A whole lot more on the cherry trees of DC ….
The quest to have cherry trees in DC started in earnest in 1908, when Dr. David Fairchild, described as a "plant explorer" and an official at the U.S. Department of Agriculture gave cherry saplings to each school in Washington DC to be planted in their schoolyards on Arbor Day.
In 1909 money was privately raised to purchase cherry trees and donate them to the city. The First Lady, Helen Taft made suggestions of where they should be planted and basically took up the cause…. Dr. Jokichi Takamine, the Japanese chemist who discovered adrenaline and takadiastase was in Washington and when he heard that we were to have Japanese cherry trees he asked Mrs Taft if she would accept a donation of an additional 2,000 trees which would be given in the name of the City of Tokyo. Of course the First Lady agreed.
Ninety Cherry Trees were purchased with donated funds and planted along the Potomac River in April 1909 from the Lincoln Memorial southward. (these trees are no longer there).
On December 10th 1909, 2,000 cherry trees arrived in Seattle from Japan – they were then shipped to DC arriving on Jan 6th 1910. For some reason they were not opened and inspected until January 19th! It was then that the Department of Agriculture discovered that the trees were infested with nematodes and diseased. Presidential permission was sought to burn the trees and on January 28th President William Taft gave his consent and the trees were burnt.
Despite this setback Dr Takamine was still determined that DC should have Japanese cherry trees and so he again donated money and increased the number of trees to 3,020.
The scions for these trees were taken in December 1910 from a collection of trees along the Arakawa River in Adachi Ward (in Tokyo) and grafted onto specially selected understock.
On February 14th, 1912, 3,020 cherry trees from twelve varieties were shipped from Yokohama to Seattle. After arriving in Seattle they were put into insulated freight cars and shipped to DC arriving here on March 26th. And, the first two trees were planted the next day.
In 1934 the District of Columbia Commissioners sponsored a three-day celebration and in 1935 the first "Cherry Blossom Festival" was held.
In 1938 a group of women chained themselves together to protest the removal of cherry trees for the construction of the Thomas Jefferson Memorial.
On December 11th, 1941 four cherry trees were cut down in suspected retaliation for the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor. In an attempt to prevent further damage for the duration of WWII the trees were referred to as "Oriental" flowering cherry trees.
In 1952 the National Park Service donated budwood from the trees to Tokyo to help restore the cherry tree grove along the Arakawa River which had declined during WWII.
On April 1958 a rough stone Japanese Pagoda was presented to the City of Washington by the mayor of Yokohama.
In 1982, 800 cuttings were collected from the Tidal Basin trees, by Japanese horticulturists to retain the genetic characteristics of the trees and to replace trees that had been destroyed in Japan.
Between 1986 and 1988, 676 new cherry trees, financed with private funds were planted to restore the number of trees to the original 3,020.
On June 17th 1997; cuttings were taken from the surviving trees of 1912 and have been documented and preserved at the National Arboretum. These will be used in subsequent replacement plantings to preserve the genetic heritage and lineage of the grove.
Basically the sun will never go down on these Japanese Cherry Blossom trees.