'Cherry Blossoms: Sakura Collections from the Library of Congress'

Photo by Unidentified Artist
Program for National Capital Cherry Blossom Festival 1949
Program for National Capital Cherry Blossom Festival 1949

Much like prognosticating Punxsutawney Phil, when horticulturists here predict peak blossom time, Washingtonians know it's spring. They're Japan's honorary ambassadors, those 3,020 cherry trees planted in 1912, the gift that keeps on giving. 

With its delightful illustrations, everything from vintage posters to woodblock prints and botanical watercolors, Cherry Blossoms: Sakura Collections from the Library of Congress, celebrates the thousand year-old Japanese springtime tradition.

(Photo by: Mari Nakahara and Katherine Blood)

Published this February, just in time for 2020 festivities.

The Boulevard, Potomac Park, Washington DC ca 1911 (Photo by: Digital Publishing Company) The Boulevard, Potomac Park, Washington DC ca 1911

Take a look at the Tidal Basin pre-planting in 1911 and you'll see how much these trees mean to our capital city. But what do they mean for Japanese culture?

Cherry Blossom Festival posters (Photo by: ) Cherry Blossom Festival posters

In early folklore, part of the spiritual landscape, sakura represented fertility and growth. In art and ceremony, they remain beloved by the Japanese people. 

Washington Monument, Washington DC, April 2, 2007 (Photo by: Carol M. Highsmith) Washington Monument, Washington DC, April 2, 2007

The legacy continues as each each year, thousands of visitors and residents celebrate the season with these precious petals.