April 07, 2012

Sakura dreams: Cherry blossoms at the University of Toronto

Beauty and the Beast at the St. George campus 

White Prunus serrulata Japanese flowering cherry blooms by garden muses: a Toronto gardening blog
Detail of  Prunus serrulata blooms

You would never be fooled into thinking that you were walking along the shore of Tidal Basin in Washington, D.C. or in picnicking in the hanami style in Kyoto but on a crisp spring day with a brilliant blue sky in Toronto, many were marvelling at the sights and smells of 70 cherry trees with heavily laden pure white blossoms. 

And, lucky for you,  I was among them!

Fortunately for the good citizens of Toronto and few University of Toronto undergrads who notice, the Consulate General of Japan donated these and many other flowering cherry trees through the Sakura Project to grace a formerly non-descript pathway. I was on my way to Chinatown with my son for dinner when these "floating clouds" mesmerized me. Knowing how fleeting the scene is and how short-lived the blooms are, I was compelled to return and take many photos.

Allee of flowering Japanese cherries Prunus serrulata in bloom outside of Robarts Library University of Toronto St. George campus by garden muses: a Toronto gardening  blog
Side view of allee

Allee of Prunus serrulata flowering Japanese cherries in bloom outside of Robarts Library by garden muses: a Toronto gardening blog
Looking down the allee 

The path runs diagonally and bisects two roughly triangular pieces of lawn and is beside the University of Toronto's Robarts Library. It is a perfect site for an allee but what types of trees would be suitable? As you know by now, I'm an unrepentant ornamentalist so with the usual caveats of ornamental cherries being short-lived, pest and disease magnets out of the way, of course something beautiful had to be planted!

Above is the view looking south-east. The monster library is situated on the left.

Won't this be incredible once the canopy entwines?

You can imagine that before these trees were planted, this was more or less a runway strip. You just kept your eyes on the ground and bore right through getting to class! Well, I did anyway.

Bees feeding in white Prunus serrulata Japanese flowering cherry blooms by garden muses: a Toronto gardening  blog
Hungry visitors gorging on nectar
Not only was I knocked out by the sheer number of flowers but there was a noticeable scent as well. Bees were everywhere! I wonder where their hives are amid the concrete and asphalt of downtown life?

Ornamental Japanese flowering cherry Prunus serrulata tree bark by garden muses: a Toronto gardening blog
Amazing bark (I'm a bark guy!)

While not every tree had this example of smooth and shiny bark, I wanted to show you another beautiful and under-appreciated aspect of Prunus. This was above the graft and, in fact, all the root stocks had a dull gray matte look to their trunks.

Prunus serrulata Japanese flowering cherry tree blooms in foreground with University of Toronto Robarts Library in background by garden muses: a Toronto gardening blog
Natural beauty vs. Neo-Brutalist architecture

This picture juxtaposes the natural ornamental foreground of the cherry branches with the library in the background. I don't know whether the students call the John P. Robarts Research Library "Fort Book" today but when I was a grad student, oh, 20 years ago, I practically lived in the stacks of this imposing and unfriendly-looking structure. 

The cherries try their best to humanize the space and for a couple of weeks out of the year, they do indeed!

Japanese flowering cherries in bloom allee by garden muses-not another Toronto gardening blog
Allee with Japanese flowering cherries in bloom  


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...