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 blooms 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 cherries 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
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|
|2016||Data deficient (did not bloom at all)|
|Year||Date of Peak Bloom|
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 does not apply
- Primarily operates as a trailhead to the Cootes Paradise North Shore trails
- A $10 parking flat rate applies when the parking lot is staffed (weekends). 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.
|Single Garden Admission||$10 / person
(Age 3 and under FREE)
See your membership level for number of visitors included
Prices include HST. $1/ticket service fee applies to admission. Children age 3 and under are free.
|$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 6th to May 28th. 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.
The Arboretum is open daily during bloom season from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. (2023 dates: May 6 to June 1)
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.
Smaller groupings of trees are also located in Rock Garden, and Laking Garden.
Find these visitor favourites outside of the Rock Garden Visitor Centre, and a few individuals south of the parking lot.
- 1185 York Boulevard, Hamilton
- Open year-round
- Admission: Garden admission applies. Free with RBG Membership.
- Parking: FREE, available on site
Find individual sakura trees scattered throughout the terraces at Laking Garden, overlooking Grindstone Creek.
- 1221 Spring Gardens Road, Burlington
- Opens for the season May 5
- Admission: Garden admission applies. Free with RBG Membership.
- Parking: $3/hr to a maximum of $15. Free with an RBG Member parking pass.
What’s in Bloom?
Blooms are ever-changing in RBG’s five 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
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
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
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.
More to Do, Naturally
Other Major Collections
As a botanical garden, Royal Botanical Gardens acquires, collects, researches, exhibits, conserves and interprets a living horticultural collection.
Plants of interest are ever-changing in RBG’s five 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 each season.
Discover what’s happening in the gardens! Some programs, events, and experiences listed below are included in general admission / membership, while others require separate registration.