Our First Ladies and Washington, DC's Cherry Blossoms

When the winter has been just right, not too cold and not too warm; not too long but just long enough. And when Jack Frost keeps his distance with due respect, Mid-March in Washington, DC is gloriously beautiful! All because of the cherry trees that line the Tidal Basin along the Potomac River.

First Lady Helen Taft

First Lady Helen Taft

In a simple ceremony on March 27, 1912, First Lady Helen Taft, wife of President William Howard Taft ( 27th President of the United States) and Viscountess Chinda, wife of the Japanese Ambassador to the United States, planted two cherry trees, a gift from Japan, on the north bank of the Tidal Basin in West Potomac Park. The gift included more than 3,000 cherry trees and was presented to the city of Washington, DC from the Mayor of Tokyo, to celebrate friendship between the two cities. 

Since Mrs. Taft’s involvement with the cherry trees, subsequent First Ladies have all followed suit:

  • First Lady Mamie Eisenhower crowned the Cherry Blossom Queen in 1953.
  • First Lady Betty Ford invited the Cherry Blossom Princesses to the White House in 1976.
  • First Lady Lady Bird Johnson accepted 3,800 Yoshino trees from the government of Japan and held a tree planting reenactment in 1965.
  • First Lady Hillary Clinton took part in a tree planting ceremony in 1999.
  • First Lady Laura Bush greeted guests with remarks at the Opening Ceremony in 2001. 
  • Honorary Chair First Lady Michelle Obama was involved in 2012, planting a cherry tree in the city’s West Potomac Park.

Today the festival welcomes more than 1 million people with events taking place over four weeks.

So when Mercury aligns with Mars --- Don’t miss the cherry blossoms in Washington, DC!

Thank you, Mrs. Taft!


Cherry Blossom Festival 2018

March 17 – April 15, 2018 (Cherry Blossom Parade April 14, 2018)


More Resources

For the full backstory --- https://www.nps.gov/subjects/cherryblossom/history-of-the-cherry-trees.htm