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Cherry Blossoms Bloom in Central Park

By Amy Zimmer | April 27, 2011 3:33pm

By Amy Zimmer

DNAinfo News Editor

UPPER EAST SIDE — The city’s most famous Cherry Blossom Festival may be at the Brooklyn Botanic Garden, but Manhattanites don't have to leave their borough to see the delicate pink and white flowers.

An estimated 500 of the Japanese trees are in full bloom in Central Park.

"I think [the Central Park's cherry blossoms] are becoming more known," said Neil Calvanese, the Central Park Conservancy's vice president for operations. "You can definitely see an uptick in interest."

The Yoshino cherry trees, which can be spotted, for instance, around the bridal path at 90th Street and along the East Drive at 66th Street, are the earliest flowering cherries — and most delicate-looking with five petals — with pink buds that turn paler as they bloom.

"They are wonderful puffs of white and pink," Calvanese said. "I always say they look like clouds in this gray landscape."

The rosy pink Kwanzan cherry blossoms begin to steal the show from the Yoshinos this time of year. Calvanese's favorite spot for cherry blossom viewing is of the Kwanzans on the east side of the boathouse. They're also along the East Drive at 79th Street, at Cherry Hill and along the west side of the reservoir.

"They're just peaking right now and shouldn't be missed," Calvanese said.

There is also a small grove of Yoshino cherry trees around the reservoir, which may include the original cherry blossoms gifted to New York by Japan in 1912, Calvanese said.

Cherry trees don't have a very long lifespan. They tend to live for roughly 50 years, Calvanese explained, which is why the Central Park Conservancy has added many new cherry trees in recent years. One spot full of new blossoms, he said, is from 84th to 90th streets along the east side.

"They're not going to last too long and you always want the next generation, so we're really doing a lot of cherry planting," Calvanese said. "People enjoy them."

Would Central Park consider throwing its own cherry blossom festival?

"Yes, maybe we should do some kind of festival. We should start thinking about it," Calvanese said. "Our flowering trees are pretty spectacular."

On Roosevelt Island this Saturday, residents will be dedicating a grove of cherry blossom trees in an act of solidarity with the people of Japan.

The Roosevelt Island Residents Association, along with the Japanese Association of Roosevelt Island and other groups, are hosting the fundraiser, which will include Japanese-themed food, drinks and music to raise money for the Japan Society's Earthquake Relief Fund.

Roosevelt Island's Cherry Blossom Festival and Cherry Blossom Grove Dedication, Saturday, Apr. 30th, 1 - 3 p.m. at the West Promenade across from the subway station