Cherry blossom tour canceled

From: Alan Campbell, on behalf of the Leelanau Conservancy, Leelanau Conservation District and the Leelanau Enterprise.

We are forced to cancel the 2010 Cherry Blossoms tour. The reason is that Cherry Blossoms will arrive in Leelanau County much sooner than anyone could have realistically planned for. We have very few options excluding trying to move the tour to Saturday, May 1. But we ran into too many logistical problems with moving the event ahead two weeks. We had originally set the tour for Saturday, May 15 — smack dab in the middle of cherry blossom season, at least by historical terms.

But the spring of 2010 has been one for the record books. Right now at the Northwest Michigan Horticultural Research Station, cherry bud development is about three weeks ahead of schedule, with mild temperatures predicted for the rest of the week. We could move the tour ahead one week and still completely miss the blossom season.
We have always said that the tour is all about cherry blossoms. Without them, we cannot have a tour. We have thoroughly enjoyed sharing the beauty of the area with others, and introducing many to their first cherry farms in full bloom. Orchardists, too, have extended their hands, explaining their trade and offering first-hand accounts of the business of cherry growing.

Thanks go out to those who have worked with us by helping to promote and plan for the 2010 tour, including the staff of the hort station, Suttons Bay Public Schools for reserving buses, and the Grand Traverse Band for graciously offering use of the Eagles Ridge Conference Center for the May 8 date. We looked at moving the tour ahead one week and north in search of blossoms, but were still left with the probability that we would miss them.
We are already looking ahead to the 2011 tour, and plan to learn from this experience. We expect to set two or possibly three dates for the tour next year, and wait until closer to bloom before making a final determination. And we need to find a way, possibly through a separate website, to publicize the progress of cherry buds toward blooms as the date approaches.

We remain convinced that the cherry blossom season is the one jewel of Leelanau County and northwest Michigan that is underutilized and under publicized. This area should be crawling with Blossom Peepers. There is no prettier place in the world than the back roads of Leelanau County at full cherry bloom.

We need to tell people about it. Please forward us your suggestions.
For 2010, however, our emphasis has changed to damage control. Please help us inform as many people as possible that the blossom tour has been cancelled due to the expected historical early bloom. The last thing we want to do is leave people unhappy about beautiful cherry blossoms.

Also help us inform bloom lovers that they’ll need to set their calendars ahead two weeks or so to view Leelanau’s beautiful blooms. For many of us, it’s the greatest show on earth. Although we won’t be there to guide them, we encourage participation in any form.

Photo credit: The road less traveled by PrincessDoodleBeans Boutique

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