Mexican President wanted cherry trees.
It was 1930, and President Pascual Ortiz Rubio had seen them lining the streets of Washington and desired the same beautiful spectacle for his country’s capital.
To try to fulfill the leader’s request, the Japanese Ministry of Foreign Affairs tapped Tatsugoro Matsumoto, a Japanese immigrant who tended the gardens of Chapultepec, then the presidential residence in Mexico City. According to an expert gardener, it was not warm enough for cherries to blossom in capital’s winters. The president wouldn’t get his hanami, the flower-contemplation ritual the Japanese celebrate every spring.
We are not talking about a pink one.
The Mexican capital is not suitable for cherries, so another tree with bright flowers could be a good alternative: jacarandas.
Matsumoto had advised another president that jacarandas be planted in the city. But those were the post-revolutionary years when there were few government resources to spend on beautifying Mexico’s capital, according to Sergio HernándezA researcher at the National Institute of Anthropology and History.
History has blurred some details of the president’s request and its execution, but today the jacarandas stand tall among the city’s greenery, a lush canopy heralding spring’s arrival.
Mexico City residents have been enjoying jacaranda season for nearly 100 years: a “fascinating sorcery” that brings a little bit of the Amazon rainforest to urbanites’ doorstep, as Alberto Ruy Sánchez wrote in his 2019 book “Dicen las Jacarandas.” When the flowers are gone, “the sky blooms on the ground,” an unexpected burst of color at one’s feet.
Each spring, millions of people stroll around the country’s capital under an explosion of purple flowers. Each spring, the colorful fronds signal that it’s time to enjoy the warm season and walk on a fine rug of lavender petals. Come out and play, the jacarandas whisper with an inflection that’s both foreign and familiar.
“I was told this tree always creates hope,” Alma Basilio, a psychologist, poses for a selfie under the blossoms with a friend “The jacaranda is kindness.”
Jacarandas are actually not native to Mexico: The name comes from Guaraní, an Indigenous language spoken mainly in Paraguay and the tree has its origin in the Amazon.
These trees are deciduous, which means they shed their foliage each year when it turns cold enough. Their bare, twisted branches become brimming with blooms when the temperatures rise.
“Boom! Immediately, not progressively, the whole tree is full of flowers,” said José Luis López Robledo, an arborist who runs a nursery garden near Mexico City.
Anthocyanins are a pigment found in black beans, sweet potatoes, dahlias and berries that gives the flowers their purple-blue color. When most of the planet was concerned about pandemic survival in 2021 jacaranda was Mexican forecast company named it a “trend color”.
“The color jacaranda is an omen for a rebirth,” Trendo.mx, Trendo.mx, described the color as being between amethyst & mauve, similar to periwinkle.
Mr. Matsumoto, the man responsible for the purple spring was the first Japanese immigrant to come to Latin America in a free state. This was at a time when most Asian immigrants from Asia arrived in Latin America either as indentured slaves or as contract labor to provide cheap labor to plantations and mines.
Mr. Matsumoto’s Mexican immigration card says he arrived in 1896, and listed “gardener” As his occupation. But in Japan, he was in fact a trained landscape architect who had served the imperial palace, Mr. Hernández explained.
Matsumoto traveled to the Americas at the request of a Peruvian entrepreneur in 1888. He wanted a Japanese garden on his property.
“From his faraway native land, the artist brought by ship beautiful plants,” A Peruvian book on the house where the garden was constructed is read. A Mexican mining businessman hired him shortly after seeing his work in Lima.
Mr. Matsumoto would eventually become a wealthy entrepreneur who served several Mexican presidents: from the French-loving Porfirio Díaz to the revolutionary Álvaro Obregón and the nationalist Lázaro Cárdenas. Matsumoto’s flower shop, which was opened in 1898 by the Japanese entrepreneur, introduced elaborate floral arrangements to high society. It also created bouquets that were used by Mexican film stars during the golden era.
In recent years, Mr. Matsumoto’s talents with flora have made him something of a local pop icon, a quiet hero. But Mr. Hernández, who has documented extensively Mr. Matsumoto’s trajectory, points out he was much more than that.
He didn’t introduce the jacarandas to Mexico — some may have already been growing in the wild — as much as domesticate them. He didn’t just suggest a more appropriate tree for the weather in the Mexican capital: He outfitted its streets with an aesthetic vision that resurfaces every spring.
“Matsumoto was a merchant of landscapes,” said Mr. Hernández.
In a city of old trees and crooked sidewalks, jacarandas are good tenants: Their roots tend to grow downward — instead of to the sides — and leave the urban infrastructure almost untouched. They can grow up to 80 feet tall, making them a nuisance for electric wires and a target for utility company tree trimmers.
Recent years have seen jacarandas also draw detractors. “Controversy Blooms Over Jacarandas,” This month, read this article According to the experts, exotic species may cause disruption in local ecosystems.
“They’re too hyped,” Francisco Arjona (34), an environmental engineer and leader Tours of the trees Mexico City. He can point out parks, intersections, and parking spots where you can enjoy the spectacle. However, he reminds people that these spaces are also home many beautiful native trees.
In the 1940s, the first generation jacarandas had reached a height of 30 feet. Mr. Matsumoto and Sanshiro became advocates for the community. The Matsumotos intervened with Mexico and placed 900 Japanese refugees in one of their sprawling haciendas when they ordered them to leave Japan.
Jesús Roldán, 38, a mountain climber, was sitting below the crooked branches of a blooming jacaranda outside the Palace of Fine Arts, one of the most tagged trees on Instagram.
“They seem really complex to me, from their stature to their color, its arms and structure are very difficult to understand,” He said. “I think they’re not comfortable, perhaps they’d be better elsewhere.”
Matsumoto Flowershop is located on the northern edge a fashionable street in the Roma Norte neighbourhood. Its expansive front is now mostly empty, with only a few withering plastic flowers, an outdated sign, and a lonely desk. Mexico City’s urban landscape is continually changing: new buildings rise every day, hundreds of Palm trees are suffering from an unforgiving plague.Gardeners who are water conscious look for plants that can withstand severe drought. Winters are becoming shorter, and hotter.
However, “if something will survive, it’ll be the jacarandas,” said Mr. López Robledo.