Sakura Watch, April 18, 2016 – Green tips begin to emerge on the sakura cherry blossom buds after the cold weather has finally given way to sunny days and much warmer weather. The first signs of spring seems to have finally made its way into ‘the 6’ and the forecast calls for continued good weather and warm temperatures for the weeks ahead.

Great progress could be seen today as the buds show distinctive signs of swelling and prominent, healthy green tips – both clear signs that the blossom development is well into stage 2. The next couple weeks will be an exciting time for all Sakura Watchers as the most dramatic changes will begin to occur over the next few stages and continue to push us towards an early May full bloom!

This coming weekend should offer even clearer insight into how fast the progress is moving now that we have mother nature on our side. I’ll be examining the progress a bit more in depth throughout the park on my next visit and hope to offer even more accurate predictions for everyone.

So to all you sakura cherry blossom admirers its time to start getting geared up for the big show as its fast approaching in the weeks ahead! Stay tuned for more updates this weekend.

Sakura Watch, April 9, 2016 – Cherry blossoms await warmer days as they impatiently hope for the wintery weather to finally end – and yet there the warning of even more snowfall to come over the weekend.

The seemingly never ending grip of cold continues to challenge spring to one last bout before the warmer temperatures can finally return for good. Long range weather predictions still showing a much warmer second half of April that will help the sakura cherry blossom development to finally move ahead and take us into a blooming May.

My visit to the park Friday showed there was hardly any change which is not surprising considering all the cold and snow over the past week kept them hiding in the protective buds for a little while longer. Using my iPhone and Camera+ app Macro setting, I was able to shoot these highly detailed close-up of the buds that demonstrate how the buds protect themselves from the cold. Look at the multiple outer layers and their slightly furry covering doing their best to protect the precious blossom petals inside. When those now brown tips begin to turn green, that is when we will be well on our way to the next development stages.

If the higher temperatures make there way this week then we should begin to see some progress in the next Sakura Watch update next weekend. Stay tuned for more updates later this week!

 

Sakura Watch, April 2, 2016 – Cold weather keeps buds closed for now as the sakura cherry blossom trees in High Park are subjected to another below zero week. In fact there was even snow in the forecast! Mother nature is continuing to put a hold on spring but I know you are all wondering what does this mean for the sakura cherry blossoms?

Good news is the buds are all still in their early stages and closed tight so they should stay protected from these freezing temperatures.

Bad news is the cold winter weather is supposed to continue throughout the week which could then possibly slow down the blossom development and push the bloom dates out a little longer into the first week of May and possibly be around for Mother’s Day (as in previous years).

Judging the by the photos taken today, a few sakura cherry blossom buds are beginning to show a bit of green tips – a sure sign of the stage 2 development cycle – though there’s hope they are still protected enough to not be harmed by the freezing temperatures.

NEW Bloom Prediction Dates

Taking this wintery weather week into consideration, I’m now going to begin predicting the bloom dates will be moved out to between May 5-12, 2016. Of course these dates could still change if we get good weather that helps to encourage the trees to bloom sooner, but as I keep watching the trees over the weeks ahead I’ll be able to better predict more accurate days when they will bloom.

So keep checking back on the website and for best dates! Enjoy the rest of the weekend!

Sakura Watch, March 25, 2016 – Trees survive the ice storm of 2016 that rained down freezing rain throughout Toronto and the GTA just before the Easter long weekend. I ventured out to have a look at survey the potential effect the ice may have had on the sakura cherry blossom trees in the park and am happy to say there was hardly any damage done at all!

Since the buds are all still in the early stages and completely closed, they were able to protect the precious flower petal blooms patiently waiting inside for sunnier and warmer days to come. The photos in the gallery above show an etherial beauty to the trees as they shimmer as the ice catches the light and give the trees a unique look we seldom see this time of year.

Close-up photos will show how most of the ice storm’s freezing rain actually rested on top of the buds and branches – almost like an ice blanket – which only further helped to keep the buds in tact and safe from any real damage. Warmer weather is on the way and the ice has already begun to melt – I tried capturing a series of photos depicted some of the melting ice as it dripped from one of the blossom branches.

With this trip I believe I can begin predicting on when we can start seeing the cherry blossom blooms for 2016. The shapes of the buds and look do indicate they are in their still in stage 1, but a few appear to be getting ready for stage 2 which if correct would place them on the path of coming out towards the end of April. Exactly when is still a bit off to say, but if the weather can cooperate and the sakura buds continue to develop then we should be able to enjoy them in about a month from now.

Stay tuned for more updated to follow in the weeks ahead AND wishing everyone a HAPPY EASTER WEEKEND!

Sakura Watch, March 18, 2016 – Buds continue to grow in the wet and mild March weather. The good news is the Sakura cherry blossom trees are looking strong and healthy throughout the park.

Questions of course turn to wondering when will the Sakura trees bloom this year? The large and round shape of the buds which are showing distinct tips indicate that still in the early stages of development.

The trend so far seems to point towards the cherry blossoms beginning to bloom in the later half of April. This would be the normal time the blooms have opened in previous years. Further updates will help determine how fast they develop. As well, if the warmer, mild weather trend continues into April then we can also expect to see a bloom by mid to late April this year.

Watch for more updates on the weeks ahead – have a great weekend!

Sakura Watch, March 12, 2016 – Less snow, more buds was the seen throughout the park as a week of well above seasonal warm weather has all but made snow a mere memory from only a week ago. There are plenty of buds to see throughout the park and I’m happy to say the trees are looking healthy with alot of well formed buds! This bodes well for the weeks ahead as we continue to track the progress.

Many people are asking for predictions on the bloom and every year I try my best to pinpoint the dates by looking at how the buds grow and develop, judging their size, shape, colour and weather conditions are all helpful clues in determining the dates. Its safe to say we are still in the early stages and from what I’ve seen so far its definitely going to be after Easter and so far we are track for a typical bloom to occur in the later weeks of April and early May.

Over the next couple weeks the dates should become more apparent as we have at least a few more comparisons to see how fast the buds are developing so stay tuned for more updates next week!

Sakura Watch 2016 has begun!

With snow on the ground in High Park its much too early to predict, but watch for new updates to begin this week! Warmer weather has been welcomed into the city this March and our tracking will continue to look for any possible positive effects. Could the sunny days and warm breezes speed up the buds process? Time will tell, and of course we will keep everyone updated as we track the progress of the buds – and yes there are a lot of buds so far (photos from this past weekend will be added soon!)

Stay tuned for more…

Sakura Watch, May 10, 2015 – Blossoms on Mother’s Day is a wonderful gift that is sure to be shared by many sakura //cherry blossom enthusiasts today.

LIVE UPDATE 1:17 pm –  rain has stopped, crowds are getting bigger and the trees lining Grenadier Pond have kept most of their bloom! This IS the best place to see blossoms today (see photo above)!

LIVE UPDATE 1:00 pm –  Thunderstorms last night had causes many of the petals to fall but here are a few iPhone photos for a quick preview and glimpse of what to expect at the park right now (currently Sunday afternoon 1:00pm and its raining). Currently the light breeze and rain are making the petals fall – which is actually quite beautiful to watch! Storms in the forecast for later this afternoon so if you have had a chance to see them, now is the time to go – otherwise pack an umbrella!

Full Update:

Mother nature decided to throw a little rain on our Mother’s Day celebrations, but for those who braved the wet weather to visit the sakura // cherry blossoms in the park may have had a mixed bag of emotions depending on where they started their journey through the park.

By the sports fields and High Park main entrance: Always the first to bloom and first to fall, the thunderstorm last night knocked off the majority of blossoms in this area, leaving only about 25% of the bloom left to view.

On the big hill and down the winding path: The largest and most visited area of the park also lost its majority of blossoms last night and left about 20-25% on the trees near the top of the hill and gradually saved more as you went down to the bottom of the winding path to about 50% of the bloom left on some trees.

By Grenadier Pond and the Dock: This was THE BEST spot in the park today to view as the trees are in peak bloom and still looking like 90-100% of the bloom was visible on the trees. Those who kept walking down the path toward the pond were treated to this pleasant surprise and from the crowds I saw today, I think that was nearly all of them!

By the High Park Zoo and Adventure Playground: Always the last to bloom and a concern from past updates, today proved to be the second surprise of the weekend as these trees were also at peak bloom showing 90-100% bloom on all the trees that did develop buds this year. The only downside is there were MUCH LESS to see overall as several of the trees had been cut down over the year and handful of others appear to be either dead or non-producing any buds or blossoms at all.

BONUS – the Akebono trees are getting ready to bloom and something we can look forward to in the weeks ahead.

I hope everyone had a wonderful weekend and all the mothers out there enjoyed their very deserving special day! I’ll update again later this week and hope you all had the chance to visit the sakura // cherry blossoms this year!

Sakura Watch, May 8, 2015 – viewing the cherry blossom bloom at sunrise is a great way to beat the crowds and enjoy the trees under the warm colours of early morning sunlight.

After a couple of live interview segments with Jamie Gutfreund on the CP24 Breakfast show early this morning, I was able to take a few more photos as the sun was starting to rise over the High Park Trail and Hillside Gardens. Surprisingly, even at 7 in the morning, there were already a good number of people out! The usual joggers and boot camp groups were out but it was nice to see many more photographers and blossom enthusiasts of all ages had come out so early to take in the beautiful sights and smells of the peak bloom.

What’s truly unique of taking photos during sunrise, or even sunset, is what the photography terms as the ‘golden hour’ – this is the time where for roughly an hour during early morning and late afternoon when the sun casts golden warm colours which enhance skin tones and soften otherwise stark bright subjects with a softer, and more appealing light. The delicate white petals of the Sakura // Cherry blossoms capture these warmer colours in a way that brings out more of the pinks and deeper details that could seem otherwise washed out in full, bright sunlight.

Of course we can all agree the sakura //cherry blossoms look just downright beautiful in near any light but this takes that beauty to another level and offers one more way to enjoy the flowers before the fall away for another year.

Have a look through the special gallery I posted today that demonstrates the dramatic difference a little warm lighting, and getting up early out of bed, can make while visiting the Sakura in High Park.

Sakura Watch, May 7, 2015 – blossoms are in peak bloom throughout the park as visitors are greeted with trees full of beautiful white cherry blossoms! Crowds have already been making their way to High Park as I saw first hand today and you can expect the weekend will be extremely busy throughout the park.

Best blossom viewing areas

Once again mother nature has chosen to bless some areas with beauty and others with not as much. Here is a breakdown of where to enjoy the blossoms this year:

Best blossom viewing is going to be near the sports fields, Hillside Garden and winding path, and around Grenadier Pond. A few trees in this area have not developed as much as we would hope, but there is plenty of beautiful blossoms to see throughout these areas. The hill and winding path area is always the most crowded but also the most impressive to see – be patient and respectful of others as everyone wants their chance to take photos and enjoy the day.

Trees near the High Park Zoo and Adventure Playground are less then full today and will show some improvement later this weekend. Nearly half the blossoms that would usually bloom have not this year in this area. However, it will be a less crowded area and there are still some good spots to enjoy the blossoms.

Have a look at the extensive gallery uploaded today highlighting many of the good, and not so good, areas of the park to view.

 

Tips for an enjoyable visit

Leave the car at home – if at all possible please consider walking, biking or even taking the TTC to High Park subway station (closest to the park). Parking is limited and always fills up quickly but if you do need to drive in, your alternatives will be to try and find parking on the local streets around the park or the P Pay parking lots at the south end of the park just off of Lakeshore Blvd.

Pack light and be prepared – Toronto is expecting hot, sunny summer temperatures the next few days so its a good idea to have plenty of sunscreen and appropriate clothing. Note there are no bathroom facilities yet open in the park and instead are a collection of portable toilets located in their place.

Take what you bring and leave it how you found it – sakura hanami is all about enjoying a nice picnic under the blossoms and the only thing to ruin such a beautiful sight are piles of garbage around the trees. Please try to bring containers or food that you can take back home with you and help keep the park clean for everyone!

Hope everyone enjoys the amazing weather and their sakura hanami!