4. The Only Time Frick’s Magnolia Tree Didn’t Bloom Was After Bill Cunningham’s Death
Celebrated New York Times photographer Bill Cunningham loved the Frick, and photographed it often. The spring after he died, the magnolia trees failed to bloom for the first time in their history, recalls Heidi Rosenau, The Frick’s Associate Director of Media Relations & Marketing.
While the Fifth Avenue Garden as a whole had been designed in the early 1930s by Frederick Law Olmsted, Jr., son of Central Park‘s planner, the three magnolia trees were planted later, in 1939. The two trees on the lower tier are Saucer Magnolias (Magnolia soulangeana) while the tree on the upper tier adjacent to the flagpole is a Star Magnolia (Magnolia stellata). They are pruned yearly to maintain their generous shape in proportion to the block-long limestone facade. Bill Cunningham loved them, and they apparently loved Bill Cunningham.