Prospect Park is blossoming.
A seedling from one of the most famous cherry trees in Japan was ceremonially planted at Prospect Park on Wednesday, April 13.
Part of a gift given to New York City from Tokyo in 2013, the seedling hails from a tree – the Miharu Takizakura tree in Fukushima – that is more than 1,000 years old. It was selected to commemorate Tokyo’s relationship with both New York City and the areas of the Tohoku Region, devastated by natural disasters in 2011.
“The relationship between New York City and Tokyo is a special one, and Parks is proud to be a part of that bond,” said New York City Parks Commissioner Mitchell Silver, FAICP. “Cherry blossom trees are an exquisite reminder of our rich history with Tokyo and of the bright future we have together as sister cities. One of the first signs that spring is coming, they beautify our parks with pops of color. Soon all of the trees from this generous gift to the city will be planted across the five boroughs for every New Yorker to enjoy.”
According to Parks, the weeping cherry tree will grow to be 12 meters tall with “long, gently drooping branches” that grow up to 22 meters long. Although its International Affairs Office accepted the gift on the city’s behalf in 2013, the trees were not present at the ceremony because they had to go through an extensive customs process.
While only one tree has been planted so far, the 30 remaining trees will be planted in roughly two to three years in groups of five or six at one location in each borough. Brooklyn Botanical Garden will host three of the trees.
“The short season when cherry blossoms open up for all to enjoy reminds us to treasure every precious moment, especially those we can share with family and friends,” said Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams. “The planting of these cherry tree seedlings honors the long-standing friendship between New York City and Tokyo, a relationship with deep roots in our borough of Brooklyn.”
“The cherry blossom is a symbolic flower of Japan. To commemorate the century of such exchange via cherry trees, in 2013, the Tokyo government sent New York a gift of Miharu Takizakura seeds to symbolize another century of friendship between our two cities,” added Tokyo’s Governor Yoichi Masuzoe. “The Miharu Takizakura is Japan’s largest weeping cherry tree. It is a majestic tree standing 40 feet high, with a branch spread of over 70 feet. I sincerely hope that the cherry trees born from the tiny seeds inheriting the 1,000 year history of this venerable tree, will thrive and grow into magnificent trees for future generations to enjoy, blossoming for many, many years to come as a symbol of strong bonds of friendship between New York and Tokyo, and of recovery from disaster.”
The tree was planted in the park’s Children’s Corner, Sue Donoghue, president of the Prospect Park Alliance, said, noting that it will “serve as a symbol not only of the friendship between our two cities, but of the continued partnership between the Alliance and the city.
“As they grow, the trees will witness our continued restoration of the surrounding area,” she continued, “so that it remains a popular family destination for generations to come.”