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40 years in the making: University awaiting blossoming gift from overseas

Good News with 13

ATHENS, OHIO (WOWK) — The first official day of spring came this past weekend, and now we are starting to see signs of Mother Nature waking up again across our region.

In Athens, they are awaiting a special awakening of local blooms.  

“The biggest thing is just the contrast of… no leaves, things are still not real green and then just all of a sudden it’s just this brilliant, brilliant white,” says Scott Isphording, an assistant football coach at Ohio University.

On Ohio University’s campus, this is a special time of year for a very special blossom.

“These are Yoshino Cherries. The grove stretches all the way down the bike path, along the Hocking River to O’Bleness Hospital,” says Susan Calhoun, a landscape coordinator for Ohio University’s grounds department.

It’s no ordinary grove of cherry trees:

“These trees were donated by our longstanding and strategic partner Chubu University in Japan in 1979,” says Ji-Yeung Jang, the interim executive director of Global Affairs at Ohio University.

175 cherry trees were a gift from their Japanese partners to commemorate the university’s 175th anniversary. Then in 2003, ahead of Ohio University’s bicentennial:

“Chubu University made yet another donation of over 100 cherry trees,” Jang says.

For many faculty and staff, the blossoming trees symbolize the result of a vibrant global partnership when cared for and cultivated.  

“Cherry trees require a lot of handling, right? Somebody has to take care of it, they have to water it and look after it and prune it, and so it takes a lot of time and energy and patience, but boy! Once they bloom, beautiful…symbolic of our relationship that we have with Chubu University,” Jang says.

For others, the views are the main attraction.

“It looks like they snow! It is a spectacular time of year,” Isphording says.

Even though these buds are not quite open yet, experts say we can expect to see them bloom soon.

“I think within a day or two this side will be starting to open,” Calhoun says.

If you want to take a trip to go see the buds open in the next couple of days, the university has a website where they post daily updates. You can visit that page here.

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