Cherry Blossoms in Toronto's High Park

Mar 31, 2005
Toronto Canada
The cherry blossoms are blooming this weekend and hopefully the rain will only be spotty. I'm planning on heading there early tomorrow to grab some sunrise shots.

In 1959, the Japanese ambassador to Canada, Toru-Hagiwara, presented 2000 Japanese Somei-Yoshino Sakura trees to the citizens of Toronto on behalf of the citizens of Tokyo. The trees were planted in appreciation of Toronto accepting re-located Japanese-Canadians following the Second World War. Many of these trees were planted on the hillside overlooking Grenadier Pond (immediately southwest of the Grenadier Café) and around the west shore of the pond.

In 1984, a grove of Japanese cherry trees were planted along a pathway west of the Children’s Adventure Playground in High Park. The trees were donated by Yoriki and Midori Iwasaki as a special gift to the people of Toronto and “a joyful symbol of life”.

Through the Consulate General of Japan in Toronto’s “Sakura Project”, 34 Yoshino ‘Akebono’ and Kwanzan ‘Fugenzo’ Sakura trees were donated to High Park in 2001 on the west shore of Grenadier Pond near the Maple Leaf garden. In 2006, 16 additional Yoshino Sakura trees were planted near the original 1959 planting site.

Plaques commemorating each of the plantings can be found under the cherry trees in High Park.

Sakura Hanami

Sakura is the Japanese name for flowering cherry trees and their flowers – often referred to as cherry blossoms. The most popular variety of flowering cherry tree in Japan is the Yoshino. The Yoshino Cherry tree was first introduced to North America in 1902. In Japan there is a legend that each spring a fairy maiden hovers low in the warm sky, wakening the sleeping Cherry trees to life with her delicate breath.

Sakura trees are the first to bloom, with flowers that are nearly pure white with a hint of pink near the stem. The blossoms last for about a week, before the leaves come out. Due to their very short bloom time, Sakura blossoms are seen as a metaphor for life itself, luminous and beautiful, yet fleeting and ephemeral.

The Japanese traditional custom of hanami or “flower viewing” dates back to the Nara Period (710-794) when the Chinese Tang Dynasty influenced Japan with their custom of enjoying flowers. Ume (Japanese apricot) blossoms were admired by most during this period, but by the Heian Period (794-1191) cherry trees attracted more attention and were planted and cultivated for their beauty, especially in Kyoto (Japan’s capital city during this era). The custom of hanami was originally limited to the elite and Japanese nobility but soon spread to samurai society and then blossomed to include all levels of Japanese society.

To this day, when the Sakura trees bloom, Japanese people continue the tradition of hanami, gathering in great numbers during the day or evening to hold feasts and drink sake under the flowering trees. Many people also take part in processional walks through parks, contemplating and renewing their spirits under the Sakura trees. Hanami at night is called yozakura (meaning “night sakura”). In many places, paper lanterns are hung under trees for yozakura.

The Japanese Meteorogical Agency provides daily reports on the “sakura zensen” (cherry blossom front) as warmer weather moves up the island. Blossoming begins in Okinawa in January and reaches Tokyo by the end of March or beginning of April.

Sakura trees are not limited to Japan and High Park! Thanks to the “Sakura Project”, many other sites in Toronto are graced by these beautiful trees, including the CNE and the University of Toronto’s main and Scarborough campuses. Outside of Toronto, blossoms can be viewed at McMaster University and the Royal Botanical Gardens in Burlington. Cherry blossom viewing is a rite of spring in many cities across North America, where Sakura Matsuri (matsuri means “festival”) are held to celebrate the beauty of the Sakura trees.

High Park
Centrally located at 1873 Bloor St W, the park spans 161 hectares (399 acres), providing a unique and unusual sense of wilderness within a major urban centre.

The park, over one-third of which remains in a natural state, is home to many species of wildlife, including birds, fish and animals.

Recognized as one of the most significant natural sites within the City of Toronto, the park contains an outstanding concentration of rare plant species, including woodland fern-leaf, cup plant, shrubby St. John's Wort, and the wild blue lupine.

The oak savannahs in the park, form one of the most famous and admires aspects of the site. These savannahs are the remnants of the sand prairie system that once covered much of the Ontario landscape.

Easily accessible by public transit, High Park offers year-round attractions and amenities, including historic Colborne Lodge and the Coach House, a volunteer built playground, animal paddocks, sports fields, an outdoor ice rink, and the beautifully landscaped Hillside Gardens.

High Park is also home to the well-known Dream in High Park. This favorite open-air theatrical event has become a tradition for Torontonians and visitors alike, each summer.
Mar 31, 2005
Toronto Canada
Well, since you don't live in Toronto, you didn't need to read it. It was for information purposes for TO photogs. :biggrin:

Cold and windy with rain/snow this a.m. so I stayed warm at home with pot of coffee and the newspapers.
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