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Spring is here and many streets in Mexico City are already adornadas or decorated with the lovely flores de Jacaranda. Spring and the 40 days of lent are distinctly marked by the beautiful violeta flower that blooms until Easter, until it falls and the tree turns green. How did this beautiful tree come to México why are there so many in Mexico City?
Tatsugoro Matsumoto was an imperial gardener in Tokyo who traveled to Perú in the late 19th century to put his talents in jardinería or gardening to use for a particular garden there. On his way to Perú, Matsumoto visited México and was taken back by the care and appreciation people had for flowers. After his work in Perú, the Japanese government sent him to México to work. After working on some gardens there, he decided México was the place for him, and he moved there indefinitely.
Once in México, he started working for wealthy families looking for beautiful gardens for their homes in the famous and prestigious Colonias Condesa and Roma (you can read more about it in the post I wrote about the Oscar winning movie Roma). Matsumoto quickly became famous and even the Mexican president Porfirio Díaz had him design some gardens including those surrounding the Castillo de Chapultepec.
In the early 20th century, Matsumoto together with his son, who had traveled from Japan to help his father with his business, proposed to the government of President Álvaro Obregón an ingenious project: planting the Jacaranda trees in the main avenidas of México to fill the city with color. Matsumoto had brought this beautiful tree from Brazil, and he believed it would bloom for a considerable time in the very dry spring of Mexico City. He was right.
One of the streets where you can really appreciate the Jacarandas is Paseo de la Reforma. This avenue is one of Mexico’s most important and iconic roads connecting the Castillo de Chapultepec to the centro histórico or city center. Emperador Maximiliano from Austria, who ousted the then president Benito Juárez in 1864, had this street designed with inspiration from Champs-Èlysées in Paris. His wanted to feel he was in Europe when he looked out from the castle. Reforma was originally named Paseo de la Emperatriz in honor of Maxmiliano’s cousin, however, after Juárez took back the government from Maximiliano in 1867, it was renamed Paseo de la Reforma.
Many years later, Matsumoto and his son put a splash of color in this iconic street with Jacarandas that are violet in the spring and green the rest of the year.
The video below is from a Mexican radio show where they talk about the history of this iconic tree.
México is still a very religious country and Semana Santa or the week preceding it is quite important. From miércoles de ceniza or Ash Wednesday until Easter Sunday, the Jacaranda trees are in full bloom with many suggesting this is tied to the importance of Easter. Regardless of your religious beliefs, it is definitely an impressive sight to see thanks to the work of Tatsugoro Matsumoto and his son.
If you are considering a visit to México, Easter is perhaps one of the best times. Despite the warmth of the season, the city has a beautiful violet color and you can truly enjoy it thanks to the school holiday when most people flock to the beach.
The video below has some great images of this beautiful tree in Mexico City.
Do you also have Jacarandas in your country? What other spring blooming trees would you say are similar to this beauty?