Here Come the Kanzans!

Prunus ‘Kanzan’ courtesy of the U.S. National Arboretum

Just as the ‘Kanzans’ come into bloom, my ‘season’ of cherry blossom talks via Zoom is behind me for 2021. I was thrilled to ‘meet’ so many interesting people virtually, and appreciate everyone’s interest in my favorites, the flowering cherry trees — what they mean to the Japanese, how they came to Washington, D.C., and what some new varieties are today. It seems the feeling was mutual– here’s a comment I was delighted to receive and now thank the anonymous sender: “It was a wonderful presentation. Ann was so personable! I certainly learned a lot.”

About the ‘Kanzans,’ they are not everyone’s favorite variety because the blossoms emerge with the leaves. Still, I like to stand beneath them and look up into their over-arching bowers of fluffy, deep-pink flowers with more than thirty petals to each bloom. Then, when all those ‘Kanzan’ petals fall, the pink “snow” that drifts beneath the trees onto sidewalks and streets is breathtakingly beautiful to me. I hope there are ‘Kanzans’ where you can enjoy them too.

Washington’s Cherry Blossoms at Peak Bloom!

Yoshino blossoms at the U.S. National Arboretum, photo courtesy U.S. National Arboretum

Today’s news is that the famous flowering cherry trees around the Tidal Basin are at peak bloom! They raced through the last blooming stages, thanks to last week’s unusually warm weather, though they’re not expected to stay around long since harsher weather is on the way.
Other news is that Washington Walks is offering several virtual talks on cherry blossom topics: Carolyn Crouch will be speaking on David Fairchild on March 31 and about how the trees came to Washington in 1912 on April 3 and 10, and Diana Parsells will be speaking about Eliza Scidmore, the subject of her forthcoming book, on April 7. Both speakers are excellent – I’m looking forward to the talks!

Have PowerPoints, Will Zoom!

Cherry Blossom Screen by Sakai Hoitsu (1761-1828) from The Metropolitan Museum of Art

This winter, I will be working on my new cherry blossom book, due to be released in early 2022. It will focus on the flowering cherry trees at the U.S. National Arboretum and around the world. I’m excited to share what I’ve learned since my first book came out in 2005.
You don’t need to wait until 2022, however, to learn more about cherry blossoms and/or bonsai and penjing. I’m delighted to give presentations on both subjects via Zoom. Just email me at and we’ll set something up. Look forward to “seeing” you!

My Fifteen Seconds of Fame

A Weeping Cherry at the U.S. National Arboretum, photo courtesy U.S. National Arboretum

Earlier this month, I was speaking with someone on the phone about scheduling a medical test. The conversation went something like this:
She: “Ann McClellan? I know that name.”
Me: “Do you watch WETA?”
She, hesitantly: “Yes.”
Me: “Well, I am a ‘talking head’ in a video they often run each spring about the cherry blossoms in Washington, D.C. Maybe you saw it?”
She: “Oh yes, that’s it! Those blossoms create a traffic nightmare for me.”
Me: “Have you ever been to the Arboretum?”
She: “You mean the place off New York Avenue? I visited just last year when a friend performed in a jazz group there. It is beautiful!”
Me: “Yes, I know, and they have LOTS of flowering cherry trees to see and it’s less crowded than visiting the Tidal Basin.”
She: “Oh, thank you. I’ll go next spring. I hate what those blossoms around the Tidal Basin do to my commute.”

As I write at the end of October, spring might seem far off, but the flowering cherry trees will be blooming before we know it, no matter what. When they do, I’ll be smiling, remembering my 15 seconds of fame, thanks to the delightful scheduler on the other end of the phone.

June already!

American Garden Stamps 2020

In all the chaos and confusion of this very strange spring, I missed the introduction in May of these stamps, honoring American gardens. They highlight some of my favorites like the Brooklyn Botanic Garden,Huntington, Winterthur and Dumbarton Oaks. I look forward to visiting these gardens and others once travel becomes possible again. In the meantime, I hope my snail mail correspondents will enjoy receiving envelopes affixed with these beautiful stamps!

Spring is arriving early!

This beautiful weeping cherry lives across the street from me. While I treasure its beautiful shape all year long, it is most sensational in the spring with its cascades of pink blossoms. Its beauty provides solace in the face of the Covid-19 state of emergency.

Cherry Blossom Season


A Flowering ‘Okame’ cherry blossom from the U.S. National Arboretum

The ‘Okame’ flowering cherry trees are blooming in my neighborhood! They are hybrids, creating by breeding Taiwan flowering cherry trees (Prunus campanulata) with Fuji cherries (Prunus incisa). Whatever their origins, I’m grateful for their pink grace notes in our late winter world, welcome harbingers of spring.

Welcome Fall!

Summer came and went too fast this year because I’m working a new book.  The particulars are under wraps but here’s a sneak peak of an image to entice you!

Photo by Roland Jefferson, courtesy U.S. National Arboretum

Meet Me at the National Arboretum’s Garden Fair & Plant Sale, April 27 & 28!


Fellow author Sandra Moore and I will be participating in the 2019 Garden Fair & Plant Sale at the U.S. National Arboretum on April 27 & 28. Presented by Friends of the National Arboretum (FONA), it’s open to the public from noon to 4 on Saturday and 9 to 4 on Sunday. FONA members enjoy special members-only hours from 9 to noon on Saturday.

Sandy and I will each have copies of our books to sell — hers is The Peace Tree from Hiroshima, a book for children– plus a supply of In Training by photographer Stephen Voss. See you at the Fair!

Camellias before Cherry Blossoms

Camellias bloom before Cherry Blossoms and this one at the National Bonsai & Penjing Museum at the U.S. National Arboretum is at its peak right now. This Japanese Camellia (Camellia japonica (Higo Group) ‘Yamato-nishiki’) has been in training since 1875 and was one of the 53 bonsai given to the U.S. by Japan in 1976.