You don’t need to hop on a MARC train or fight the crowds in Washington, D.C., to see cherry blossoms this month. Fort McHenry, in South Baltimore, is the home of two groves of Yoshino cherry trees — the very same kind that surrounds the Tidal Basin in D.C.
Peak bloom — the time when 70% of the blossoms on the tree are open — for the cherry groves at Fort McHenry is estimated to be from March 24-28. It’s about the same time frame as last year, when peak bloom was predicted to be from March 25-28.
Peak bloom at the Tidal Basin in D.C. is projected for just a few days earlier, from March 22-25. And D.C.’s 2023 Cherry Blossom Festival runs March 18-April 16.
Jimmy Hogan, horticulturist at Fort McHenry, said there are about 80 cherry trees at the park in total. There are 33 cherry trees in the west grove and 45 in the east, he said.
“There are not as many trees as there are in D.C., but it is a nice show that they put on,” Hogan said.
Peak bloom is hitting Fort McHenry a bit earlier than previous years, Hogan said. Normally, the trees up in Baltimore bloom around April first — a little later than the ones in D.C.
The trees were first planted in 1931 by 1,500 Baltimore schoolchildren as a way to commemorate the bicentennial of George Washington’s birth, according to the National Park Service. There are two Yoshino groves because of school segregation. The eastern Yoshino grove was planted by Black students and the western grove was planted by white students.
There is no cost to visit the park ground around Fort McHenry, see the cherry blossoms or walk the Sea Wall Trail, which is a 3/4 of a mile paved path along the Patapsco River.
Entering the area of the park that includes the historic fort is $15 for visitors 16 and over. Children 15 and younger are admitted for free. The park grounds and parking lot are open from 9 a.m.-5 p.m., seven days a week.
“The thing I like most about the cherry trees, when they are in full bloom, is that it is a sure sign that the rest of spring is on the way, and the cold temperatures are going to be behind us,” Hogan said. “I definitely prefer the warmer temperatures.”