Sneak around to the back side of Metropolitan Museum of Art this week and find a sight on par with Monet’s water lilies. Magnolia trees throughout Central Park are in peak bloom and the grove behind the museum is especially spectacular.
Central Park Magnolia Blossoms
Note: when I say “sneak” I’m being unnecessarily dramatic. This isn’t some Met-Exclusive Secret Garden. Magnolia trees line the well-traveled road on the park’s East side, an area called “Metropolitan Landscapes“. The blossoms hang down so close to the ground that you can touch them. Surround your head with them for the perfect #flowerpower selfie. Bury your nose in blooms- the white are especially fragrant, the pink ones are much more subtle.
Magnolias are the seeming underdog blooms of spring splendor. I can’t help but wonder- why? Why don’t we have Magnolia Blossom Festivals like we do for cherry blossoms? The celebrity flowers of the season are unequivocally cherry blossoms. The Brooklyn Botanical Garden has a whole webpage devoted to “Cherry Watch“. Is it because cherry pie is delicious but “magnolia pie” doesn’t exists? And if it did it would absolutely taste like fabric softener?
I just don’t think it’s fair! Magnolia trees are just as beautiful! As a devoted tree climber for nearly 3 decades, I can tell you another thing: they’re easier to ascend! I couldn’t just sit and let cherries get all the glory! So I threw my own Magnolia Blossom Festival! I may have been the only person who knew I was attending but I certainly wasn’t the only one there!
Everyone and their family and/or fiancé was out in the blossoms capturing the perfect spring shot. Little did they know they were totally part of my Central Park Magnolia Blossom Festival! Yeah!
No Central Park Magnolia Blossom Festival would be complete without a trip to Cleopatra’s Needle, so I turned south from Metropolitan Landscapes and followed the giant stone obelisk.
The obelisk called Cleopatra’s Needle. According to the Central Park website, it carved in Egypt in 1450 BC. Whoa. That’s ancient, old AF. Beautiful flowers surrounding an ancient artifact in an open, public space? That’s just a walk in the park here. Reason #1450 we love NYC.
Magnolia Blossoms at Cleopatra’s Needle
I can’t say how many 3,500 year old man-made things exist in the United States outside of museums. I’ll go out on a (magnolia) limb and say this is obelisk of a very small number.
Obviously the oldest and most phallic thing I’ve seen this spring.
And probably the prettiest too.
If you enter Central Park from East 81st Street, just walk west until you see the obelisk. Take a walk, start your own Magnolia Blossom Festival.
Straight across the park from Cleopatra’s Needle to the west side, I continued my flower celebration to the Shakespeare Garden. Just south of the Delacorte Theatre and up hill to Belvadere Castle, this garden contains plants and flowers mentioned in the works of the famous playwright. While magnolia trees do not hold this distinction, they still bloom on the hillside. Probably because they’re prettier than “wormwood” and “cowslip”.
Magnolia Blossoms in the Shakespeare Garden
Check out the iconic building the Dakota framed by blossoms, as seen from the Shakespeare Garden.
As breathtaking as a dynamic performance of your favorite Shakespeare sonnet.
Ready to have your own private Magnolia Blossom Festival this weekend? I suppose you could also call it a Magnolia Blossom Walking Tour. Invite some friends! Wear pink! Buy a strawberry frosted cupcake from Magnolia Bakery, of course, a snack for your trek across the park! All things to make your Magnolia Blossom Festival extra festive. Catch these early spring blooms while you still can, they’ll be fading far too soon.