Saturday, March 30, 2013

Cherry Blossoms in Newark

Washington D.C. is famous for the thousands of cherry trees sent there as a gift from Japan (101 years ago, before the World Wars) as a gesture of friendship. But it is far less known that Branch Brook Park in Newark, New Jersey has more cherry trees than Washington D.C.  Every spring, residents and visitors can see the largest cherry blossom collection in the United States there.

Branch Brook Park, which runs through Belleville and Newark, has more than 2,700 Japanese cherry blossom trees that burst into full bloom during the annual Cherry Blossom Festival that features various events for visitors of all ages.

Bloomfest for 2013 is on Sunday, April 14 from 11am – 5pm at the Cherry Blossom Visitor’s Center in the park and is free.

In 1927, Caroline Bamburger Fuld donated 2,000 cherry blossom trees to the Essex County Parks system in memory of her late husband. There are now more than 4,300 cherry trees (600 more than D.C.).

Branch Brook Park is historically unique for being the first county park in the United States opened to the public. It was designed by the famed landscape architectural firm of Olmsted Brothers, a successor to Frederick Law Olmsted, the designer of Central Park in New York City.

Believe what you will about climate change, but the trees are blooming earlier the past few years. In fact, New Jersey's plant hardiness zone was changed in 2011 based on the warmer winters. In 2012, they started blooming around March 5. In 2010, after a warm spell at the end of March, the trees bloomed by April 1st. The National Park Service reported last year that the D.C. cherry blossoms peaked on March 20th (the third earliest since record keeping began in 1921).

So, it's not too early to think about a visit to the park on a nice, spring day!

Essex County Parks festival information
Branch Brook Park website
Branch Brook Park Alliance



GET TO THE CHERRY BLOSSOMS

By Car
You may use the intersection of “Clifton Avenue and Seventh Avenue” for Internet mapping or GPS.

From New Jersey: Take Route 280 East to First Street/Exit 13. Turn left onto First Street. Turn right onto Orange Street. Turn left onto Clifton Avenue. Park will be on the left.

From New York: George Washington Bridge or Lincoln Tunnel to New Jersey Turnpike South. Take Exit 15W for Route 280 West. Take Exit 14. Turn right onto Clifton Avenue. Follow above directions.


View Larger Map or get Driving Directions via Google Maps

By Train/Subway
Take NJ Transit or PATH Trains to Newark Penn Station. Board the Newark Light Rail toward either Branch Brook Park or Grove Street. For the Southern and Middle Divisions, exit at Park Avenue. Exit at Bloomfield Avenue to reach the Northern and Middle Divisions; the Northern Division is also accessible from the Davenport Avenue stop. The Branch Brook Park stop provides access to the Extension.

By Bus

A variety of bus routes provides services to Branch Brook Park. These include NJ Transit's bus lines #11. #27, #28, #29, #41, #72, #74, #90, #92, #93, #99 and #108. For schedule information, call 1-800-772-22221-800-772-2222 or visit www.njtransit.com.

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