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Maturing cherry trees from Japan
have added spring color to riverfront

The trees were a gift from
Madison Precision parent corp.

By Ruth Wright
Staff Writer

MADISON, Ind. (September 2004) – Each spring in the nation’s capital, fragrant blossoms blanket the branches of more than 3,000 cherry trees that dominate the horticultural landscape along the Tidal Basin in West Potomac Park, in East Potomac Park and on the grounds of the Washington Monument.

Cherry Trees

Photo by David Sutherland

Cherry trees along the Madison
riverfront were a gift from METTS
Corp., the parent of Madison
Precision Products.

Some of the trees have been there since 1912. The rest are replacements which have been planted over the years.
Likewise in Madison, Ind., sometime each year between mid-March and mid-April, small white flowers adorn the Yoshino Cherry trees that, while significantly fewer in number, similarly decorate the riverfront along Vaughn Drive.
Planted in 1999, the trees were a gift of friendship from METTS Corp., the Japan-based parent company of Madison Precision Products Inc. in Madison.
“It started out with the Japanese wanting to do something for Madison,” explained Madison Precision’s vice president of Human Resources David Sutherland.
METTS’ original plan called for 200 trees. That number was reduced to 55 when concerns were raised about the trees obstructing the view, Sutherland said.
While the cherry trees planted in Washington, D.C., in the early 1900s were shipped to the United States from Japan, the trees in planted Madison came from a grower in Tennessee.
The United States does not allow certain plants imported into the country due to the possible spread of disease that could kill native trees, according to Sutherland.
Sutherland, Madison Precision facilities maintenance engineer Louis Alexander and city arborist Caryl Schwaller determined where the trees would go. Most were planted along the south side of Vaughn Drive. Eighteen were planted at Crystal Beach Pool, in Jaycee Park and near the turn-around at the Hwy. 421 bridge. Another 10 were planted at local schools.

David Sutherland

Photo by Ruth Wright

Madison Precision Products HR
vice president David Sutherland
helped decide where to place the
trees when planted in 1999.

The cherry trees were dedicated in a ceremony held on Arbor Day 1999. Present were city officials, including Mayor Al Huntington, Yozo Hasegawa, then president of METTS, and Masahiko “Joe” Jomoto, president of Madison Precision.
Hasegawa, who has since retired, was enthusiastic about the project, said Sutherland. He believed that the gift of Yoshino cherry trees would help promote locally the friendship between the United States and Japan.
Approximately seven to 10 feet tall when planted, Madison’s cherry trees have since grown to 15-20 feet and will continue to mature up to 50 feet. Generally hardy, the trees require little maintenance. Pruning and protecting them against pests, primarily eastern tent catapillars, is basically all that is needed, according to Schwaller.
This spring, during a drive along the riverfront, Sutherland said he noticed a woman and an infant having a picnic beneath one of the trees. “I thought it was wonderful how American’s enjoy the cherry blossoms just as Japanese people do,” he later wrote in a letter to the tree donors. Sutherland thanked them for the trees and enclosed a collage of pictures taken this spring when the trees were in full bloom.
In appreciation of the cherry trees, the City of Madison donated several dogwood trees to its Japanese sister city of Minobu. The dogwood is the official tree of Madison.
Madison Precision has recently paid for planting 10 additional Yoshino Cherry trees. They will will be planted along the riverfront this fall or next spring, according to Schwaller.

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