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In Pursuit of the Cherry Blossom

cherry_blossom

Cherry Blossom Time at Kringle Candle

We chose our Cherry Blossom for April’s fragrance of the month to celebrate the start of spring and tuck behind us this year’s long winter. In Japan, the cherry blossom symbolizes the fleeting beauty of life, and April 1 marks the beginning of their fiscal and school year.

Japan’s first sakura (cherry blossom) bloom begins in January and extends through May. Forecasting the flowering of the cherry trees is a big deal. The budding starts in the south and ventures north offering “hanami” when the trees are in their full spectacular garb. The hanami is all about flower viewing, festivals, picnics and parties under the blossomed branches. The hanami custom has spread worldwide with the U.S. holding several festivals, including San Francisco, Denver, Macon (International Cherry Blossom Festival), Washington D.C. (National Cherry Blossom Festival), Philadelphia and Brooklyn.

In 1912 over 3,000 trees were sent to Washington D.C. as a gift/symbol of friendship and thanks from Japan for the Portsmouth Peace Treaty that ended the Russo-Japanese War, and to replace an earlier gifted shipment that had been diseased. Over the years, both countries have worked to preserve the genetic heritage of the 1912 trees with exchanged cuttings and donations. This year marks the 110th anniversary of the 1905 signing of the Portsmouth Peace Treaty. In 2012, the Japan-America Society of New Hampshire received a gift of Japanese cherry trees (grown from cuttings of the original Washington DC trees) as well as other cities around the country, including Boston and Pawtucket. Portsmouth was selected to thank its citizens for their diplomatic role in hosting negotiations at the Portsmouth Naval Shipyard that led to the treaty signing. Earlier, in 1993, Portsmouth’s Japanese sister city – Nichinan – made a gift of a dozen cherry trees that were planted around the tidal basin of South Mill Pond near Portsmouth’s City Hall. Did you know there are 3,750 cherry trees that line the national mall in Washington D.C.? Branch Brook Park in New Jersey (oldest county park in the U.S.) has the largest collection of cherry blossom trees with over 4,000.

The culinary uses of cherry blossoms and leaves (some are toxic) are great and beautiful – creating teas, desserts, soups, etc. The blossoms are pickled in salt.  Although not all cherry trees produce cherries nor do all species have a scent, our Cherry Blossom is a fresh floral and fruit with cherry, cherry blossom, apricot and earthy rose, musk and sandalwood notes. Happy Hanami!