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Cherry Blossom Festival History Page 2

Cherry Blossoms1909 Mrs. Scidmore decided to try to raise the money required to purchase the cherry trees and then donate the trees to the city. As a matter of course Mrs. Scidmore sent a note to the new First Lady Helen Herron Taft outlining her new plan. First Lady Taft had once lived in Japan and was familiar with the beauty of the flowering cherry trees. Two days later the First Lady responded:

The White House, Washington.

April 7, 1909

Thank you very much for your suggestion about the cherry trees. I have taken the matter up and am promised the trees, but I thought perhaps it would be best to make an avenue of them, extending down to the turn in the road, as the other part (beyond the railroad bridge ‚‚Ed.) is still too rough to do any planting. Of course, they could not reflect in the water, but the effect would be very lovely of the long avenue. Let me know what you think about this.

Sincerely yours,

Helen H. Taft

April 8, the day after Mrs. Taft's letter of April 7, Dr. Jokichi Takamine, the Japanese chemist famous as the discoverer of adrenaline and takadiastase, was in Washington with Mr. Midzuno, Japanese consul in New York and when told that Washington was to have Japanese cherry trees planted along the Speedway, asked whether First Lady Taft would accept a donation of an additional 2,000 trees to fill out the area. Mr. Midzuno thought it was a fine idea and suggested that the trees be given in the name of the city of Tokyo. Dr. Takamine and Mr. Midzuno met with First Lady Taft, who accepted the offer of the 2,000 trees.

April 13, Five days after First Lady Taft's request, the Superintendent of Public Building and Grounds initiated the purchase of 90 Fugnezo Cherry Trees (Prunus serrulata "Fugenzo") from Hoopes Brothers and Thomas Co., West Chester, Pa. The trees were planted along the Potomac River from the present site of the Lincoln Memorial south toward East Potomac Park. After planting it was discovered that the trees were not correctly named. The trees were determined to be the cultivar Shirofugen (Prunus serrulata "Shirofugen") and have since disappeared. NEXT PAGE >>>


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