Monday, April 6, 2009

Now It's Our Turn For Cherry Blossoms

Who says DC has to have all the fun?

We like cherry blossoms, too. Check out this site for a whole host of events -- including restaurant discounts, garden tours and philanthropic efforts -- scheduled this month to celebrate cherry blossoms and the arrival of spring.

Here's an explanation of the effort, from the county's Web site:

In 2003 Howard County’s Office of Tourism proposed a tree planting program that would beautify the county’s attractions, its parks and its roadways with Kwanzan cherry trees. The project was inspired by Washington D.C.’s annual tidal basin spectacular and designed to capitalize on the blossom-mania that descends each year in the neighboring Capital. With Howard County’s Kwanzan cherries blooming two weeks later than D.C.’s Sakura trees, tourism officials hoped that cherry tree enthusiasts would extend their viewing pleasure by taking a quick trip just 30 minutes just down the road to visit Howard County. The goal was 1,000 cherry trees in the ground at select locations in five years.

Equally important as the beautification component of the proposal was the desire for the project to also give back to the community in a meaningful way. The trees would also be used to both raise awareness of breast cancer prevention each spring and raise money to benefit those within the community coping with cancer.

The concept was taken to former Howard County Executive Jim Robey who agreed to champion the project and also provide resources from within both the Department of Recreation & Parks and The Department of Public Works to kick start the initiative on public lands. Thus Blossoms of Hope… the Howard County Cherry Tree Project began.

Four Years Later, thanks to BLOSSOMS OF HOPE...

* 219 Blossom of Hope trees now grow in 18 different groves planted on public land in Howard County. Over half of the trees have been sponsored and six of the groves are fully sponsored. The groves range in size from five to 26 trees and are located at county libraries, local parks, historic attractions, as well as the county office building in Ellicott City, the seat of local government.
* Over 300 Blossoms of Hope Trees have been planted along State & County roadways.
* 50 additional Blossoms of Hope Trees have been planted on open space in Columbia.
* Corporate partners have planted over 300 of the trees on private properties
* Individual homeowners have planted 65 new Blossoms of Hope trees in yards across the county as a result of the programs bi-yearly, residential tree sale that began in 2006.

Overall, approximately 1,275 new trees are now blossoming across Howard County as a result of Blossoms of Hope… the Howard County Cherry Tree Project ! AND…

Over $50,000 has been contributed to the Howard Hospital Foundation earmarked for Claudia Mayer Cancer Resource and Image Center,, a special place that helps individuals and their families cope with cancer. AND…

CHERRYBRATION, a new outdoors spring festival that celebrates the blossoming of the trees premiered in 2007 to further promote the important role that nature and outdoor activity has to individual wellness.

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