Blooming time is the subject. Claire wrote the festival to ask when she should visit in April to see the most blossoms. Helen wrote to ask when to have her wedding photos taken with the ‘Kanzan’ trees in bloom in Sutcliffe Park. In our infancy (four years ago), we thought it pretty useful to group the ornamental cherries by five blooming periods, identified in Douglas Justice’s Ornamental Cherries in Vancouver book asFebruary bloom March bloom early April bloom mid-April bloom late April and May bloom In a book, you can’t get more specific than to define general blooming periods. We’ve been just ignoring the fact that last year the February bloomers came and went in January and March bloomers were similarly a month early. The previous year, the March bloomers waited until April. What the March bloomers didn’t seem to do was bloom in March. I don’t remember whose bright idea it was to have blooming dates on our new interactive map. If it was mine, I blame a friend who said it would have been really helpful on our old map to see what was blooming now. We decided to try to tie in “now” to the current date, and compare that to blooming dates assigned to all the cultivars. Never mind that we couldn’t get the months right – now we were going to specify dates. It seemed necessary to take into account the neighbourhood in which the trees are growing: consider blooming time in the West End, a low-lying dense downtown location with a lot of high-rises, and though a lot of front yard grass and boulevard trees compared with most cities, still a higher percentage of heat absorbing concrete to heat up the place; and the neighbourhood of Riley Park, which includes Queen Elizabeth Park, the highest spot in the city. There is as much as two or three weeks difference in blooming dates for the same cultivar in those two neighbourhoods. The more specific we got, the more it stayed approximate. In the West End, within one mile at about the same elevation, the ‘Accolade’ in one location are at least a week ahead of those in the other location. Anyway, I recorded the dates from all our postings for each cultivar, each neighbourhood, then extrapolated the dates for the cultivars not reported in the neighbourhoods. That gave three years’ worth of data. Then the next trick – which year’s data do I start with? I was told this would be a cold, late year, so I went with 2009 dates. It turns out that 2011 is a late year, but not a very late year. So far, I’ve moved a lot of the dates up by three weeks. Thank goodness our map whiz Jonathan Wang provided a tool that lets me change the start and stop dates for any or all cultivars in any or all neighbourhoods by either moving them ahead or back some number of days or by specifying the dates to be used. That’s my favourite time-saver tool ever. But that makes the data reporting and collection even more important. I get very few reports when cultivars have finished blooming, and I’ve not kept track myself, so I’ve really learned very little about how long the blooming period is for the different cultivars. And surely that varies by year as well – if it’s still cool, the flowers last longer. Which is to say, I can use all the help I can get. We have a lot of the trees identified now on the map – over 600 locations. And those have all been reported on these forums. It should be not too difficult for new scouts to learn the cultivar name of most of the trees they see. What I need to see reported in the Neighbourhood Blogs is the date the cultivars come into bloom and the date they’re no longer worth a trip to see. Here's what's in bloom or coming into bloom now, by the way: 'Autumnalis' and 'Autumnalis Rosea', 'Whitcomb', 'Accolade' and 'Beni-shidare'. Thanks to scouts Anne, Emily and Dingren/Martin for the photos - the date, location, cultivar and photographers' names are in the photo names - mouse over the photos to see that info.