Sakura Watch, June 2, 2014 – Last blossoms hang on near Grenadier Pond quite literally where today I saw the half of each trees blossoms on the ground while still more were hanging down in all the branches.

I was surprised to still see these blossoms while riding through the park today and stopped to take a few photos with my iPhone (see the gallery above). These blossoms are the Akebono / Fugenzo variety that are much larger and fuller then the more well known yoshino blossoms.

For those still planning on visiting the park this week, look for these trees at the foot of the large hill, also known as Hillside Gardens. The trees are a small group of about 5 trees and are easily identifiable as they are the only trees in the area with blossoms still in bloom. Many of the blooms are even at eye height allowing you to get nice close-up photos and even smell their sweet scents.

Oh, just be careful to watch for the family of geese that seemed to be enjoying the area. Proud pair of parents are happily parading their young ones but hissing at anyone getting too close- especially dogs! But if you treat them respectfully they will walk right beside you – just remember you should not be feeding them white or plain bread as its not good for them.

Getting back to the sakura, all the other cherry blossom trees throughout the park are now fully greened with rich, green leaves. Another more hidden away group of trees that Facebook follower Amy M. pointed out to me recently seemed to be all leaves right now too so I will have to wait until next year to investigate those more closely to see if they are indeed another great place in the park to enjoy the sakura cherry blossoms.

This will be the last Sakura Watch post for 2014 – lets all look forward to next year and hope the weather and trees will be in better sync for us to enjoy!

Thanks for visiting the site, and watch for new features, galleries and other sakura related info in the near future!

Sakura Watch, May 24, 2014 – Akebono / Fugenzo trees are in peak bloom and offer blossom enthusiasts one more chance to enjoy this other variety of sakura flowers.

Recognized for the large palm-sized flower and round, fluffy shape, these blossoms are a sharp contrast to the more delicate 5 petal shaped cherry blossoms most of us know. Due to their size and weight they tend to be hanging and facing downward from the trees. Their colours can vary from a deep pink to bright white and all shade combinations in between.

These blossoms are now in peak bloom and should offer another week of enjoyment before falling off (unless of course we have any strong storms or heavy rains and wind).

Most of the trees can be seen in a small group of 3 trees at the bottom of the winding path near Grenadier Pond. The largest group of 8 trees are located a bit further down the path along the pond including one large tree just past the dock.

The trees can also be recognized by their copper & olive coloured leaves with end in a sharp point and have serrated edges. Their trunks are tall and straight instead of the more twisty branches seen in other yoshino sakura trees. Always the late bloomers, these tend to flower near the same time other trees are blooming throughout the park and walking around you can see many wonderful colours of various blooms in this park this weekend.

So take advantage of this first really gorgeous weekend of 2014 to take in the akebono / fugenzo trees and one last chance to catch another member of the sakura cherry blossom family. There are so many beautiful natural wonders throughout the park to take in, so please remember to respect the trees and wildlife during your visit. Have a great weekend!

Sakura Watch, May 21, 2014 – Blossoms are falling but others are beginning to open, namely the Akebono / Fugenzo sakura which are a different variety and produce a much larger, round and puffy bloom. These usually tend to bloom the week or two after the better known Yoshinio sakura have fallen.

There are only a few of these trees in the park – 3 are located at the bottom of the winding path near the yellow bush and another 5 trees are grouped together at the foot of Hillside Gardens with a commemorative plaque located in the ground between them. These sakura can be spotted due to their copper & green coloured leaves and large, puffy blossoms. I will be posting more of these photos and information in the days and weeks ahead.

As for the rest of the park and the remaining cherry blossoms that we all love to see, there are still a few spots to catch a glimpse of small numbers in the next few days. The best places to see some blossoms are along the winding ‘cherry tree lane’ path down to the pond, but even better are the trees lining the pond – they still have the largest amount of blossoms still left to see.

Then next best spot would be the trees by the playground and zoo as they also have a good percentage of trees still holding on to some blossoms. Here there are also a couple small trees that offer the opportunity for beautiful close-up photos as well – just be careful not to damage these as you can see most of the other smaller trees are heavily damaged and broken. We need to ensure the healthy young trees can survive another year to one day catch up to their bigger siblings!

So if you still wanted to see a few blossoms then don’t hesitate. The longer the rain and storms stay way, the longer the chance you have to catch them one last time before they’re gone!

Sakura Watch, May 16, 2014 – After rain fewer blossoms left to see for the long weekend throughout the park. There was less than normal volume of blossoms this year during peak bloom that only started just a few days ago and the heavy rains yesterday have knocked down many more of the bloom. This long weekend will be the last chance to see the blooms before more rains are expected on Monday/Tuesday. Here is a breakdown of the cherry blossom bloom left to view:

Best volume of cherry blossoms to view:

Tress around along the short path between the playground and zoo are currently the fullest blossom trees in the park this year. Extra bonus is there are two trees along the end of the path that have almost no leaves (see the photo above in the gallery) and is the closest to what we would usually expect to see throughout the rest of the trees in a good year.

Good volume of cherry blossoms to view:

There are a number of trees that are still good to view the remaining blossoms by Hillside Gardens. The trees have nice groups of flowers here and there and also the small trees allow you to get nice and close. The trees that line along Grenadier Pond are especially good in blossom volume including my favourite pair of sakura between the willows overlooking the pond.

Few to little volume of cherry blossoms to view:

There are very little flowers to view in the trees by the sports fields. You can spot a few nice blossoms to shoot in these trees and there are even some good low branches for close-ups.

I wish everyone a fun filled long weekend and hope if you do visit the park that is an enjoyable visit!

Sakura Watch, May 13, 2014 – Peak bloom throughout the park, but less blossoms overall as compared to previous years. The cherry blossoms have opened to over 90-95% per tree and there are only very few buds that remain to open.

However viewers will note that the look of the trees are much less dramatic and impactful as previous years and will see many more leaves on the trees. The winter of 2014 was one of our longest and harshest in many years and this is the toll it has taken on our fragile sakura // cherry blossoms.

This only reinforces how much we should be thankful for the blossoms that did survive as seeing some is still far better then none at all. Here is a breakdown of how the trees look throughout the park:

Near the sports fields / Bloor St main entrance

95% blossoms have bloomed but 60-70% of each tree is showing leaves

These trees are showing the lowest amount of overall blossoms. Blooms look more like scattered snow flakes on the trees, though the two trees by the parking area are the best to see in this area. The upside is many branches are very low and make for easy close-up photo opportunities (just remember to not break or shake the trees).

Trees on either side of road towards the hill

95% blossoms have bloomed but 60-70% of each tree is showing leaves

These trees are also showing very low amount of overall blossoms. These can be seen in pairs and small groups along the road, deeper in the fields and a large single tree on the hill to the left of the road.

Trees along High Park Trail and near Grenadier Pond

90% blossoms have bloomed but 40-50% of each tree is showing leaves

These trees are showing a good amount of blossoms throughout the largest group of trees on the hill and lining Grenadier Pond. The impact overall is less dramatic this year, but there is still a good number to enjoy for as long as they last.

Trees between playground and zoo

95% blossoms have bloomed but 40-50% of each tree is showing leaves

These trees are also showing a good amount of blossoms. The group overall tends to attract smaller crowds then near Grenadier Pond and can be just as enjoyable and beautiful to visit.


How long will the bloom last?

Now that the trees are in peak bloom, the weather is the biggest factor in seeing how long we can keep the enjoying the sakura cherry blossoms before they begin to fall. You may still be able to enjoy the blooms over the long weekend as long as we don’t have any strong winds or rain storms to knock off the blooms this week. As always, I will post more updates throughout the week for the long weekend to help ensure everyone has a chance to visit the sakura this year – stay tuned!

Sakura Watch, May 9, 2014 – Blossoms have begun to open! The long wait for the Sakura // Cherry Blossoms to begin opening has finally happened today in High Park.

Today we see only a handful of open blossoms scattered throughout the park. Currently the best place to see a group of blooms are on the trees that line the right side of the road as you walk/drive towards the trees on the big hill and winding path.

Here is a quick break down of what to see where:

Near the sports fields / Bloor St main entrance – 1% bloom, 50-60% leaves

  • Only a scattered few blooms are open in this area, especially the trees closest to the road.
  • The disappointing side is many tress in this area are showing much more leaves then blossoms opening up. This is a result of the bad winter and we can expect to see scattered blossoms on these trees over the next week.
  • Also, Be warned there are many pests in this area right now as you can see dozens of holes in the ground – I think are yellow jacket wasps so be careful with pets to kids especially in this spot!

Trees on either side of road towards the hill – 2% bloom, 35-40% leaves

  • These are the best spots to see the early openers right now. These trees are only in small groups of 2-3 with some close to the road, others deeper in the woods.
  • One large Sakura is prominent atop a hill of the left side of the road. Most of these trees also show signs of leaf growth instead of blossoms.

Trees along High Park Trail and near Grenadier Pond – 1% bloom, 30-35% leaves

  • Many buds are also still in earlier stages with some of their pink petals starting to show and may take a few more days to open up.
  • Most of the other trees are also showing signs of leaves opening.

Trees between playground and zoo – 1% bloom, 50-60% leaves

  • Only blossom visible are on the trunk of one tree.
  • Many buds are showing big bulbs of pink and white.
  • Many buds have turned to leaves in the trees in this area.

Why so many leaves instead of blossoms this year?

The loss of many blossoms this year is due to the severe cold & prolonged winter which prevented many of the blossom buds to develop and instead promote going straight to leaves instead.

So visitors to the park this weekend will finally have their first glimpse of the sakura – cherry blossoms for Mother’s Day. Their may only be a few to see but the sight will be a welcome one for us all.

Just remember to respect the trees and don’t break or climb them! 

Please respect the Sakura // Cherry Blossoms.

Please respect the Sakura // Cherry Blossoms.

Sakura Watch, May 7, 2014 – Blossoms are now days away from opening as we can now see the bright pink petals beginning to poke through, but still closed tight. Warmer temperatures this weekend will finally help the first blossoms to begin to open and the 2014 Sakura // Cherry Blossom festival can officially begin!

Currently there are a handful of blossoms that I have observed that are just waiting for the right amount of warmth and sun to signal its time to open and share their beauty onto the world. I had hoped it would be start by today because in previous years when a bud became advanced, elongated and shown its pink petal tips, it had then bloomed within 1-2 days. This year, the cool weather keeps continuing to s-l-0-w d-0-w-n the entire process and doubling the time.

Sakura blossoms thrive in consistent warmer high teens and twenties temperatures which the forecast is calling for this weekend. So lets all keep hoping mother nature can co-operate and help things along for this weekend!

As well, I’m now doing daily checks to spot that first blossom – can you guess where the first blossom will bloom? So please continue to hold on to hope and pray with your patience as the day of the bloom finally gets so much nearer. We have had an incredibly trying winter and now its our time to take in the beautiful sights of spring that have long been delayed and sure to be a welcomed by all Torontonians.

Sakura Watch, May 1, 2014 – More buds begin to swell into the next stage with the greatest amount on the Sakura trees located next to Grenadier Pond. Though is an extremely positive sign of the progress there are still many buds that are lagging behind.

Another interesting observation this year is I’m seeing many more elongated buds instead of the more rounded, swelling buds. When comparing to past year photos there is a noticeable difference in the number of buds that swelled versus elongated buds, with this year showing the normal opposite pattern of the elongated thin buds outnumbering the rounder swollen buds.

Hopefully this is only an unusual side effect of our long, cold winter and not the sign of a lower number of blossoms overall. I’ll be keeping a closer watch on these in the next couple weeks to help all of us better understand how the blossom development will evolve in 2014.

Sakura Watch, April 26, 2014 – Sign of buds developing show we are only a couple weeks away from bloom now. Examining the Sakura // Cherry Blossom trees throughout the park this weekend shows each area are showing growth and development and slightly different rates. Here is a report on the main three areas around the park:

Sakura near the Playground and High Park Zoo

The small collection of trees located between the playground and the High Park Zoo are usually a few days behind in the others in the park in blooming, and this year is no exception. We are seeing some green buds developing on the larger mature trees, though still lots of closed buds still can be seen on the trees here. Sadly, the smaller group of trees near the road seem to no be doing well with only a few actually showing any bud development. The sakura trees in this area are seen in photos 1, 2, and 3.

Sakura along Grenadier Pond and Hillside Gardens

The largest grouping of trees in High Park, which also are the true show-stopper when in their beauty for visitors are all on track to be developing into blooms in the next couple weeks in mid May. Many of these cherry blossom trees are now showing many more greening buds versus the still closed ones which bodes well for the blooms to develop. If you look close at some of them, you can see the deep pink colours beginning to evolve into what will so be the first beautiful petal blooms for this spring. With only weeks away now, lets have a look at few branches in photos 4, 5, 6.

Sakura near the sports fields

The Sakura // Cherry Blossom trees that line the sportsfields are usually the earliest to bloom in High Park by about a day or two earlier then the others. Most of the branches are filled of larger, round green buds with a good number showing deep pink tips. These trees are the ones to watch in the park as when they begin to bloom then you know the rest of the park will begin to bloom soon after. Here are a few shots from this area of the park in photos 7,8, 9.

More updates to follow later this week – stay tuned!

Sakura Watch, April 21, 2014 – more green as buds begin to grow and get one more step closer to an early-mid May bloom. A warm Easter weekend have helped a few more buds, especially the ones near the sportsfields. Sakura trees along the hillside and near Grenadier Pond are still being stubborn in showing more growth and green though this will be our warmest week yet – lets hope it helps!

These buds are really beginning to show signs of progress. They’re growing larger, rounder and in some case even begin to stretch out. The green and growing sizes are fantastic signs that the buds are on there way to blossom development. Its still early with at least 2-3 weeks away from a full bloom, but at least now that day seems just a little bit closer.

We’ll see how much more progress can be tracked later this week – for now enjoy the photos taken by my co-blossom-enthusiast and contributor, Sabine aka “Blossom Bean”: