season is known as Hanami, and Brooklyn Botanic’s prized Japanese Hill-and-Pond Garden will be the heart of the action.
Its collection of more than 200 Japanese cherry trees is the largest in the city — a stroll beneath the full canopy of classic pink Kanzan trees covering its Cherry Walk is an essential Brooklyn photo op.
Elsewhere in the garden are several other varieties, like the white-flowered Yoshino, the most prized variety in Japan, as well as tiny cherry bonsai trees.
The different varieties all bloom at various times, and only for a week each, through mid-May. In the middle of it all, don’t miss one of the garden’s largest parties of the year: Sakura Matsuri festival (April 28-29), a weekend-long celebration of Japanese culture with music, dancing, cultural events and tons of Comic Con-worthy cosplay.
You can keep an eye on the Brooklyn Botanic Garden’s blooms online with CherryWatch.
Want to know where the best public flower gardens are in New York City? Visit our guide to the largest collections of tulips, heathers, roses and orchids across the five boroughs, and check out these spectacular flower-themed festivals in the city and beyond.