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Thursday, March 27, 2014

A Century of Cherry Blossom Watches

Cherry blossoms along the Tidal Basin, circa 1920s. J. Horace McFarland, photographer. (AAG# DC001)
Smithsonian Institution, Archives of American Gardens, J. Horace McFarland Collection 
The first day of spring has already come and gone, but spring in Washington, D.C., still feels like it has yet to arrive. We will know when winter’s grip has finally loosened when the cherry trees are blooming around the Tidal Basin. Many of these trees are over a century old. Originally planted between 1912 and 1920, the image above shows the cherry trees in all their glory roughly 80 or 90 years ago. It was likely photographed by J. Horace McFarland --or possibly someone employed by his company Mount Pleasant Press-- and is preserved in the Smithsonian’s Archives of American Gardens. McFarland was a horticulturist, educator, promoter of the City Beautiful movement and early advocate for the National Park Service. He also frequently used lantern slides like this one to illustrate his many lectures on civic improvement and city beautification projects.

Learn more about the history, care, and preservation of Washington's cherry trees on the National Park Service website:

Browse more digitized photographs from the J. Horace McFarland Collection on Pinterest.

Kelly Crawford
Museum Specialist
Archives of American Gardens

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