Magnolia Plaza


Magnolia Plaza is an elegant formal garden of magnificent trees spread in front of the beaux arts Administration Building. The sweet scent and showy blossoms of magnolias are among the early signs of spring at Brooklyn Botanic Garden. In March, the star magnolias (Magnolia stellata) bloom, covering the trees with millions of lacy white flowers. In April the Plaza is splashed with the ivory, yellow, pink, and rich purple of 17 varieties of magnolias. The last to bloom in the collection, the sweet-bay magnolia (M. virginiana), reveals its fragrant, creamy white flowers in June.

Important new magnolia hybrids have been developed at the Garden, including 'Elizabeth', a vigorous tree with clear yellow flowers and the ‘Judy Zuk’ magnolia, named in honor of BBG’s former president.

Magnolia Plaza was first planted in the spring of 1932. It was designed by Harold Caparn, the Garden's landscape architect from 1912 to 1945, and funded by the BBG Auxiliary, which raised more than $1,500 for the project. The first planting included 80 magnolias, 5,000 ivy plants, 650 euonymus, 450 California privet, 60 barberry shrubs, 20 akebias, and two tulip trees.

In 1933, the compass and armillary sphere were added to Magnolia Plaza, the bequest of A.W. Jenkins, a member of the Garden's governing committee. The sphere is made of bronze bands representing the principle celestial circles and constellations. A thin bronze rod, or gnomon, passes through the center of the sphere, pointing north and casting a shadow on the inside of the sphere, which can be used to tell the approximate time.

Wayken Shaw

Wayken Shaw

 

Wayken Shaw is the curator of the Judith D. Zuk Magnolia Plaza and Lily Pool Terrace, including the Annual and Perennial Borders. After earning a master’s in landscape architecture from the University of Arizona, Wayken practiced urban design for nine years on both coasts before pursuing a more “hands-on” career in ornamental horticulture through a joint program between Bronx Community College and the New York Botanical Garden. Wayken sees gardening as an important connection between form and function, with plants as an aesthetic, educational, and physically comforting medium for defining space and creating a sense of place in our urban fabric.


From March-blooming star magnolias (Magnolia stellata) to saucer magnolias (M. x soulangiana) in April, Magnolia Plaza is sweetly scented with 72 trees highlighting 17 varieties.

Magnolia Plaza 1937
Laboratory Building, BBG. Central pavilion with magnolias in flower. ©1937 Louis Buhle. All rights reserved. For reproduction permission, contact library@bbg.org. To see more historic images of BBG, visit bbg.org/discover/historicimages/
Cayleb
Cayleb Long, former curator of the Lily Pond Terrace and Judith D. Zuk Magnolia Plaza at BBG.
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    • Magnolia Terrace in March. Photo by Antonio M. Rosario.Magnolia Terrace in March. Photo by Antonio M. Rosario.
    • Photo by Patrick CullinaPhoto by Patrick Cullina
    • Magnolia Plaza looks vivid and lush thanks to near record rainfall in Brooklyn this March. Photo by Rebecca Bullene.Magnolia Plaza looks vivid and lush thanks to near record rainfall in Brooklyn this March. Photo by Rebecca Bullene.
    • Several of the magnolia trees in the Judith D. Zuk Magnolia Plaza begin to bloom in early March. Photo by Rebecca BulleneSeveral of the magnolia trees in the Judith D. Zuk Magnolia Plaza begin to bloom in early March. Photo by Rebecca Bullene
    • photo by alison dorfmanphoto by alison dorfman
    • Photo by Dave AllenPhoto by Dave Allen
    next slide previous slide
      • photo by alison dorfmanphoto by alison dorfman
      • Photo by Patrick CullinaPhoto by Patrick Cullina
      • Magnolia x loebneri 'Leonard Messel'Magnolia x loebneri 'Leonard Messel'
      • Magnolia stellata

Photo by Medi BlumMagnolia stellata Photo by Medi Blum
      • photo by alison dorfmanphoto by alison dorfman
      • photo by alison dorfmanphoto by alison dorfman
      • Buds are growing and getting big on the 72 magnolia trees planted in the Judith D. Zuk Magnolia Plaza at BBG! They begin blooming mid-March; such a colorful and sweet-smelling sign of spring! Photo by Rebecca BulleneBuds are growing and getting big on the 72 magnolia trees planted in the Judith D. Zuk Magnolia Plaza at BBG! They begin blooming mid-March; such a colorful and sweet-smelling sign of spring! Photo by Rebecca Bullene
      • The bud of a Star Magnolia begins to open on a sunny March morning in the Judith D. Zuk Magnolia Plaza of BBG. Photo by Rebecca BulleneThe bud of a Star Magnolia begins to open on a sunny March morning in the Judith D. Zuk Magnolia Plaza of BBG. Photo by Rebecca Bullene
      • Photo by Patrick CullinaPhoto by Patrick Cullina
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