SALT LAKE CITY (ABC4) – Every year in late March through early April, the cherry trees lining a walkway around the Utah State Capitol Building, burst into bloom.
The blooms draw crowds to the Capitol Building as Utahns enjoy the light pink flowers and take Springtime pictures. The trees usually stay in bloom for only a couple weeks depending on weather conditions, according to Utah.gov.
The Memorial Walkway surrounding the Capitol Building features 433 Yoshino cherry trees, the site states. And the trees themselves have an interesting back story.
According to information provided by the Utah State Capitol, the first cherry trees to appear at the Utah State Capitol Building were purchased from a Seattle nursery and planted on Arbor Day in 1931.
Later, in 1945 following World War II, Japan presented Kwanzan cherry trees to the Capitol as a gift and a symbol of reconciliation and friendship.
In 1999, a tornado caused significant damage to or completely destroyed many of the Kwanzan cherry trees. The trees continued to struggle, grew in all directions, and were difficult to manage.
Therefore, during the Utah Capitol Restoration, which occurred from 2004 to 2008, the trees were removed after it was determined that they would not survive being transplanted.
The 433 Yoshino trees currently planted at the Capitol were grown in Portland, Oregon specifically for that purpose. The trees were specifically grafted to have a straight trunk so that the branches would grow out the top and cover the walking path when blooming.
Utah.gov states that in Japan, the blossoms’ short lifespan signify the “impermanence of life.”
Dana Jones, Executive Director works on the Capitol Preservation Board at the Utah State Capitol, says it is touching to hear inquiries from the public each year about when the cherry trees are going to bloom.
“To feel anticipation from others is all but magical. Knowing families plan to capture pictures that will hang in their home or live on their screensaver, that wedding and engagement pictures, individual and senior pictures are scheduled around the blossoming of these beautiful trees. The community is drawn to the Capitol in a different way as the legislative session has ended and the onset of spring is felt. This is one of the true joys our office looks forward to each year,” she tells ABC4.
She says that last year, due to COVID-19, one way signs were placed on the walkway. The signs will also be posted this year. She asks that visitors be mindful and respectful of physical distancing and observing the traffic flow.
“We want people to be safe,” she says.