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Laking Garden reduced hours Saturday June 15: Laking Garden will be closing at 2 p.m. for a special event. Hendrie Park / Rock Garden remain fully open until 8 p.m.

Flowering Cherry at RBG

Flowering Cherry (Sakura) Collection

Peak Interest: late April or early May
Arboretum, Rock Garden, Laking Garden

Flowering cherry trees grace RBG’s gardens with typically white or pink flowered blossoms and have an ephemeral grace and beauty shared by no other type of plant. These trees which at peak bloom look like clouds of pink and white are one the most welcome signs that spring has finally sprung!

At RBG, our flowering cherry blossoms are part of our early spring celebrations. Globally, flowering cherry trees have a long history especially in Japan where the cherry blossoms are celebrated each year. Every year flowering times are recorded and noted and this has occurred for around the past 1300 years. RBG also annually records the flowering times of its Cherries as part of a biological science known as phenology which is an important tool in helping to track climate change.

In 2010, we added 34 trees to this collection donated to RBG as part of the Sakura Project. These trees are planted at both the Arboretum and Rock Garden sites and are a must see in early spring.

Flowering Cherry Bloom Watch

Check back for updates as the flowering cherry collection comes into bloom

Flowering Cherry Collection

Current status: Finished blooming for the season.

Historic Bloom Dates at the Arboretum

Note: bloom dates can vary drastically from year to year. Check back for our “bloom watch” updates.

Year Date of Peak Bloom
2023 April 19
2022 May 7
2021 April 23
2020 May 8
2019 May 10
2018 May 7
2017 April 25
2016 Data deficient (did not bloom at all)
Year Date of Peak Bloom
2015 May 2
2014 May 14
2013 April 30
2012 April 4
2011 May 11
2010 April 10
2009 April 27
  • Large Sakura Flowering Cherry Trees In Bloom
  • Butterfly On Cherry Blossom
  • Flowering Cherry Blossoms Against Sky
  • Bench With Small Flowering Cherry Blossom Trees In Bloom
  • Grouping Of Flowering Cherry Blossoms On Branches

Plan Your Visit to the Cherry Blossoms

The Arboretum (16 Old Guelph Road, Hamilton) holds the majority of RBG’s Flowering Cherry collection.

PLEASE NOTE: Parking capacity at the Arboretum is very limited; during peak hours it is likely we will not be able to accommodate all who wish to visit. Should the lot be full upon your arrival, we recommend checking out the flowering cherry trees at Rock Garden; see below for more information.

Admission

Parking

  • A $10 parking flat rate applies when the parking lot is staffed. Metered parking is in effect beyond staffed hours, $5/hr to a maximum of $15.
  • Parking is FREE to RBG members with a RBG parking pass

Admission and parking required during peak bloom season. Parking at the Arboretum is very limited; pre-purchase your time-ticketed parking to avoid disappointment.

Admission Tickets

Ticket Type Price
Single Garden Admission $10 / person
(Age 2 and under FREE)
RBG Members FREE
See your membership level for number of visitors included

Prices subject to HST. Children age 2 and under are free.

Parking Reservations

Parking Type Price
Arboretum Parking
(time-ticketed)
$10 (Free for RBG Members)
Space is very limited; please pre-book online
Shuttle from RBG Centre
(available weekends only)
Free with admission or membership
Requires pre-purchased admission or membership to ride. See details below.

About the Shuttle

The shuttle will pick up outside RBG Centre, located at 680 Plains Road W. Burlington ON.

Admission tickets are required to board the RBG shuttle (scanned before boarding). Pre-purchase your admission online, or at RBG Centre upon arrival.

Shuttle departure times: The Shuttle bus runs weekends only, May 11 to May 26. The Shuttle bus will leave RBG Centre and the Arboretum every 20 minutes. The first shuttle will start at RBG Centre at 10:15 a.m. and the last shuttle bus leaves the Arboretum at 7:30 p.m.

Parking at the Arboretum

Parking at the Arboretum is very limited. Timed-ticketing parking will be in place to help decrease traffic and improve the safety of all visitors.

If you plan on parking at the Arboretum, we recommend starting with your online parking reservation to ensure the date / time you wish to join us is available before adding your admission to your cart.

Parking remains free for RBG members displaying their membership card and parking pass, however members should also pre-book their parking to avoid disappointment as spaces during peak bloom will fill up quickly.

The Arboretum is located at 16 Old Guelph Road, Hamilton ON.

Arboretum Hours

The Arboretum is open daily during bloom season from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. (2024 dates: May 9 to 31)

Your time-ticketed parking indicates your arrival window; we ask visitors limit their visit to 2 hours to allow space for other visitors to see the blooms.

The weekend shuttle runs from 10:15 a.m. to 7:30 p.m. See exact departure times in the “about the shuttle” section above.

The Flowering Cherry collection is located just south of the Lilac Dell at the Arboretum. See the #5 location on the map below.

Illustrated map of the arboretum indicating areas of interest and trails
1: Katie Osborne Lilac Collection, 2: Magnolia Collections East and West, 3: Dogwood and Redbud, 4: Crabapple Collection, 5: Flowering Cherries, 6: Avenues of Trees, 7: Toni Carson Shrub Collection, 8: The Pinetum

Other Locations

Smaller groupings of trees are also located in Rock Garden, and Laking Garden.

Rock Garden

Find these visitor favourites outside of the Rock Garden Visitor Centre, and a few individuals south of the parking lot.

Laking Garden

Find individual sakura trees scattered throughout the terraces at Laking Garden, overlooking Grindstone Creek.

What’s in Bloom?

Blooms are ever-changing in RBG’s four cultivated garden areas and nature sanctuaries. Check back to learn what’s blooming now or see the blooms calendar for a rough estimation of what to expect in a particular season.

Virtual Sakura Tours

About Flowering Cherries

Flowering cherries are deciduous trees with showy, ornamental flowers in spring, oval serrated leaves, with many species or cultivars having good fall colour. Some cultivars are also appreciated for having highly ornamental bark. When planting cherries select a location with full sun and that is open and airy.

Cherries can be prone to wind damage and frost cracking in severe winters so a sheltered site is also advisable. A south or southwest facing situation is ideal. Cherries should be planted in fertile, well-drained soil, rich in organic matter. Many garden cultivars are adaptable to a wide range of soils but avoid planting on heavy clay soils. Pruning techniques should only ever be employed to remove dead, diseased, rubbing or crossing wood. In general cherries are fast growing and in tree terms fairly short lived. Some cultivars may not live beyond 50 years in age

Prunus ‘Accolade’

One of the most iconic spring sights at RBG is the flowering cherry circle in the Arboretum. The trees planted in this circle are Prunus ‘Accolade’ and were accessioned in 1966. P. ‘Accolade’ is a spectacular pink semi-double flowered cultivar that has achieved the Royal Horticultural Society (RHS) Award of Garden Merit (AGM). These trees look most spectacular when viewed against the backdrop of a pure blue sky as the blue provides a stunning contrast to the pink flowers. In some years the additional presence of the moon during the daytime adds extra drama to this spectacular scene. Once the flowers begin to fade and fall the surrounding grassy area looks like it is covered in pink confetti. Prunus ‘Accolade’ is also a bee magnet so a great choice to include in a wild life garden

Prunus ‘Asagi’

Perhaps the most unusual flowering cherry in the RBG collection is located in the grassy knoll at the back of the Rock Garden Parking lot. Prunus ‘Asagi’ is a very rare tree both in Japan and in the West. Asagi translates as “shallow yellow” in relation to the flower colour and it is precisely this trait that makes this cultivar so curious. Most flowering cherries are white or pink whereas this plant has pale greenish yellow flowers which is what makes this cultivar so unusual. Conservation of rare plants such as this is one of the many critical roles undertaken globally by botanical gardens. Saving and securing botanical diversity for the future benefit of all species including our own is critical for the health of our planet.

Colour and Shape

The colour of cherry flower petals can vary considerably with the colour of the same flower changing from first emergence through maturity to blossom fall. Typically flowers are darker in bud becoming paler as they age and expand. Seasonal conditions, climate and soil type can also all have an influence on the annual colour of flowers. Cherry flowers are divided into four different groups which are based upon the number of petals. Whilst nature isn’t always perfect and variations occur as a rule;

  • Single flowers have five petals
  • Semi-double flowers have between 10 and 20 petals
  • Double flowers have from 25 to 50 petals
  • Chrysanthemum flowered cherries have more than 100 petals
  • Cluster Of Cherry Blossoms Against Bark
  • Grouping Of Flowering Cherry Blossoms On Branches
  • Green Flowering Cherry Blossoms
  • White Cherry Blossoms Against Sky
  • Large Bunch Of Flowering Cherry Blossoms On Branch

Japanese Flowering Cherries

The Japanese flowering cherries within RBG’s collection are some of most treasured and appreciated of these trees. These cultivars have been bred for centuries in Japan and play a hugely important role in Japanese society and culture. During cherry blossom time huge festivals are held as Japanese people hold parties and celebrations. The Japanese name the flowering cherry sakura and the art and celebration of viewing sakura is known as hanami (flower viewing) during day time and yozakura (night sakura) at night time. The short lived flowers are particularly important in Japanese culture as a symbol of the ephemeral and impermanent nature of life. The period of blossom fall is particularly important to Zen shrines around Japan where time is devoted to considering the beauty and still quiet of the falling petals. Cherry trees are often planted outside public buildings and schools and as flowering time occurs in April sakura are often associated with start of the financial and school year. By displaying plants from around the world botanical gardens play a rich role in celebrating the different cultural diversity of people from around the world. Look for the RHS AGM cultivars ‘Shirofugen’ ‘Kojo-no-mai’ ‘Ichyo’ ‘Kanzan’ and ‘Miyako’ and have a very happy hanami!

The scientific name for flowering cherries is Prunus. The genus Prunus is in the Rosaceae or rose family. This family not only includes roses and flowering cherries but other notable ornamental plants such as Chaenomeles (Flowering Quince), Crataegus (Hawthorn) Fragaria (Strawberry), Malus (Crab apple) and Pyrus (Pear). As well as flowering cherries the genus Prunus also encapsulates plums, peaches, apricots and almonds. The Rosaceae family, as a result is one of the most economically important crop families.

Support Horticulture at RBG

The care and growth of our horticultural collections are possible thanks to the generous support of RBG Members and donors. With a donation to Growing up Green, you can ensure an active, vibrant and healthy future for the children of today and tomorrow through our horticultural and conservation projects.

Royal Botanical Gardens (RBG) is the largest botanical garden in Canada, a National Historic Site, and registered charitable organization with a mandate to bring together people, plants and nature.