It was a beautiful bright afternoon, when I shut down my work computer Thursday at 5pm, when I put my walking shoes on for a bonus round in the park around the corner (we’d already walked there at lunch).
As we came out onto the sidewalk, under the first white blossoms on the trees on our block of Market St., we made a snap decision. We could make it to the Branch Brook cherry trees and back in time to teach my 7pm Arabic class, right…?
Best Blossom Festivals
Here’s a little known fact: New Jersey has more cherry trees than Washington D.C. … more than 2,700 Japanese cherry blossom trees…. The park first adopted a pink and white hue in 1927, when Caroline Bamburger Fuld donated 2,000 cherry blossom trees to the Essex County Parks system in memory of her late husband.
Branch Brook Park also holds the distinction of being the first county park in the United States opened to the public, it was designed by the famed landscape architectural firm of Olmsted Brothers, a successor to Frederick Law Olmsted, the designer of Central Park in New York City.Cherry Blossom Festival, Branch Brook Park
This year, of course, the cherry blossom festival has new urgency for us, because: pandemic, and because of all we’ve learned about New Jersey in the last year exploring the parks, and especially Branch Brook, and because this is our last spring here on the East Coast for at least five years.
It was still early for blossoms that day, the trees more buds than blooms, but there were enough cherries, forsythia, daffodils and other flowers to underscore that spring had certainly arrived.
It was a lovely opportunity for a short walk a smidge farther from home than Mulberry Commons across the street … and if you’re wondering, we got back with five minutes to spare before my Arabic class!
While I was out of state, clearing (most of) the rest of my belongings out of Mom’s attic prior to our move to Arizona, my partner took some time off from selling all our furniture out from under us to take some photos of the cherries in full bloom.
On our way home from Maine, we stopped one more time to catch the trailing edge of the cherry blossom season, and while some of the blooms were past, we weren’t disappointed with what remained.
I’m going to miss that oh-so-European view of the cathedral rising above the gardens of Branch Brook Park.
Seeing the blossoms at Branch Brook also alerted us to a new theme in our city of Newark. If you know what you’re looking at, there are cherry trees spread all over the city that we had never paused to take note of before!