Monday, May 8, 2023

Visiting Wave Hill, a garden of wonders

I’ve visited numerous gardens over the years; public gardens, private gardens, and some that blur the line between the two. Most every garden has something to offer, a vignette, a planting combination, a view, a new plant, an interesting gardener, or an overheard conversation. A few of these visits live large in my memory for the emotional—dare I say spiritual—experience of being there, my visit to Wave Hill is one of those. 

Let me set the scene; It was October 30th. I’d spent most of the day at the NY Botanical Garden. It was lovely, but I was done. Looking at my phone, I was ready to dial up a Lyft to take me to the subway so I could start my journey south to our hotel in Chelsea, that's when I realized just how close I was to Wave Hill in the Bronx, NY. I had no plans to visit because I had it in my mind the garden was a significant distance beyond what I’d already traveled—but this was not so! It was just 11 minutes by car...

Once there I had only an hour and a half to see the garden. This seemed like plenty of time, because I wasn’t all that curious about it anyway. I was just filling time. I entered the garden with no idea which way to go, and ended up at the Glyndor Gallery...
Inside there was a show of artworks made with recycled materials, I made a quick walk thru and enjoyed what I saw, but decided I'd better make haste and go find the garden.

There were lots of interesting containers around the gallery building.

Agave and edgeworthia, an unexpected combination right out of my own garden.

Seeing people ahead it felt like I was headed in the right direction.

The pergola overlook...

The conservatory...

Which way to go!? 

I chose the pergola overlook with its sizable cassia.

The only cassia I've grown is Cassia didymobotrya aka "Popcorn Cassia", it was a great annual in my garden and I need to find it again.

So about the title of this post; the Wave Hill website uses the phrase "A Garden of Wonders" looking back I think that description fits perfectly. I was hugely charmed by the garden and it's location along the Hudson River. Of course the time of my visit helped too, as the sun was setting along the river. I could not have done better if I'd planned it.

My visit to the NYBG felt chaotic. So many people out to experience what the garden had to offer at the end of October. I mean, that's wonderful right? Families engaged with a garden? I am not complaining. But here at Wave Hill I could be calm and feel the garden and it's beauty and just breath it all in. Magic.

Walking down to the lower border, below the pergola, this pot of colocasia caught my eye. I've used this photo in my talk on garden vignettes. The way the veins of the leaves play with the pattern of the hardscape is marvelous.

Catching these leaves backlit was pure luck!

Turning to look behind me...

And out at the river and the fall color...

No, it technically wasn't "prime time" for fall color (a few friends sympathized)  but I couldn't have cared less about that, what I was seeing was stunning just as it was...

Back up under the pergola...

What is this craziness? All the colors all at once?

And this? Pleated foliage madness!

Headed over to explore the conservatory now...

And the shop...

On the way...

Twig tuteur mirroring the light blue painted ones.

Heading towards the conservatory door this sign caught my attention. I am ALWAYS attracted to the areas that are off limits.

For good reason I might add...

How fabulous is that?

But then there was this. I was not going to be able to check out the conservatory, I took this picture at 4:30. At least I hadn't just missed the doors closing. Spoiler alert, the shop was closed too. Ah well, you don't miss what you never had right? 

Of course that didn't keep me from peeking in...

Leonotis leonurus

I debated sharing these final three images. It's now May afterall, spring in all of it's glory! Who wants to see fall flowers, pumpkins and gourds? Well Wave Hill does them so well I think you can still enjoy them in the "wrong" season...

Come back on Wednesday for more from Wave Hill. You don't want to miss it.

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  1. AnonymousMay 08, 2023

    Yet another garden I've never even heard of. I can only imagine how special it must have been to find all this unexpected magic.

  2. A garden that offers one surprise after another is a pleasure. That backlit Colocasia alone would have made the trip for me. I also loved the combination of the squash and the marigolds, flowers I've never had any interest in. I've heard many people exclaim about the beauty of artichoke flowers but, last year when I let mine flower, I discovered that they're even more spectacular when the flowers go to seed as your photo #27 shows.

    1. Agreed! I've not got the space in my garden for artichokes, but thankfully a neighbor across the street grows them so I can get my visual fix that way.

  3. We were at Wave Hill back in 1998 when Marco Polo Stufano was still director. Even then, it was a garden we've never forgotten. The location alone is memorable; those views across the Palisades. We took the train from NYC so we got to go by Spuyten Duyvil, one of best place names on the East Coast. There was no store there then. Glad they put out such a great book because we only have slides of our visit!

    1. Would you believe I've got the book, but I haven't even opened it? Soon.

  4. Wow, gorgeous garden! So lucky you decided to go! I have Popcorn Cassia here in my Phoenix garden and it is about 18 feet tall!

    1. What a fun plant. I wish it wasn't an annual for me.

  5. Oh, so gorgeous - I love the "turning to fall" feel. The cabbages! This is a great reminder to throw some pumpkin seeds in the flower beds soon and maybe a cabbage or two.

    1. Fall garden visits always seem "off" in the spring, but this one did not. Glad you enjoyed.

  6. AnonymousMay 09, 2023

    Thank you for this! I'm planning a fall trip to visit family in Albany, and am figuring out what gardens to visit. You've convinced me that Wave Hill should be top of our list!

  7. I have been a fan of Wave Hill since first seeing it on a garden show many years ago. It's a garden that is on my bucket list. Look forward to seeing the next post.

  8. There are just some places that hit at the right time in our lives and resonate with something deep within to create a completely magical experience. It's a rare thing. Thanks for sharing with us! Looking forward to the next installment.


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