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Sakura Watch, May 12, 2017 late bloomers begin with the Akebono / Fugenzo variety of cherry blossom starting to open and have their moment in the sun. While you can still catch a glimpse of a few Yoshino sakura cherry blossoms scattered around the park, they are less the 1% left.

What these blossoms look like

Akebono / Fugenzo blossoms are circular with many layered of large overlapping petals and appear beautifully soft and fluffy. Usually the blooms can be found in lighter pinks and soft white or cream in colour. Their bronze coloured, pointy leaves also help to identify the tree – see examples in the photos above.

Where to find them

There only a handful of these trees in High Park, mostly gathered closer to the lookout dock by Grenadier Pond.  Walk towards the bottom of Cherry Hill to the large yellow Forsythia bush at the base of the Japanese Gardens. Here will be the first grove of 3 trees about 9-10 feet tall. These are always the first to show their blooms and as seen in the photos, a few are out today.

Keep following the paved path towards the lookout dock to find the next grove of Akebono/Fugenzo trees. Located at the base of the big hill with maple leaf garden, you’ll find 6-7 trees spread out in the area. Look for a plaque commemorating the donation of these trees near the bushes between 2 of the trees.

How long will they last

The size and structure of these blossoms help them to last around longer. They can survive heavier rains and winds and really their only threats are animals and people. Since these trees are smaller, with many branched closer to the ground, many find it too tempting to pluck blossoms off the trees. But I ask please don’t pick the flowers – take you photos near them and let them live so others can enjoy them too.

With warmer weather on the way, my prediction is the Akebono / Fugenzo cherry blossoms will bloom between May 14 through to May 24. Peak bloom will vary in each grove but visiting the park between these dates will surely be able to spot them with plenty of open blossoms to enjoy. It is also very possible they will continue to stay in bloom into June – its just a matter of what mother nature has in store.

With this year’s sakura cherry blossom season now winding down, I will only have a few more Sakura Watch updates to share in the coming weeks. But I’m planning on showing some of the other amazing blooms you can also enjoy as well share some other stories soon. Check back here or our social media pages – and I hope all the mother’s have a wonderful Mother’s Day weekend!

Sakura Watch, May 2, 2017 cherry blossoms fall throughout High Park after a few consecutive days of rain and wind shorten the full bloom. While exploring the park this evening, I was walking over carpets of sakura cherry blossom petals that had already fallen.

Peak, full bloom may be done, but blossom are not over

Although the peak, full bloom has ended, there are still plenty of blossom to see before even more rainy days come our way later this week. All the sakura trees were still showing between 30-50% of cherry blossom flowers still intact. So there are plenty of opportunities to catch a glimpse of the delicate, beautiful flowers before they all disappear for another year.

Late bloomers still to come

Of course there are the other variety of sakura blossoms from the Akebono/Fegunzo trees that still waiting to bloom. These trees are always a few weeks behind the other cherry blossoms. These flower tend to be larger, rounder and look more carnation like but are also beautiful to see. Watch for more follow up updates on these in the coming weeks.

Magnificent magnolias and fiery forsythia

As spring continues to slowly warm up we can all look forward to many other plants and flowers throughout High Park to begin to bloom. Two other co-stars of the sakura on Cherry Hill are the one large magnolia tree an bright yellow forsythia bush are both now in full bloom. Always crowd pleasers, many people can be seen enjoying both at the top and bottom of the hill respectively.

Forsythia bushes near the bottom of Cherry Hill

Forsythia bushes near the bottom of Cherry Hill

Magnolia tree near the top  of the Japanese Garden near the top of Cherry Hill

Magnolia tree near the top of the Japanese Garden near the top of Cherry Hill

Last chance

If you haven’t seen the sakura cherry blossoms yet this year and want to catch one last glimpse, go see them now! If the rain and winds forecast for the rest of this week are true then there won’t be much to see at all this coming weekend.

Thanks for visiting and watch for another follow up visit later this week.

Sakura Watch, April 21, 2017 see slow progress with the cherry blossoms as the cool, overcast weather has once again slowed progress. All of the trees in the park are showing clear signs they are days away from opening. All we need are a few sunny, warm days to help them along.

Test in patience

Like so many other cherry blossom loving Torontonians, the wait can seem long and daunting. Mixed with the unpredictability of the weather and you get a recipe for frustration and false hopes. But fear not sakura faithful, the days of pink and white flowers filling the trees in High Park are near. All we need is just a little patience.

Weather art thou cherry blossoms

So more cool cloudy days had come our way instead of the sun forecast. Fingers crossed the rest of the weekend sticks to the plan of sunny days and warmer temperatures to help the florets open up. Looking at the photos in the gallery, you can see all the dark pink florets are extended and are ready to open in a 1-3 days. The brighter the pink tip, the closer they are to turning white and blooming.

The florets with the white petals in the shape of a ball are just a day away from opening. These blossoms are in the final stage and simply waiting for the right conditions to bloom. If the weather forecast for Sunday stays true, then that would be an ideal day to see many more blossoms opening up.

Stay tuned for more updates coming soon! Thanks for visiting and I hope you have a great weekend!

Sakura Watch, May 13, 2016 – Good, bad and lucky blossom news to report today as during a walk through the park on Friday May 13th proved to be truly lucky in helping discover a piece of the puzzle to the mystery – why the blossoms are a no-show in High Park but many buds remain intact! In the weeks ahead you will be able to see this walk – more on that will be posted in a later update.

Good News

Starting off with the good news, it does seem we will soon be seeing the Akebono / Fugenzo cherry blossoms bloom this week. A few are already open and there are a good number of florets fully extended with clearly visible flower petals just waiting to open up. These blossoms are a different variety that tend to bloom in later May and into early June – I like to refer to them as the ‘consolation prize’ or even ‘after party’ of the sakura cherry blossoms where you still get to enjoy beautiful flowers after the main event is over. The photos into today’s gallery help illustrate all the wonderful big blossoms to come!

Bad News

Unfortunately it seems the park, and all its organic inhabitants, just can’t catch a break from Mother Nature! After a few days of nice sunny weather that definitely helped the blossoms along, including my own crab apple blossoms that have magically opened and filled the tree Friday afternoon, is now going to turn back to even more cold, rainy weather this coming weekend! There is even a chance of flurries for Sunday – in May!

The up and down weather continues to play a big part in creating havoc in the development cycle of the sakura trees. Current observations continue to see trees with approximately 60-70% leaves and 30-40% viable buds that don’t seem to be doing anything … well that is until now because a revelation came to light on Friday afternoon – praise the Christmas baby Jesus or other relevant religious deity you believe in!

Lucky News for Friday the 13th

Many believe that Friday the 13th is an unlucky day. I’ve always had the opposite view and believed 13 to be one of my favourite and lucky numbers. So imagine my delighted surprise that near the end of our filming along Spring Road (near the High Park Zoo and Adventure Playground) I discovered something completely exciting and unexpected – sakura cherry blossoms are starting to bloom! The timing is most interesting as mid-May is getting to be the latest I’ve seen sakura cherry blossoms bloom, but they are in fact blooming in a way I have not seen before in that they appear to be jumping or skipping stages and going from bud straight to blossom in a matter of days instead of weeks.

Usually, when predicting blooms I look for the key signs of stages of development that usually follow a set time frame of how long they will take to develop with of course weather and temperature playing its part in how faster or slower they can progress. Key stages 3 & 4 are usually a gradual change that goes over a 2-3 week period and also when the buds are most vulnerable to cold and more dependent on warmer, sunnier days to help move them along to stage 5 and eventually blossoms.

However, its looking like these 2016 buds have grown impatient! Tired of of the constant up and down weather cycles, not knowing whether to come out or stay in, and finally saying ‘Enough! We’re going for it!‘, there are clear signs of blossoms that appear to be almost ‘bursting’ out of the bud into an elongated floret ready to open within a day or so, pending the weather remains warm and sunny – see this example photo here:

Few sakura cherry blossoms are now beginning to burst out of their bud casings by Spring Road in High Park on May 13, 2016

Few sakura cherry blossoms are now beginning to burst out of their bud casings by Spring Road in High Park on May 13, 2016

This could mean we will continue to see sakura cherry blossom clusters or small groupings opening up in the next week or two throughout the park right along side the Akebono / Fugenzo cousins. The flowers will still be sparse and will NOT be as spectacular as a peak bloom event, however they do give us a rare opportunity to at least experience some form of blossoms, even if only a fleeting amount, into the final weeks of spring 2016.

Of course the latest news now adds an exciting twist to the Sakura Watch as I will continue to follow the progress of these new developments and with more updates – come back again early next week for more – stay tuned!

Sakura Watch, May 1, 2016 – Will we see blossoms this year? That’s the troubling question on my mind as walking through the park this weekend showed no progress on bud floral development but instead seeing much more buds growing into leaves.

Usually we should be seeing the buds swell and begin to display their florets (blossom flower petals), but nearly all the sakura cherry blossom buds continue to remain closed and retaining elongated shapes which are usually associated with creating leaves instead of blooms. The significance becomes ever more clear when we look back at 2014 when the blossoms also came out later in May and compare those photos with today. The shape and size of the sakura buds are vastly different as seen in these two photos:

Comparison of bud development from May 1, 2014 and May 1, 2016 by SakurainHighPark.com

Comparison of bud development from May 1, 2014 and May 1, 2016 by SakurainHighPark.com

So now the question remains ‘will we see the sakura cherry blossom bloom this year?’ Short answer, maybe.

Definitely there will not be a full bloom as last year since the later we get into May, the lower become the chances that the trees will be able to develop blossoms. Cooler weather seems to have definitely made an impact and helped cause the buds to stall in their floral development, but this coming week will be crucial to see if any advances into the next stages 3-5 will begin to product the florets. Otherwise, all we may be left with very few, if any, blossoms to enjoy this year at all. This now pushes the current predictions of May 5 out to later, possibly into the following week – lets hope development gets back on track soon!

There Is Hope

The bright side to the current situation is two-fold. First, nearly all other blossoms throughout the park are also late or only beginning which could signal the late bloom is effecting all the plants and trees and not just the sakura cherry blossoms. Even this grand magnolia tree near the Grenandier Cafe is only beginning to show its true colours:

Photos of magnolia tree in High Park, Toronto, shot April 30, 2016 by Steven Joniak - SakurainHighPark.com

Couple view the grand magnolia tree in High Park, Toronto, shot April 30, 2016 by Steven Joniak – SakurainHighPark.com

The other bright point is that the second variety of sakura blossoms, known as the Akebono / Fugenzo, are for the first time in recent years in time with the rest of the sakura cherry blossoms. These trees are usually the later bloomers of late May to early June and are currently showing signs of buds developing into flower in the next few weeks. So it is still quite possible we may see all the sakura blossom varieties blooms together – time will tell whether mother nature is preparing a surprise for us in the weeks ahead. Let’s hope she is. Watch for more updates as now they will become more frequent – stay tuned!

Sakura Watch – April 24, 2016 – Starting to see some buds turn to leaves is a clear sign that the sakura cherry blossom development cycle has been interrupted by the up and down weather we have had this spring. This had happened before in 2014 where the blossoms had bloomed in the second week of May (similar to this year’s prediction) and the trees overall appeared to be more thinned – blossoms mixed with green leaves – offering a less stunning effect then full on blossoming trees.

Photos shot as part of this gallery show some of the buds beginning to allow their green leaves to emerge. Notice the elongated shape of these buds as they differ from what we would expected to see with a healthy sakura cherry blossom bud that tend to be more round and swollen – like a balloon. Now looking back at 2014 the photos from that year do better show what we can expect this year throughout the park.

The only trend that is a bit of concern is that many of the buds are still looking small and closed which may be signals that they too are going to be changing straight to leaves instead of blossoms as the longer we wait and later into May we go waiting for the buds to open up, the less amount of blooming flowers will be seen. Typical blooming times have in the past been starting around this week – late April and ending in early May. However since I’ve started this website in 2012, it has been becoming more and more apparent that each year as the cold weather has been unpredictable and lasting longer into April, the sakura cherry blossom trees have been suffering a bit more because of it.

Let’s hope that this year we do get to enjoy some blossoms sooner then later, and as of today we still to be on track for peak full bloom to occur between May 5-12th, 2016. Stay tuned for more updates to come!

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 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, 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, April 17, 2015 – buds swell and show green tips on the majority of the trees near the sports fields, along the big hill and winding path, and even along Grenadier Pond. Sakura // Cherry Blossom trees near the High Park Zoo and Playground area are the furthest behind with most of their buds being smaller in size and still closed.

The smaller group of Akebono & Fegunzo trees that make up the small grove at the bottom of the main hill in the park – the hill with the large maple leaf design garden – are of course the other variety of Sakura that are always late bloomers and those won’t be starting till later in May and into June.

Now of course everyone is more concerned with the better known white ‘Yoshino’ cherry blossoms and when they will bloom! I’m happy to report that the buds continue to look very healthy and plentiful – see photos taken today that show the larger number of buds to be seen on the branches on the trees this year. Many of the buds are also exposing even more green tips and are continue to grow more swollen with a nice copper brown colour and larger, rounder shape.

All these are great signs that the progress of the Sakura // Cherry Blossoms continue on a positive and healthy path with only a few weeks remaining before we begin to see the first blooms for 2015! Watch for more posts, more often beginning early next week – have a great weekend!