Metro Morning

High Park cherry blossoms at risk due to cool spring

High Park’s beautiful cherry blossoms will bloom late this year, if at all, says one expert.

Thousands flock to park for annual bloom

Toronto's cold spring could mean High Park's cherry trees produce leaves, not blossoms, this year. (Graeme Roy/Canadian Press)

High Park's beautiful cherry blossoms will bloom late this year, if at all, according to one expert.

Jennifer Halpern, an outreach co-ordinator at the High Park Nature Centre, told CBC Radio's Metro Morning that the cold spring is to blame for the delay.

"Because of the mild winter weather and the cool spring now, we're feeling very certain that we're not going to have such a full show of the cherry blossoms," Halpern said.

She continued by saying many of the buds could turn directly into leaves instead of flowers and there could be far fewer blossoms this year.

"What we are seeing now is the buds are staying very tight. The tips have turned to green, but some of them have not widened, and instead they have elongated, and that's how we know they are turning to leaf."

But not all hope is lost for cherry blossoms in Toronto, she said.

"We still see some that have a chance. We're going to know by mid-next week."

Halpern said the small flowers can bloom between the last week of April and the middle of May, but this year she doesn't expect them to arrive until the end of the first week of May.

At peak bloom, they last between four to 10 days. She said it's an extremely short season.

"We're really getting close to the end of cherry blossom season now."

'Scent of sweetness'

Thousands of people flock to High Park for the annual spring spectacle.

"Well, the blossoms themselves are really pretty. They are very delicate white or pink flowers, with just a hint of yellow, with pollen shoots on the centre. But when you have those in thousands across a grove of cherry trees, it's quite a spectacular show," she said. 

"The whole sky is filled with white and delicate pink flowers. People just love to go there and walk amongst them or picnic underneath the trees. There's just a delicate scent of sweetness in the air."

In 2005, there were very few blossoms. 

The Sakura trees have been in High Park since 1959, when the Japanese ambassador to Canada, Toru Hagiwara, gave them to the city on behalf of the citizens of Tokyo.

Halpern urged residents to check the High Park Nature Centre's website to find out when the flowers will bloom.

"There's no set time. It's all up to nature," she said.

Jennifer Halpern, an administrator at the High Park Nature Centre, says there's still hope for cherry blossoms in Toronto and park staff will know by next week. (CBC)

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