A Misanthrope's Guide to the High Park Cherry Blossoms

Spring has finally arrived! In Toronto, one of the popular things to do is to go see the Sakura cherry blossoms in High Park.

The blossoms themselves are wonderful and they provide hours of photographic inspiration. Photographing the cherry trees during peak bloom is one of the better ways to welcome the return of warmer weather.

However, there is a dark side to visiting High Park during peak bloom...Torontonians (and no, my heart isn't two sizes too small)! To be fair, most folks visiting the park are fine – but some will have you wondering why you spend $2500/month, renting a basement apartment with one window, just to be neighbours.

For those of you who have never ventured to High Park to see the cherry blossoms, I present to you a taxonomy of High Park cherry blossom visitors. You’ll meet all 4 types if ever you succumb to the temptation of visiting on a lovely Spring weekend:

  1. Specials: This group believes it’s their God-given right to climb trees and they’ll be damned if they’re going to take a selfie from the ground. Specials won’t be satisfied until the trees are behind 20-meter high barbed-wire fencing. Specials also come in a more timid variety - Shy Specials. SSs don't climb trees. They prefer to grab, shake and snap branches into whatever angle Instagram demands. Specials and SSs will do whatever it takes to get their photo, even if it means damaging the tree, the blossoms or others' enjoyment of it.
  2. Enforcers: This group of ex-hallway monitors and condo board members have an uncontrollable need to admonish Specials. Their entire time at the park is consumed by the self-imposed responsibility of enforcing the rules - leaving little time to enjoy the blossoms. N.B.: Sadly, Enforcers accomplish very little in terms of protecting the trees as Specials are impervious to shame.
  3. Enforcer Lookie Lous: These folks sit back and try to enjoy the trees, but can't help but be distracted by all the Specials climbing, bending and otherwise damaging trees. This group quietly admire the Enforcers in the park. When ELLs are feeling particularly bold they are known to occasionally mutter something under their breath in the futile hope that it will change anything. They've also been known to write sarcastic blog posts several days after visiting the park.
  4. The Bodhisattvas: This group, somehow, are above it all. Specials - you want to swing from one branch to another? No problem. Enforcers - you want to yell at some Specials? Go a head. EELs - you want to be distracted the whole time you're here? Knock yourselves out. No one is quite sure how the Bodhisattvas do it - but they manage. By following the Eightfold Path, this group manages to truly enjoy the weekend, admiring the High Park Sakura Blossoms... Assholes!

And in spite all this, I find myself drawn back to High Park every spring...But for the love of God – don’t go on the weekend with your car.

Below is a little slideshow that I put together. It shows some of the signs and crowds you can expect by visiting on a weekend. I also couldn't help but catalogue some of the damage to the trees that have happened over the years. All joking aside - they are very delicate plants.


Feature Photograph of the Week – Shanghai Flowers

Shanghai Flowers

This week's Feature Photograph of the Week is Shanghai Flowers. This is from 2016 in Shanghai and can also be found in the gallery.