Jacquie’s Corner: Springtime and a New Life

Jacqueline Ruffino-Platt

The flower buds are beginning to show their little heads in all colors, opening their eyes, unfolding their little petals, and sending out the exotic aroma of delicate perfumes. The bushes and trees of the gardenia, rose, lilac, magnolia, jasmine, and orange blossoms showed off their glorious, colorful floral arrangement. While I was living in the area of Washington, D.C., in 1997, a friend knew my intrigue and interest in springtime’s colorful bushes, and we drove to the National Arboretum where these pink, red, white, orange, and fuchsia clusters of petite flowers were exhibited. Azaleas are the names of these incredible growing plants, mostly found in spring and summer temperatures. Here in Arizona, there are similar decorative bushes called bougainvillea in many colors.

I spent many years in Washington, D.C., and when springtime arrived, I was anxious to begin my rounds throughout the area, visiting the Tidal Basin, Grant’s Tomb, statue of Abraham Lincoln, Washington Monument, Capitol Building, White House, Lincoln Memorial, and every street and corner within the area. Beautiful cherry trees were planted and spread around many areas and showed the beauty of this land. These cherry trees originated in 1912 as a gift of friendship to the People of the United States from the People of Japan. In Japan, the flowering cherry tree, or “Sakura,” is an exalted flowering plant. The beauty of the cherry blossom is a potent symbol equated with human life and epitomizes the transformation of Japanese culture throughout the ages.

I continued my rounds and researched how we were so honored with these beautiful blossoms. In an early month of 1941, 3,020 (12 varieties) were shipped from Yokohama onboard the S.S. Awa Maru, bound for Seattle. Upon arrival, they were transferred to insulated freight cars for the shipment to Washington, D.C. The cherry trees arrived in Washington, D.C. On Dec. 11, 1941, four of the cherry trees were cut down in suspected retaliation for the Japanese attack against the U.S. Pacific Fleet at Pearl Harbor, Hawaii. The exact reason for the vandalism never was substantiated. In hopes of preventing future damage during World War II, the trees were referred to as the “Oriental” flowering cherry trees.

1965: The Japanese Government made another generous gift of 3,800 Yoshino trees to a First Lady devoted to the beautification of Washington, Lady Bird Johnson, wife of President Lyndon Baines Johnson. Many of these American-grown are planted on the grounds of the Washington Monument. During March and April in Washington, D.C., the streets, parks, and roadways are overwhelmed with visitors, as well as those living within the Metropolitan area, to visit the Tidal Basin and all surrounding areas to take in the magnificent cherry blossom trees and blooming flowers. A beautiful site to witness.

Springtime in Washington, D.C., was always my favorite time to spend a few hours to visit museums, libraries, flowering gardens, tulip gardens, and, of course, the famous cherry blossoms. If you had a chance to visit the above land with beautiful sights, you know what my words are saying. For those of you who have not had the pleasure of seeing the past, the present, and the future of this great land of ours, make it happen.