Sakura Watch, April 28, 2017 finally full bloom throughout High Park for all the sakura cherry blossoms! As originally predicted, this weekend of April 28-30 will be THE peak, full bloom of all blossoms in High Park. This may be be the last chance to enjoy them before forecast rains beginning this Sunday to Tuesday will threaten to knock down most, if not all, the blossom petals.

I took a walk through late this afternoon and posted brief highlights of the key areas on our Facebook page and as noted will go into more detail in this full report below.

By the sports fields

Always the first trees to bloom, today they looked full and fluffy with nearly most of their cherry blossoms intact. There were some blossom petals falling in the breeze but only minor. These trees are favoured as there are many options of low hanging branches that people like to pose inside of or near. If you do this, I ask you to only be careful not to disturb the trees – DON’T PULL, SHAKE OR BREAK THE BRANCHES! Respect the trees and you can still take beautiful photos without hurting them.

Hillside Trail / Cherry Hill

Always the busiest and largest display of blooming trees in High Park, these are ALL also in full bloom. Though some trees are already beginning to show leaves which signals the blossom petals will fall soon, and as you walk down you can already see the grounds dotted with fallen petals.

Grenadier Pond and by the lookout dock

Definitely a beautiful stroll down near the edge of Grenadier Pond will reward you with blooming trees. Most are in full bloom and bright white! These are also starting to fall gently in the breeze, but overall very full and fluffy ‘cloud like’ looking displays to enjoy.

Adventure Playground & High Park Zoo

Finally caught up, these sakura trees are also in full bloom! One stand-out with these cherry blossoms is that since they are the most recent to bloom they still have retained some pink colour mixed in with the white. Another plus is this area seems to be on the other side of the park and not as crowded. If you are bringing children, this would be an ideal place as right across the street you have the Adventure Playground for the kids to enjoy, and then also the High Park Zoo on the other side.

Map and Directions

Wondering where all these areas are and how to get around park? Bookmark my Google map of where the blossoms are in the park here – view Cherry Blossom Map

Reminder that the park will be very busy and parking near impossible unless you can get there early in the morning. Save yourself headaches and frustrations by walking, biking or taking the TTC (directions on routes are also on my map page) and make your visit a more enjoyable one!


Sakura Watch, April 14, 2017 see cherry blossom bloom dates get closer as significant sakura bud development have ramped up to stage 3 and even stage 4 throughout the park. Look at the photos taken Thursday afternoon and we can verify the bloom dates will start even sooner then earlier estimated!

Buds in Stage 3

The vast majority of sakura cherry blossom buds seen as well into the stage 3 of development. You can see round, swollen buds with florets beginning to emerge out from the tips. Also notice the dark pink colours on the sides and tips of the buds which are also healthy signs or progress. According to past year observations, once at this stage the blooms will be approximately 16-21 days away from full bloom. This timeline brings us right into the end of April 28 to early May 6 week for a potential full bloom!

Buds in Stage 4

Most surprising was to see that nearly 10-15% of the buds were already moving into stage 4 of development! Incredibly the sakura cherry blossom buds in this stage had florets partially extended and a few fully extended. Each floret was clearly visible with the telltale sign of deep pink/purple colour which will eventually open up to be blossoms! Most exciting is that buds in this stage usually begin to open up within 6-10 days. This means there is a possible chance that at least a very small percentage of blossoms may begin opening up by next weekend between April 21-23!

More frequent updates to come

So with this amazing Easter weekend surprise, I will be sharing more frequent updates over the next couple weeks. As always is the big factor, the weather still plays a big part in either moving the dates either earlier or later. Keep following this website and our social media pages to know when the best time will be to see and visit. Hope everyone has a safe and Happy Easter long weekend!

Sakura Watch, April 8, 2017 show signs of bud progress as nearly all the sakura cherry blossom trees seen in High Park have entered the second stage of development. Tell tale signs of green tops, bulbous round shapes and bronze coloured layered bases are clear indicators these buds are healthy and continue to grow.

Warmer weather ahead

Yesterday we saw another blast of winter hit us with some snow and cold air temperatures. However when I got to the park the sun had melted any trace of winter. In addition to that is a forecast of warmer weather over the next few weeks which will only help even more. All the sakura cherry blossom trees have had plenty of precipitation to drink from the past couple weeks. So now a we’re looking forward to more sunny, warmer days to help the buds along.

Buds continued development

We’ve seen good progress from the sakura blossom buds over the past week and expect to see even more by the coming Easter weekend. Could we possibly see a jump to the third development stage? Will there be any holiday surprises in store? My next visit will be key in determining the bloom timeline. The continued estimate is still early May for now.

Check back for more updates next week!


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 11, 2016 – Gallery of a few blossoms in High Park that I shot on Monday evening. I’m currently super busy in putting together a work event and won’t have a chance to visit again until this Friday, however after receiving numerous questions I wanted to post this to let people know what to expect in the park.

You will see a few blossoms – but when I say few, I mean very, very few. Expect to see a small cluster on a branch with the rest of tree bare.

What is up with the buds?

The main observation that has truly become a head scratcher is what is happening to the remaining buds on the trees? You see currently it would seem like on average about 60-70% of the trees buds have gone straight to leaf, an extremely small percentage of 1% have created blossoms, but the rest seem completely stagnant with no signs of any changes or growth in the past few weeks. This is highly unusual based on what I’ve seen in years prior and don’t know what to expect until the next few visits to see what is happening.

Something about Magnolias

Another item I feel a need to clarify is these flowers you see below are not cherry blossoms – these are magnolias. These are beautiful flowers, at least 10-20x larger then the average cherry blossom, and come in a few different varieties but the most common are these with the upper white petals and darker deep pink bases.

Magnolia blossoms in bloom in a grand tree near the sakura cherry blossom grove in High Park May 9, 2016

Magnolia blossoms in bloom in a grand tree near the sakura cherry blossom grove in High Park May 9, 2016

Magnolias in bloom in High Park

Magnolias in bloom in High Park in 2016 – photos by Steven Joniak –

I see the media and others online posting photos and declaring ‘the first cherry blossoms are here!’ when in reality its not a cherry blossom at all. The only similarity they share is that they both tend to blossom at the same time. But nonetheless, still go out and enjoy them – just don’t call them cherry blossoms.

Watch for more updates to come this weekend.

Sakura Watch, May 7, 2016 – Only a few blossoms to be seen throughout the park this Mother’s Day weekend in Toronto. Those looking to come out and expecting to see trees filled with delicate white flowers will instead be greeted with a game of ‘where’s the blossom?’ as they wander around the park in hopes of spotting a sakura cherry blossom.

You will be able to see blossoms on the trees but they will be extremely sparse to the point where you would be able to easily count how many are the tree. Upon my latest visit I snapped a few photos showing what you can expect in just how low the numbers are. Leaf fans (the green-on-tree ones, not the hockey ones) will enjoy seeing the daily greening of the trees as well as all other areas of the park as consistent warmer weather seems to finally be settling in, but the timing is unfortunately too late for our beloved blossoms.

Of course we shouldn’t  forget that High Park is a wonderful place to visit on any occasion as there is always something to see and enjoy. From magnolias to water fowl to all types of plants and flowers coming to life everywhere you look, spring time is definitely one of the most vibrant times to enjoy the park. There is far too much ugliness in the world constantly being pushed into our view that sometimes we need to retreat to a place where the beauty of what we tend to take for granted is just waiting to be discovered.

I hope you all take time to enjoy this Mother’s Day weekend and forget about being upset about the lack of blossoms and instead enjoy the few we do have. Isn’t even seeing just one sakura cherry blossom better then seeing none at all?

Have a great weekend and more updates will follow next week.

Sakura Watch, May 4, 2016 – First blossom may be the only one this year to see in High Park. You can begin to point blame at the relentless freezing grip of old man winter, or claim it a result of climate change, or even blame the fear of Donald Trump becoming president scared the sakura blossoms to hide away, but no matter what we say there is no escaping the simple truth that there is nolonger a chance that a bloom of sakura cherry blossom in High Park will be seen in 2016.

No Bloom in 2016

As a result of my latest observations, I’m sadly changing my prediction to now state that there will be no peak bloom to view in High Park in 2016.

Yes I did see the first blossom today, however when I say ‘blossom’, its literally meant as in a single blossom, as in 1 lonely blossom on a tree filled with buds going to leaf. Looking throughout the park all I found was 1 tree with only 1 blossom. The consolation was seeing a small group of blossoms on the trunk of a nearby sakura tree. But unfortunately, every other cherry blossom tree in the park is going straight to leaf. The photos in today’s gallery illustrate the dire strait of bloom-less cherry trees in High Park.

What if we wait a little longer?

The single blossom and tiny cluster seen today were on the trees located between the High Park Zoo and Children’s Adventure Playground. These trees are usually the stragglers and last to bloom of the Somei Yoshino variety of blossoms in the park – the white, delicate, 5 petal flower we all love to see.

This leaves very little chance of any blossoms to bloom elsewhere and in fact I took my time to closely examine various trees and lower branches searching for any sign of advanced stages of floral development but sadly all the buds remain elongated and appear to be going to leaf. This weekend of May 6-8 will be a few days of consecutive good weather and may be the only opportunity for any shy blossoms to come out. But that would be a spring time miracle as no buds are showing any clear sign they are ready go bloom.

What happened?

To some it may be surprising to note this actually did happen before in 2005. That year the weather was bad enough with a late spring cold weather spell that essentially killed any bud growth as they were in the advanced stages of going to bloom. 2016 proved to be such an up and down year that we simply didn’t have enough consecutive warm days to help the trees along – going from cold to warm to cold every few days, essentially confused the trees and shocked the buds. The sakura cherry blossoms are very delicate and when they are stuck in this cycle long enough, they just forget blossoming and let the leaves take over instead.

Is there a bright side?

As evidenced today, and included in my gallery above, are photos showing that this weekend the grand magnolia tree adjacent to the sakura and near the Grenadier Restaurant is definitely in bloom and will be the sole star in High Park for this Mother’s Day weekend. Then there are the other variety of sakura blossoms known as the Akebono and Fugenzo that also seem to be getting close to come out and may even begin this weekend if the warm weather sticks around through to Sunday.

Yes some may consider these only a minor consolation prize to the peak bloom but these trees should also be respected and thankful to know that even in the toughest times there will always be some resilience and beauty to be found in nature. And this year may be a chance to cast some focus on the others who are usually out shawn by the ‘big show’ every year.

So I will continue to check on the sakura before the weekend and will have a next update in the coming days – 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

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

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 -

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

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, 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!