From April 1 to 29, Brooklyn Botanic Garden (BBG) celebrates Hanami, the Japanese cultural tradition of experiencing each moment of the cherry blossom season, from the first buds to the full canopy to the multitudes of falling blossoms blanketing the ground.
In Japan, long-established customs associated with Hanami include strolling among the trees and capturing falling cherry petals in open palms. Brooklyn Botanic Garden is the United States’ finest site to experience Hanami, with more Japanese flowering cherries in one place, and a more diverse collection of cherry cultivars, than anywhere in the world outside Japan.
During the Hanami season, visitors to BBG can enjoy several highlights inspired by its collection of over 220 flowering cherry trees:
Free Hanami tours (Saturdays and Sundays at 3 p.m.) focusing on BBG’s Japanese plant collections and specialty gardens, including the cherries, the C.V. Starr Bonsai Museum, and the Tree Peony Collection.
• Meet the Curator session with Chris Roddick, senior arborist
• Selection of special Japanese menu items at BBG’s Zagat-rated Terrace Café
• The Hanami Collection at BBG’s Gift Shop (both on-site and online atshop.bbg.org), featuring handpicked items inspired by the Garden’s blossoms and Japanese aesthetics
The cherry display will be tracked in real time on BBG’s web-based CherryWatch feature, which maps the entire collection and provides daily blooming updates. A perennially popular subject for photographers both amateur and professional, the Garden also encourages all visitors to share their cherry blossom images in its Hanami photo pool on Flickr.
The four weeks of Hanami culminate in the Garden’s legendary weekend festival Sakura Matsuri—popularly referred to as “New York’s rite of spring” and the nation’s largest event in a public garden. Conceived as a thrilling tribute to the Garden’s iconic display, Sakura Matsuri is scheduled for April 28 and 29, from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. each day, with over 60 performances, demonstrations, and exhibits—many of which are specially commissioned for this dynamic celebration. More information will be available at bbg.org/sakuramatsuri.
For more information on Hanami and Brooklyn Botanic Garden’s cherry blossoms, please visit bbg.org/discover/cherries.
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Lia Chang is an actor, a performance and fine art botanical photographer, and an award-winning multi-platform journalist.