A wonderland of lush landscapes, vibrant seasonal gardens and panoramic views, Wave Hill is all the more remarkable by virtue of its surprising location.
By Janice Llanes Fabry
A wonderland of lush landscapes, vibrant seasonal gardens and panoramic views, Wave Hill is all the more remarkable by virtue of its surprising location. Tucked away in the northwest corner of the Bronx, the 28-acre public garden overlooking the Hudson River is a sharp contrast to its urban surroundings.
Wave Hill is at once a splendid escape, a horticultural tour de force, and a cultural center with art shows and educational programs. An exhibit running through August, “Tending Toward the Untamed: Artists Respond to the Wild Garden” displays the work of artists, inspired by the ground’s wild gardens. Coming up are sculptural installations, photography exhibits, and family art workshops. Visitors can take advantage of guided garden or historical tours and birding walks. July and August offer sunset Wednesdays, replete with musicians, outdoor yoga, and a light dinner.
One of the beauties of Wave Hill is that one can easily saunter through its breathtaking grounds on one’s own. There are shady paths, wooden benches and gazebos. A perfectly manicured expansive Great Lawn leads to a myriad of possibilities, showcasing nature at its very best. The lawn’s Italianate pergola frames views of the Hudson River and the Palisades. The pergola itself is a colorful cornucopia of potted flowers, hanging baskets, and climbing vines.
Facing the Great Lawn, the main Flower Garden combines spectacular perennials, annuals, shrubs, and exotic plants, while hillside wild gardens are meticulously cultivated to achieve that “planted by nature” effect. In addition, an aquatic garden is an oasis to a variety of monocots in full splendor during the summer months.
The Marco Polo Stufano Conservatory houses plants from around the world. A former greenhouse, the T.H. Everett Alpine House’s stone foundation provides an opulent habitat for striking foliage, cascading alpines, as well as culinary and medicinal herb gardens.
Wave Hill calls its myriad of specimen trees “grand monuments” and magnificent testaments to nature they certainly are. Highlights include copper beech, American elm, sugar maple, cutleaf staghorn sumac, dawn redwood, and bigleaf magnolia. Along its perimeter, woodland wraps around it with ten acres of forest and meadow.
Many trees and structures go back to the early 1900s when George Perkins, a J.P. Morgan partner, purchased Wave Hill House. After accumulating adjacent properties along the river, he devoted much of his time to enhancing the site’s majestic views. The land was graded; rare trees and shrubs were planted.
In 1960, the Perkins-Freeman family deeded Wave Hill to New York City. Shortly after, thanks to a grassroots community movement, Wave Hill became the public botanical garden it is today. Open year-round and only a short drive away, the main entrance at West 249th Street and Independence Avenue opens its doors to a natural masterpiece.
For hours and more information, call 718-549-3200 or log on to www.wavehill.org.