Monday, December 17, 2012

East Coast Excursion 3: A visit to Wave Hill

A deliberate sense of enclosure as you enter the garden.
After a quick tour of the Brooklyn Botanic Garden, Mr. Druse whisked me away to a garden that I HAD to see according to him..

Wave Hill is a stunning garden in the Bronx that overlooks the Hudson River and the dramatic Palisades. Our greeters were apologetic that we were a bit too early for the fall color across the river, but the weather was absolutely perfect and the only thing we could have asked for was more time.

Entrance Lawn
The open lawn and the view of the Hudson and the Palisades across with just a hint of fall color

Perennial Border
Their perennial beds were simply immaculate with late season herbaceous perennials and bulbs still putting on a tremendous show. Salvias were something to salivate over as their richly color flowers were as vivid as ever. The dahlias dazzled with wiry stems and explosions of color and the setting sun illuminated ornamental grasses and other perennials with such drama. The garden had wonderful "bones" and the formal layout of the beds were very reminiscent of the bedding schemes I remember seeing in the UK.

Small ConservatoryThe small conservatory was pretty pretty timid and quaint, but boy was it ever maintained to the finest detail. Not a single yellow leaf would be spotted and each plant specimen craved a visitor's attention. It was quite fun walking through with Ken and chatting in a way that only plant geeks would appreciate. Part of me was wanting to make a very good first impression and was a bit relieved when I could ID most of the plant materials in this remarkable greenhouse.

Anthurrium magnificum 1
Here's a stunning plant that I knew the genus of, but not quite the species. I wasn't all that surprised when I saw the label! Anthurium magnificum. Absolutely stupendous!

We walked the extensive grounds, had lunch and met with a few of Ken's colleagues and continued to soak in the rest of the gardens:

Framed View of Sumac 1  

Backlit Garden Beds

  Victorias in Pool

Seats at Wave Hill

Pennisetum Beds with Yucca

It was a bit rushed as we wanted to avoid the horrid traffic heading back to Brooklyn, but the short time I we were there was quite special. There was something about the lighting and the many intimate spaces one could wander into made it worthwhile. The plant palette was quite nice with some wonderful specimen trees and shrubs that would catch anyone's eye!

Parthenocissus henryana

Callicarpa dichotoma 'Issai' habit
Callicarpa dichotoma 'Issai'

Pinus bungeana - Lace-Bark Pine

It was an honor to meet and spend time with Ken Druse that day. I don't think my experience at Brooklyn Botanic Garden and Wave Hill would be as memorable if he weren't my guide.

His insight and shared love for plants was wonderful to experience and for someone without a formal horticultural background or degree, I think it's remarkable what he's able to put out there in terms of his books and lectures on various topics! It was very helpful asking him questions about garden writing, famous OCD television personalities that shall remain nameless (hahahahha) and all sorts of other topics related to what the future lies ahead for those, like myself, moving forward in horticulture.


Sunday, December 2, 2012

A Pacific Northwest Treasure Aims for a Comeback

It was a delight to hear that the former Heronswood Garden in Kingston, WA is finally under new ownership and will one day be restored back to an incredible garden that inspired many gardeners around the world with it's remarkable botanical tapestry of rare and unusual plants from around the world. Read about sale of the property here.

Here are some photos of the gardens from previous visits.

"Every great garden has great bones!"

The meticulously maintained European Hornbeam (Carpinus betulus 'Fastigiata')  is an iconic feature of this garden.

What always amazed me about Heronswood was the audience it drew. Obviously it was more middle-aged women who were most interested in these garden opens and the husbands and children dragged along, but once they begin to settle into the landscape, they relax and marvel at the extensive collection of plants and really appreciate the surroundings.

The Greek ruins made up of colored concrete columns and leaf casts create for a magical scene in Heronswood.

Striking columns with massive pots sitting atop them with bold and lush foliage all around. Its unbelievable what we're able to grow in the Pacific Northwest.

It isn't all about rare and exotic plants and naturalistic landscapes. An extensive and beautifully designed edible garden can be found and there are places to sit and relax and soak up the grand views all around.

What we won't see anymore is this, sadly. A world-renowned nursery with some of the most exciting plant introductions for the keen and avid gardener!

What will remain are the gardens and, already, a team of supporters aiming to restore and refresh the grounds to its former splendor. The Port Gamble S'Klallam Tribe, who purchased the property, are supportive of the efforts as are the former owners of the garden.

A most exciting opportunity was recently just posted:

On December 9, Heronswood will open its gates to same-sex couples who plan on legally getting married as Referendum 74 passed just a few weeks ago!

What a tremendous opportunity! Let's hope the weather cooperates to celebrate a momentous occasion not only for the beloved garden, but to our greater community.

Read about it here!

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