- The Washington Times - Wednesday, March 14, 2012

The peak bloom time for the District’s cherry blossoms will come a week earlier than expected because of warm nights in the forecast, National Park Service officials said Wednesday.

The peak bloom period is now expected to begin March 18, Park Service chief horticulturist Robert DeFeo said. The peak bloom date — when the blush-colored blossoms are at their fullest — will fall between March 20 and March 23.

“Instead of slowing down at night, [the blooms] are still moving,” Mr. DeFeo said. “And there is no cold coming to slow them down.”

According to the Park Service, extreme weather has caused bloom dates as early as March 15 and as late as April 18. The average peak bloom date is April 4.

Mr. DeFeo earlier this month predicted a bloom period between March 24 and March 31 because of the mild winter.

National Cherry Blossom Festival spokeswoman Danielle Piacente said the early arrival of the blooms won’t have an affect on the centennial celebration, which runs March 20 to April 27 and marks 100 years since the District received 3,000 trees as a gift from Japan.

“Of course we would love for people to enjoy the blossoms as long as possible,” she said, “but the bloom is up to Mother Nature.

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