Victory Park in northeast Pasadena is showcasing beautiful springtime colors this month, thanks to the recent replanting of 25 cherry trees. In late 2021, Pasadena Community Foundation awarded a capital grant to Pasadena Beautiful Foundation to fund the project, which focused on replacing “Pink Cloud” cherry trees, many of which were lost in the last decade to Bacterial Blight, with the hardier “Akebono” variety. Pasadena Beautiful planted the new trees earlier this month.
Pasadena Beautiful past president Emika Darakjy, who currently serves as the president of the California Urban Forests Council, selected the trees for Victory Park. She notes that “the Akebono variety is prevalent in Washington, D.C and Japan. They start with tight pink buds, open to white, and fade to a soft pink. The blossoms tend to hang on the tree longer.”
Besides brightening the park’s paths and expanding Pasadena’s urban canopy, the new cherry trees continue to commemorate our city’s cultural connection to Japan. Beginning in the early 2000s, the Cherry Blossom Festival SoCal donated 500 cherry trees to Pasadena to celebrate the history of Japanese Americans in the Pasadena area. The festival allowed the community at large to come together annually to understand this history. Victory Park hosted the festival in 2003 and 2004 and received a gift of 75 cherry trees. About 50 of those trees continue to thrive in Victory Park. In 2012, additional trees were planted to commemorate the centennial of Washington D.C.’s cherry trees, which were a gift from the Japanese people and the Mayor of Tokyo in 1912. Combined, the new and mature trees create colorful walkways throughout the busy park in northeast Pasadena.