There is something special about the blossoming of flowers on trees. Maybe it is because they are in bloom for a relatively short time. Perhaps it is because the flowers tower above us, making them far more difficult to miss than their earth-bound neighbours. Or it could be that many trees have really spectacular flowers.
Whatever the reason, the blossoming of cherry, almond and plum trees takes on a special significance in many communities around the world as it is a sign of the approaching summer and the imminent crop of fruit or nuts.
The cultural significance of the cherry blossom is perhaps greatest in Japan, where the blossoms begin to appear in Okinawa in January and February before spreading northwards to reach Hokkaido in May. Parks and gardens throughout the country are thronged with people during this period and it becomes a great social event.
In the US, the gift of 3,000 cherry trees from the people of Tokyo in 1912 has led to a similar flocking of people to view the blossom around the Tidal Basin in Washington DC. The blossom here appears at about the same time as it does in central Japan due to both regions having similar climatic conditions. Both are situated on or just offshore the eastern side of a large continental landmass.