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.


Thank you!

Japanese cherry blossom pinkI got a note from WordPress today that says it’s my two-year blogging anniversary today. I want to say THANK YOU to all who read and follow this blog! I love hearing from you, and I think it’s cool when I’ve posted something that you think is interesting enough to discuss 🙂 Thanks for stopping by and making my day more fun!

two pints of strawberries

I love reading your blogs as well, learning something about your part of the world, seeing the photographs, reading the recipes–and learning more about you! Thanks for sharing, and thanks for being fun and interesting friends!
kite shaped like a bee

C is for Colors of Spring

Spring is finally bringing some color back into the world.

Cherry blossoms, okame

It’s lovely.

Cherry blossoms,

These cherry trees (Prunus x incamp ‘Okame’ cherry) were not only nice to look at, but had a beautiful sound as well.

Cherry blossoms,

They were humming. Filled with bees.

Pink cherry blossoms, okame

As one of the first trees to open in this particular park, it was the place to be if you were a bee.

Pink cherry blossoms

Unfortunately you can’t see them in the photos, but I’ll always remember their soothing sound.

Magnolia flower, pink and white

The magnolia trees were the only other flowering trees that were ready to show off on this particular day.

White and pink magnolia

The sign for this one below listed the name as Magnolia stellata ‘Centennial’ star magnolia

Magnolia tree, magnolia stellata centennial star magnolia

They had some pretty pink stripes on the back of each flower.

Pink stripes on the back of magnolia stellata centennial star magnolia

It’s so nice to have spring here again.


I’m participating in the A to Z Challenge for the month of April. The idea is to post every day, except Sundays, and end up with one post for each letter of the alphabet. It’s a good challenge to help me to blog every day.

A to Z Challenge badge


Photo Challenge: State of Mind

Setting sun on cherry tree branches

This week we’re asked to share a photo and story that tells something about the state of mind we felt when taking the photo.

Mine comes from one evening last April, when I saw the setting sun around the corner of the building. At the top of the frame are branches from an ornamental cherry tree that was very close to blooming. This would be last round of tree blossoms outside, and I was looking forward to seeing one final brilliant display of pink petals.

My state of mind was that I was still happy that last year’s long winter was finally over, and that there were lovely trees and flowers and evening walks again.

Pink or Magenta Flowers: Cee’s Fun Photo Challenge

Hardy mums, chrysanthemum
For Cee’s photo challenge of pink or magenta flowers, here are some of mine. I saw these pink mums this fall and it was the first time I had seen them in this shade of pink.

Pale pink hyacinths in a vase
A similar thing happened recently with these hyacinths. I had never seen them in this pale pink before and I didn’t know they grew in a long-stemmed variety.

Hydrangeas in fall
A third recent discovery of mine is that the hydrangea bush (that’s been outside all the years I’ve been living here) turns pink in the fall. I had never noticed.

Japanese cherry blossom pink
But I always notice the cherry blossoms in spring.

pink tulips bouquet
Sometimes you need to get a flower fix at the grocery store.

Lilly and black eyed Susan's
And sometimes they are growing right outside your door.

pink bleeding hearts flowers
Sometimes they are bleeding hearts

Rose wet with rain next to stem of a cut rose
Or broken hearts.

And sometimes…
pale pink peony

…sometimes they are peonies.
pink peony opening side view

Cherry Abundance

Inside a sour cherry tree
Inside a sour cherry tree

Say what you want about the weather this spring, (it’s been bat-shit crazy!), it produced some excellent cherries. This was only my second year picking my own, and everyone at the orchard said what a terrific crop it was. Last year there were no sour cherries and a limited amount of sweet ones. This year the trees were simply dripping with them.

A row of sour cherries
A row of sour cherries

What did I do with them? I tried making jam for the first time. It came out OK, but I still prefer the brand that I’m used to buying. My jam isn’t sour enough, so I guess next time I would add more lemon juice. I don’t think I’ll do that anytime soon because I’m still getting over the massive amount of sugar that I had to add. I mean, I understand that this is how jam is made, but 6 cups?? It’s a lot to dump in all at once.

Several different types of sweet cherries.
Several different types of sweet cherries.

I made some sour cherry juice that I mixed with some sparkling water to make a little refreshing drink. I froze a few batches of cherry pie mix and hope to test one soon.

Sweet cherries waiting to be picked
Sweet cherries waiting to be picked

For the most part I canned the cherries in an extra light syrup so I have options for using them later.

The cherries back in April
The cherries back in April

This is what the cherry tree rows looked like in April, with the plain white flowers just starting to bloom. Not the prettiest cherry blossoms, but it’s not like these trees had any delicious fruit on them. Or these.

Cherry season is short and sweet. It was a lot of fun and I’m looking forward to picking my favorite fruit again next year.

Canned cherries and cherry jam
This should keep the cherry party going for a while