I had a hankering this weekend to visit Wave Hill, a beautiful garden in Riverdale, NYC, in the Bronx. There were a couple of pines I wanted to check out, and I needed a hit of spring bulbs (beyond the beloved daffodils.) A friend had never seen the place, but always wanted to, and that sealed the deal. I packed a few slices of olive oil cake for fortification, as one always needs a snack after a stroll. (This is my favorite new recipe for tea parties, one that I have baked a few too many times this winter--and yes, one always needs stoutness exercises after a snack....)
I found the pine I've been fantasizing about planting, a Lace Bark. It has a beautiful architecture (this one has been well-pruned over the years) and a marvelous mottled pattern on its bark. And the spring ephemera did not disappoint; the beds are a riot of hellebore and tulips and hyacinth and everything else you would expect to see in spring.
But I was surprised by what I consider the shy star of the garden right now. At the back of a clever series of troughs we spotted a stone wall--at least six feet high--covered with miniature jewels: the Alpine Wall, running alongside the glass Alpine House. We got a lesson in planting walls with tiny delights.
In general the hothouses are looking good; there's an enormous therapeutic benefit to breathing the air in a glasshouse. Several beds of large sedum were handsome and elegantly plump. I'm looking forward to more variety on the wall, and in the house--they can only get better.
There is so much to see in this classic garden, high above the Hudson--an excellent perch from which to watch migrating birds, too. The views of the Palisades are worth the trip, but so are the specimen trees, and right now the magnolias are in heavy bloom. This was once a private garden, and its scale is welcoming; many visitors had settled into the surprisingly comfortable wooden armchairs (painted with Benjamin Moore's Mountain Sage--we asked), their newspapers pinned down against the winds, steaming mugs of coffee in hand, basking in spring sun. We got an extra treat when the legendary Marco Polo Stufano wheeled around the corner. He retired as the director of horticulture in 2001, but he is still invited by to "check up on things"--thankfully for all of us who love this garden; we are the beneficiaries of his keen and discerning eye.