Temperate deciduous forest trees flower in spring, a period that starts when the trees lack leaves and when weather is unpredictable, including frost events, and ends when the forest becomes green and vertical microclimatic gradients are established. This paper asks whether there are spatio-temporal patterns in the development of flowering in trees, and how they relate to reproductive processes. Using a crane, flowering phenology was studied in the crowns of ca. 200 trees of four species, from early spring (ash) through the period of leaf-unfolding (maples) to early summer (lime). Flowering levels in different crown regions were documented quantitatively and repeatedly during the flowering season and compared among individuals and among species. Early-flowering trees displayed a clear and consistent acropetalous and centrifugal flowering pattern, while this pattern disappeared in species that flowered after leaves unfolded. This pattern was superposed on the basic flowering rhythm of each species, and was influenced by effects of direct sunlight, acting at a small scale in early spring and at a large scale in early summer. As this acropetalous centrifugal pattern contrasts the microclimatic gradients that develop only after leaves unfold, it might indicate physiological processes in the ‘awakening’ of trees, as well as evolutionary processes that took place in temperate trees during adaptation to a temperate climate.