While the warm spring weather has many Maryland residents flocking to Washington DC to visit the National Cherry Blossom Festival, they may be unaware that the same type of Yoshino cherry trees are also blooming in Baltimore City, at Fort McHenry. Nearly 200 cherry trees form two groves on the grounds of the historic star fort. They were originally planted as a civic project to honor George Washington with community service.
In the Winter 2008 issue of Park News, Paul Bitzel wrote that Yoshino cherry trees were planted at Fort McHenry as part of a collaboration between the George Washington Bicentennial Commission and the American Tree Association to honor our first president with living memorials. On October 24, 1931, local school children helped plant one cherry tree for each of Baltimore City’s public schools. The ceremony helped to kick off the local Washington Bicentennial activities.
Over the years some of the trees died and there were gaps in the grove. Despite being adaptive to urban conditions, most Yoshino cherry trees only live to be about 30 to 40 years old. But, in 2006 Fort McHenry personnel restored the trees in the grove and also worked to propagate new trees.
Now is a great time to see the restored cherry tree grove in full bloom. While you do have to pay to go inside the fort, it is free to walk around the grounds of Fort McHenry. It is open seven days a week and hours are posted on the fort’s web site.
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