Learning about Pittsburgh’s very own Cherry Blossom groves in North Park has been one of my favorite experiences in my adult Pittsburgh years. I went to college in D.C. so I saw a lot of blossoms. Oh, so many blossoms. Then I moved to Louisiana and saw so many magnolias. I took it all for granted.
Last year, there were many buds, but few blooms. So this year, I put the Facebook page for The Pittsburgh Sakura Project at the top of my feed so I could be sure to know when it was time to dash out to see the blooms.
Friday was the night – there was a post earlier in the week indicating that this weekend was it! So Laura came home from work a bit early (well, okay, she went in at 5:30 AM on Thursday so she had flex time) and we headed out to North Park – about a 30 minute drive for us during rush hour.
When we arrived, we decided to grab a quick dinner at the OTB Bicycle Cafe which is literally next door to the grove. The food is delicious and they use the ‘No Wait’ app to speed up your seating options. There’s a lovely deck and an enclosed porch that look out on the lake. We opted to eat inside because of the chill in the air, but we could still see the lake and the lake critters.
Then we walked across the parking lot and up a muddy hill to check out the trees. I’m not a tree expert, but I would describe them as partially blooming. The branches were filled with beautiful pink and lavender buds and lots of delicate flowers. When you realize what you are seeing, it is impressive.
We wandered around a bit, taking photos and noting the differences between the trees. It was clear that someone was tending to them. The ground is sloped and muddy so I’d urge you to wear sturdy shoes.
This is one of the loveliest spaces in the region. The gentle beauty of these delicate blossoms against the more rugged park greenery is a contrast that is striking if not jarring. It is like the Creator left a handwritten note for us. It would be so easy to miss the blooms as you try to find a parking spot in the lot below or zip along the trail with your iPhone blaring. There’s nothing particularly glorious or stunning about trudging up a muddy hillside to look at some blooms.
Until you do it.
FYI – The Sakura Project hosts the 2016 Cherry Blossom Festival on Saturday, April 30 from 2-4 PM at the Rose Barn.
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