I decided to move ahead with the cherries. I could not stand the thougth of not finishing. I worked quite a bit on it this weekend, and so far I like the results. I am not giving up on the mandala. I made a few quick sketches in my sketchbook/journal of ideas and will decide after I am done with the cherry blossoms.
I like the darker background much better, also the illusion of branches and blossom clusters.