Prospect Park

The Daily Plant : Monday, April 18, 2016

NYC Parks Joins Japanese Delegates For Ceremonial Planting Of Cherry Blossom Tree Seedling In Prospect Park

NYC Parks Commissioner Mitchell J. Silver, FAICP, last week joined Tokyo’s Governor Yoichi Masuzoe, President of Prospect Park Alliance Sue Donoghue, Commissioner of the Mayor’s Office for International Affairs Penny Abeywardena, local elected officials and Japanese delegates for a ceremonial planting of a Cherry Blossom tree in Prospect Park. The tree is a seedling from one of the three most famous cherry trees in Japan, the Miharu Takizakura tree in Fukushima, whose estimated age is more than 1,000 years old. Its seeds were selected to commemorate Tokyo’s relationship with both the City of New York and the areas of the Tohoku Region devastated by the earthquake and tsunami on March 11, 2011.

The weeping cherry tree seedling will grow to be 12 meters tall with long, gently drooping branches that spread up to 22 meters long. Parks and Prospect Park Alliance staff staked the tree and built a protective fence around it to help support its growth, and a historical sign was placed nearby to convey the tree’s significance.

“The relationship between New York City and Tokyo is a special one, and Parks is proud to be a part of that bond,” said NYC Parks Commissioner Mitchell J. Silver, FAICP. “Cherry Blossom trees are an exquisite reminder of our rich history with Tokyo and of the bright future we have together as sister cities. One of the first signs that spring is coming, they beautify our parks with pops of color. Soon all of the trees from this generous gift to the city will be planted across the five boroughs for every New Yorker to enjoy.”

“The cherry blossom is a symbolic flower of Japan. To commemorate the century of such exchange via cherry trees, in 2013, the Tokyo government sent New York a gift of Miharu Takizakura seeds to symbolize another century of friendship between our two cities,” said Governor Masuzoe. “The Miharu Takizakura is Japan’s largest weeping cherry tree. Located in Miharu town, Fukushima prefecture, it is estimated to be over 1,000 years old. It is a majestic tree standing 40 feet high, with a branch spread of over 70 feet. Its name comes from the fact that the pendulous branches covered with pink blossoms resemble a waterfall. “Taki” in “takizakura”, is Japanese for waterfall. I sincerely hope that the cherry trees born from the tiny seeds inheriting the 1,000 year history of this venerable tree, will thrive and grow into magnificent trees for future generations to enjoy, blossoming for many, many years to come as a symbol of strong bonds of friendship between New York and Tokyo, and of recovery from disaster.”

“We welcome these cherry trees as a beautiful addition to the Park’s Children’s Corner,” said Sue Donoghue, President of the Prospect Park Alliance. “They serve as a symbol not only of the friendship between our two cities, but of the continued partnership between the Alliance and the City. As they grow, the trees will witness our continued restoration of the surrounding area, so that it remains a popular family destination for generations to come.”

"The first cherry trees were given to New York City in 1912 from the Committee of Japanese Residents. Over a hundred years later, I am honored to take part in this ceremony to commemorate New York City’s historic relationship with Tokyo and to celebrate our ongoing efforts to deepen collaboration between our two cities,” said Comissioner of the Mayor’s Office for International Affairs Penny Abeywardena.

For more than a half a century, NYC and Tokyo have worked to deepen their relationship through a variety of initiatives as two of the world’s major cities. The relationship between New York and Japan, however, stretches back much further in time, including the gift in 1912 of cherry trees presented by the Committee of Japanese Residents of New York as part of the Hudson-Fulton Celebration in 1909, and planted in Sakura Park. To mark the centennial of this gift, the Tokyo Metropolitan Government decided in 2013 to again give cherry trees to symbolize another 100 years of friendship.

The seedling planted in Prospect Park is one of the many that were gifted to NYC from Tokyo in 2013. The International Affairs Office accepted the gift on the City’s behalf, but the trees were not present at the ceremony because they had to go through an extensive customs process with the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

By July of 2015, a total of 31 trees were turned over to Parks from the USDA. Parks’ Citywide Nursery repotted the plants and has continued to nurse them until they are healthy enough to be planted in the NYC environment. Though just one has been planted so far, the remaining 30 trees will be planted in approximately two to three years and will be clustered in groups of five to six with one location in each borough. Three of the trees will be planted at the Brooklyn Botanical Garden.

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The Bailey Fountain is turned off in preparation for the plaza's renovation, which is slated to begin in July 2022. Visit the Prospect Park Capital Projects Tracker to learn more about the project.

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