|Ambassador Chinda and his wife|
USDA Photo via National Georgraphic files
by Peggy Robin
Although this hasn't been a stellar year for our capital's cherry trees -- pushed by the February heatwave to semi-bloom too early, then hammered in mid-March by snowfall and days of freezing temperatures -- we still have our blossoms, enough to remind us that our trees are still a treasure....as they have been for 105 years.
Yes, the original cherry trees were planted along Washington’s Tidal Basin a century ago -- plus another half a decade on top of that (I could add, with a cherry on top...) On March 27, 1912, Vicountess Iwa Chinda, the wife of the Japanese ambassador, stood, shovel in hand, alongside First Lady Helen Taft, wife of William Howard Taft, and planted the very first cherry tree by the Tidal Basin, --one of 3,020 saplings shipped off from Tokyo aboard the S.S. Awa Maru, to be planted in the newly created East and West Potomac Parks -- a gift of the Japanese people.
The National Park Service, which has faithfully maintained and protected the trees for all these years, now says the grove numbers about 3,700. Happy birthday to them all! ----
Still Life with Robin is published on All Life Is Local and on the Cleveland Park Listserv, usually on Saturdays, but for this special occasion, on Monday.