A clear sign that the polar vortex pushed back our seasons are the Cherry Blossoms in High Park. We’ve been keeping tabs on “Cherry Blossom Watch” and hoping that the recent rains haven’t rid the trees of their blossoms, and today, we’re going on the hunt for cherry blossoms. While there are cherry trees across Toronto, High Park’s Sakura cherry trees (located around Hillside Gardens and the Duck Pond) are usually the biggest draws often attracting hundreds of visitors from around the city.
The first Japanese Somei-Yoshino Cherry Tree was planted here in 1959 and it was present from the citizens of Tokyo. These trees are the earliest to bloom and are much loved for their fluffy pink and white flowers. Another 34 cherry trees were donated to High Park in 2001 from the Sakura project. Other cherry trees were also donated to other locations around the city, for example Exhibition Place and various universities such as McMaster University, York Uni and the U of T.
I’ve just found out, however, there’s an alternate location for cherry blossom spotting: 30 Japanese Cherry trees were planted in 2011 on Toronto Islands, at Centre Island located at the south end of the bridge near the fountain. There are also cherry trees at Exhibition Place, McMaster University, York University (near Calumet College and on Ottawa Road near McLaughlin College) and the University of Toronto‘s main (next to Robarts Library) and Scarborough campuses.
My favourite thing about the cherry blossoms season, apart from the history, cultural significance, and reams of instagram pictures, is High Park’s website instructions:
Some tips for your visit and a few other things to keep in mind:
- Don’t break off branches from the trees! Not even small ones.
- Parking will be horrible inside the park – too many cars, long traffic jams, honking, frustrated drivers. Take transit! Or park outside the park.
- If you park illegally and you get a ticket do not complain about it.
- If you can, plan your visit for a weekday.
- There aren’t enough washrooms for the amount of people that are in the park when the trees are blooming.
- You don’t have to bring your crying two year old child and two dogs when the crowd is the biggest. (And I say this as a father of a crying two year old and two dogs). It’ll be so much easier for everybody if you go during off-peak hours.
For information on the history, cultural significance, and symbolism, check out these links.