Flowering Cherries at Branch Brook Park
Tuesday, 9 April 2024

I'm off! on a timely visit to Branch Brook Park in Newark, New Jersey. It will be about a 50 mile drive each way, going there and the same again getting home. Why now? Because their Japanese cherry blossom trees are at peak bloom.

With 5,300 flowering cherry trees of 18 different varieties, Branch Brook Park has the largest and
most varied collection in the United States, more than the well known trees of Washington D.C.


The park's 360 acres feature a combination of open meadowland and small patches of woodland
on gently rolling terrain. Nearly four miles long and averaging a quarter mile in width. Away I go!

Traffic was easy, and upon arriving a little over an hour later I decide to first go to the Cherry Blossom Welcome Center, which had been closed last April while undergoing renovations. Place is mobbed! I should have expected it, what with a day of pleasant weather after multiple wet days, plus last Friday's earthquake, and Monday's solar eclipse. But I need to park before I can enter the Welcome Center. Where to park? The parking lot at the Cherry Blossom Welcome Center has an estimated 130 spots with one electric vehicle charging station.

And every spot was filled. I circle, circled again, and again, and on about my fifth circuit
someone gestured they'd be leaving. Put my turn signal on and claimed that spot for my car.

And by the by, it is legal to park anywhere inside the park on both sides of the road behind the white lines. If there is no white line, there is no parking in that location.

Convenient to the parking lot and near where several small passenger buses have taken station

along the curb is a line of porta potties. Clean, but I have learned to bring tissues as toilet paper
may be in short supply. Restrooms may also to be found at the Cherry Blossom Welcome Center.

There is a cherry tree under a skylight. This is a tree that will be perpetually in flower, for it is artificial.
Notice the sign on the back wall. There are souvenir - shirts and mugs and some other things for sale.

The lobby features a mural depicting the history of the cherry blossoms in the park from its beginning in 1927.

There is an ancient tree nearby the center, which looks as if it could have been planted then.

A woman passes by with a pole saw on her shoulder and a trug filled with tools. She pauses

when I query her and explains that she is one of the master gardeners who tend to the thousands
of flowering cherry trees. They work year round, and it takes them five years to complete their tasks.

The Cherry Blossom Welcome Center has the densest collection of trees in the park with some, as I mentioned, dating back to the 1920s. As you drive along, there are signs pointing out "More Cherry Trees Ahead" to encourage further exploration.

The park roads loop around, sometimes passing beneath another roadway. This is Newark

after all, a major city with numerous roads. I appreciate the attractive supporting archway.

The flowering cherry trees are planted in groves, planted as singletons. Some

are upright, others are weeping. Many are pink, numerous others are white.

All are beautiful.

Just outside the park and beautifully visible from within it is a majestic

French Gothic Cathedral Basilica of the Sacred Heart. Built on the highest peak in Newark
the cathedral was built over a 55-year period, beginning in the early twentieth century
on land purchased in 1871 for $60,000. The cathedral may be reached from within the park.

The dainty flowers of the cherry trees are delicate. A breeze, and petals fall like snow.

Transient beauty. Be in the moment and appreciate the fleeting beauty. But also anticipate the turn
of the seasons and the opportunity to return next year for the flowering cherries of Branch Brook Park.

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