Nothing announces the arrival of Spring quite like the blooming of cherry trees. And while you will see a smattering of pink and white as you drive though our towns from Asbury Park to Bay Head, there may not be a better spot than Spring Lake’s Divine Park to see a mass of blooming trees in one spot.
After months of dreary, windy weather and bare branches, it’s finally time for these beautiful trees to strut their stuff. Although it may seem fleeting, cherry blossom season is one of the first welcoming signs of nature’s rebirth. We can predictably count on the blossoms exploding and then returning to dormancy within the span of a month. So, let’s seize the moment and celebrate this amazing feat of nature by taking it all in with a walk through the trees or even a drive by the camera-ready blooms.
Six Things You Likely Don’t Know About These Beautiful Trees
They make fruit
Well, many of them do, anyway. Though these trees were bred for flowers, not fruit, some do produce small cherries, which appear during the summer. They’re too sour for people to eat, but birds like them.
Any given tree may only be in full bloom for about a week
Cherry blossom season usually lasts about a month from the earliest bloomers—this year the ever-blooming cherry—to the latest, usually the ‘Kanzan’. But an individual tree may only be in bloom for a week or two, depending on the weather. Which leads to the excitement we all feel when their buds first begin to “pop”.
They don’t live long
Like their blossoms, flowering cherry trees themselves are short lived – compared to other nonflowering trees. Most live only 30 to 40 years. The Brooklyn Botanic Garden's collection (said to be the largest and most varied in the world) includes some of the oldest specimens in North America. Once a tree starts blooming, it’ll hold its blossoms for about 10 days. But when, exactly, each tree begins to flower depends on a mix of daylight and temperature, which is hard to predict. More on that later.
Flowering cherries actually don’t belong in a traditional Japanese garden
Yes, they do come first to mind when we think of lush cherry blossom orchards but conifers, maples, azaleas, and mosses are all much more common in traditional Japanese gardens, which are created to showcase year-round seasonal interest. In Japan, flowering cherries, are more likely to be planted in parks. It is said that office workers make their interns go out early in the morning with a blanket to stake out a spot under the cherry trees—kind of like movie nights at a Bayonet. Then later everyone shows up with the food and sake.
The blossoms change colors.
Many are dark pink when in bud, lighter pink when they first blossom, and then eventually pale pink or white.
This year aside, they are blooming earlier every year.
Lots of people think this year’s cherry blossoms are “late” since the trees flowered so much later than they did last year. But this year’s bloom times are actually pretty close to what used to be normal. The overall trend is for them to blossom a little earlier each year. That’s due to climate change.
For anyone who passes through Spring Lake at this time in early April, when the blossoms across Divine Park bloom, words like epic, Iconic and quintessential come to mind. Be prepared to witness picturesque footbridges that appear to sweep through the flowering trees - the variety deliberately chosen to boom at different times over a 3–4-week period. A sure indicator that summer is right around the corner.
The history behind the artfully designed Divine Park in the center of Spring Lake has evolved over the years. But most recently we can credit their all-volunteer Shade Tree Committee for the town’s beautiful array of flowering trees. In 2013 the town applied for and received a grant from the State to plant 65 trees and then the Committee added and additional 25 for a total of 90 trees. The variety planted was chosen based upon four distinct flowering trees that line the DC National Mall and surround the Tidal Basin.
The beauty and diversity of 16-acre Divine Park is well-known as an ideal back drop for engagement, wedding, and family photos. A beautifully designed Nature Walk winds around the lake offering the perfect opportunity to view the amazing cherry blossoms and perhaps catch a glimpse of one of the six varieties of birds that make their home throughout the year on and around the water.
Although Spring Lake is the location that immediately comes to mind and with which we are most familiar, you may know of additional places from Asbury Park to Bay Head that are similarly home to these gorgeous trees. Please let us know @theshorebook. We'll add them to the article, let our Instagram followers "in" on their location, and check them out ourselves.
The trees in Divine Park have been freshened up with mulch throughout the park by the rescue mission just yesterday and are set for their not-to-be-missed, camera ready, Spring 2022 debut!