Pat Shingleton: "Our Azaleas and Their Cherry Trees."
On March 27, 1912, Tokyo's Mayor, Yakio Ozahi presented the city of Washington, D.C. with 3,000 cherry trees to celebrate the "lasting friendship between the United States and Japan." In Baton Rouge, our first Spring indicators are the Japanese magnolias followed by our marvelous azaleas that peaked early this year due to a very warm February. The National Cherry Blossom Festival began March 20th and will conclude on April 17th. Activities include parades, dinners, fireworks, art displays, musical performances and a 10K race. Traditionally, buds on the trees usually burst in the early spring and just like south Louisiana, the blossoming depends on the weather. As we experienced the early-blooming of our azaleas the opposite was true for the cherry trees. A recent cold-snap diminished the number of blossoms in comparison to previous years. The peak bloom period averages between March 21st and March 30th. This year, from March 20th through April 17th, 87% of the blossoms open up and from now until April 9, only 20 percent of the blossoms are open. The peak period varies each year when warm weather replaces the winter’s chill.