Red petals

Bench on the high line in NYC with fallen red petalsOur old spot on the High Line

It’s covered in red petals

Pieces of my heart

N is for Newark’s Cherry Blossoms #AtoZChallenge

Cherry Blossoms, overcast skyWhat is the first thing that comes to mind when you think of Newark, New Jersey? The airport, maybe? It probably isn’t the home of the nation’s largest collection of cherry blossoms, and yet that can be found in good old Newark.

Cherry Blossoms and Bridge at branch Brook Park Newark NJ

Branch Brook Park, listed on both the New Jersey (1980) and National (1981) Registers of Historic Places, is home to more than 4,000 cherry trees, according to the park’s website.

Cherry blossoms in suns

The park began in 1865, when the city, along with the newly created Essex County Park Commission, made plans to transform a former Civil War Army training ground into public use as a park. This became the nation’s first county park.

White Cherry Blossoms near water

Donations from wealthy families expanded the park in the following years. The cherry trees were a gift from the Mrs. Felix Fuld family in 1927.

Cherry Blossom welcome center sign at branch Brook Park

I was lucky to visit during peak blooming, and I spent several lovely hours viewing the cherry blossoms.

Pink Cherry Blossoms and tree trunk

F is for Flowers Freezing #AtoZChallenge

Cherry Blossoms covered in snow
Snowy cherry blossoms

We had a warm streak in early March that lasted long enough to trick the early flowering trees into blossoming. Too soon, little flowers, too soon. The snow stuck around for a day or two, followed soon by another storm with much colder temperatures and more snow.

Finally, a month after this photo was taken, the time was right for the trees to begin opening.

It seems that weather patterns have been disrupted lately. Winters are not predictable as they once were, turning into a mixture of a heat wave one week and an arctic blast the next.

Plum tree blossoms with snow on branches
Snowy plum tree blossoms

These trees that I photographed are decorative—planted in my neighborhood to look pretty and not to provide food. But these same erratic weather patterns are affecting and will continue to affect our fruit trees, other crops, and food supply. For example, fruit and nut trees need a certain amount of cold weather, or “chill hours,” in winter in order to produce fruit during the growing season. Peach farmers in Georgia are expecting an even worse year than last year’s crop yield, in part due to record low amounts of chilling hours.

Let’s hope we can stop climate change before we run out of food.

 

C is for Cherry Blossoms Opening #AtoZChallenge

Pink cherry blossom on tree branch with blue sky
Plum blossom?

The flowering trees are beginning to open in my neighborhood. One of my favorite times of year.

This cherry tree is always one of the first to bloom. Except I’ve just been doing a little research, and it might not be a cherry tree after all. I think it’s actually a plum tree called, confusingly, a black cherry plum, or Prunus cerasifera ‘Nigra’. The photos on this tree nursery site seem to match up.

I read today that cherry trees always have green leaves, and the leaves on this tree are always a dark maroon. Maybe it’s not a cherry tree after all.

I have been trying to identify the neighborhood’s various flowering trees for a few years, but never with much luck or perseverance. It’s easy to call them all cherry blossoms, but I sometimes strive to be more accurate. There are two that I think are more likely crabapples, and now I think this might actually be a plum. It doesn’t really matter because they all bring me joy with their flowers. It’s just fun to have a few mysteries to solve each spring.