Monday, April 27, 2015

Ashikaga Flower Park

0630 WAKEUP!!!!!  We got places to go and flowers to see!!!!  We were out the door of Hardy Barracks and on our way to Ashikaga Flower Park by 0710. 

They are sweet when they are sleeping
 The first little part of the drive, maybe the first ten miles, was a bit hairy...it's hard to tell on that little itty bitty cell phone app whether I'm supposed to be on the first, second, or third level of a three level road.  But, we found our way out to the expressways and the rest of the 50 miles was easy peasy.  Traffic wasn't bad going in our direction.  We made it to the park just as it opened (0900 open time).  Parking was free, and since we were there right at opening time, we were able to park pretty close to the entrance.  Since it is now peak season for the Wisteria we paid premium prices...1700 Yen each for Kris and I, and 800 Yen each for the kids.  

This was our welcoming committee for the park....cute little pink flowers.  :)


The beautiful Fuji!

I don't think I can adequately describe the amazing smells in this park!  The sweet, delicate flowery smell of the wisteria was breathtaking!  It wasn't like walking into a flower shop and being overwhelmed with the perfumes of the flowers.  I think the light breeze helped the scents gently wander through the paths and up and down the hills.  

I didn't get a shot of it, but there is a tunnel about 80 meters long that has yellow wisteria on it.  It wasn't in bloom (probably why I didn't take a picture).  Apparently, the yellow is the last to bloom, somewhere around the second or third week of May and it signals the end of the wisteria season.


The Azaleas were amazing!!!  They lined the paths around the park and covered the hills up into the trees.  So colorful and thick with flowers!


I have a couple hundred shots of the azaleas.  They were just so vibrantly colored!  There were some bushes that had red, pink and white all in one!  This lead to some of the flowers being white with pink or red splotches.



Thank you!  To the gentleman who offered to take this shot for us, prompting with a "Cheesu", and his wife standing behind him reminding us that, hey, this is Japan and you have to put up your peace sign!  Mackenzie said her eyes hurt too bad from the sun to see what the wife was telling us to do.  :)


Shiro Fuji - White wisteria is one of the last to bloom of the five types of wisteria in this park

Many of the white wisteria weren't in bloom yet.  Maybe a handful out of a few dozen white trees were ready.

More azalea

And more...

Mackenzie said this was her favorite azalea color.

See the wisteria hanging from the trellis?  That all connects to the one trunk you can just see in the center of the purple.  There is over 1,000 meters squared of trellised wisteria in the park, all coming from four trees donated from the city of Ashikaga to the park in 2004.

I think these are tulips



Close up of the wisteria.

I think these daisies were my favorite flowers of the park.  They were pure perfection!


Calla lilies

Murasaki Fuji (purple wisteria) is the second type of wisteria tree in the park to bloom.


Purple trellis wisteria
At night the parks lights up the flowers.  The wisteria looks magical with the lights.  They had pictures of the trellis lit up in the park, we didn't stay until 8 pm to see that.


This picture of the wisteria is actually under an arched trellis.  So, it's like walking under a giant purple flower rainbow.



Pink wisteria bridge (usubeni fuji - light pink wisteria, the first of the five different types of wisteria in this park to bloom.
There are four trunks making up the pink bridge...one at each corner of the bridge ends.

Yae kokuryu - double petaled black dragon wisteria

This is a rare form of wisteria...double petal.  They are very dark purple.  This wisteria tree didn't seem as thick as the others.  It looked like it was pretty much full bloom, so I'm not sure if it's just a really old tree that doesn't produce as many blooms anymore or if it just naturally produces less.





After a quick restroom break, we hopped into the shop and bought a couple wisteria flavored ice cream cones.  Garytt and I liked them a lot.  Kris and Mackenzie opted not to have cones.  


We saw a few flower arrangements in the center of the park.




Purple wisteria wall

White wisteria waterfall



One last look at the azalea hill before we head out of the park.

We were back in the car around 1100 and on our way out of town.  We made it back to the house around 1330, after a quick trip to the commissary for dinner stuff.  The drive was pretty easy.  I think we paid 5000 Yen in tolls on the way home.

I think most of the park is in full bloom.  I imagine the white wisteria will be in bloom by early next week, maybe even late this week.  But, with Golden Week making a start on Thursday I figured we'd better make the trip now before the whole park wasn't in any kind of bloom.  Glad we dropped everything and made a last minute decision to head up this way!

A clouded view of Sky Tree on our way home