Saturday, April 22, 2017
April 19, 2017, marked the first official day of the cherry tree blooms in High Park. Photographers converge on the park for a week to ten days each spring to see the blossoms. Heavy rain can wash the petals away leaving a window of opportunity to see the flowers that can last for only a couple of days some years. Since the climate in Toronto is close to the limit that the trees can endure, there are occasional years where the trees never blossom at all. There are several large parking lots in High Park but unless you come early you won’t get a spot in any of them during this time. To ensure that we had a place to park that was hassle free we parked in the free parking just east of Sunnyside Bathing Pavilion and walked north to the park. Several cherry trees are in bloom near Grenadier Pond.
The Japanese Cherry Tree blossom is known as Sakura to the Japanese who have adopted it as their national flower, a position it shares with the chrysanthemum. Many of the ornamental varieties of cherry trees do not produce fruit and are grown for the beauty of their blossoms.
The trees are related to almonds, peaches, plums and apricots as well as being distant cousins to apples, pears and roses. Signs throughout the park remind people to stay off of the cherry trees when taking pictures so that no branches will be broken.
Somei-Yoshino cherry trees are the earliest to bloom and High Park has many of these that were donated in 1959 by citizens of the city of Tokyo. Another 34 trees were donated in 2001. There are over 2,000 ornamental cherry trees in several locations around the city. Exhibition Place, York University and The University of Toronto all have cherry tree plantings. The blossoms are host to countless insects who are busy pollinating the trees. Two different species of bees are seen in the picture below.
The squirrels in the park have become quite used to people and behave as if they expect to get a peanut or some other treat.
The woodlands are blue with the flowers of scilla which are an early spring perennial.
Downey woodpeckers were especially common throughout the park but a bird watcher could collect many different species for their lists by sitting still for a few minutes.
The High Park website provides a map to show where the main cherry tree locations are.
If you want to avoid the crowds at High Park you may choose to look for the 30 Japanese Cherry Trees on Toronto Islands.
Google Maps Link: High Park
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