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I truly believe Wave Hill has magic on top of being such a beautiful place. What I try to create for weddings at Wave Hill is a sense of comfort and ease to match the surroundings and venue. Top that with the delicious food from Great Performances, and it is a winning formula for enchantment and a day to remember forever! I really try to anticipate everything needed within each couples vision. But the only way to appreciate what Wave Hill has to offer is to visit. That’s why I’ve planned a private Wave Hill Bridal Fair for Saturday afternoon, April 4, from 12:30 to 2:30PM. I’ll be on hand to answer questions, and share my love for this special place. If you’d like to join us, please RSVP to porfi@greatperformances.com.

Porfirio Figueroa is Private Event Planner for Great Performances, Wave Hill’s exclusive caterer. The gardens have been the captivating setting for many weddings. Part of what makes these celebrations so special is the personal attention couples receive from Porfi, who works tirelessly to ensure that every wish is fulfilled.

A Wave Hill bride and groom are reunited with Porfi

A Wave Hill bride and groom are reunited with Porfi

The skies ought to be sunny every day on garden writer Stephen Orr’s so-named blog. At Wave Hill, we know him well not just as a frequent columnist in the New York Times but as a member of Wave Hill’s Friends of Horticulture, a committee of highly regarded gardeners who actively support Wave Hill’s Horticulture Program. Stephen visited early one morning this week to capture superbly on film the rich, gentian-blue of glory-of-the-snow lightly carpeting our hillsides. You couldn’t be with him, but you can visit his blog to enjoy his images and the wonderful intelligence that informs them.

 

Waiting throughout the long months of cold in their fuzzy, protective coverings, called “perules,” the multitude of magnolia flower buds go beyond winter interest, shimmering in the slant of the season’s light, to convey a sense of winter empathy.  When I spot a glimmer of pink or white pushing through a splitting perule, I know that the first real breath of spring is at hand.  The “precocious” blooming magnolias, those that flower prior to the trees leafing out, exude a fragrant freshness into the air, cheering the senses and brightening the weary winter landscape.

 

First to bloom, in early April, are the group of Magnolia stellata and a stellata hybrid M. x lobneri ‘Leonard Messel’ on the entrance lawn, along with the sweetly scented M. x lobneri ‘Merrill’ by the entrance. The star magnolias are hardy, but these early bloomers all risk frost damage to their fragrant clouds of blossoms. South along the driveway, the M. denudata peaks about three weeks later. With its ivory blossoms lighting up the entire tree, one understands why Buddhists in China have planted it outside their temples for ages. Some branches bend graciously toward the ground, presenting chalice-shaped blooms for imbibing their heavenly fragrance.

 

At the entrance to the Herbert & Hyonja Abrons Woodland are several magnolias, including Magnolia x ‘Elizabeth’ bearing creamy yellow, sweetly scented flowers. A cross between M. acuminata and M. denudata, this cultivar was developed by the Brooklyn Botanic Garden, and was the big breakthrough in breeding yellow-flowered magnolias. A special new yellow cultivar, bred by BBG and honoring a former president there, Magnolia x ‘Judy Zuk,’ has recently been planted by the walkway entry of Wave Hill.

 

Another category of magnolias, those that flower in the full foliage of late spring or summer, includes natives both deciduous and evergreen. In front of Glyndor House, two sweet bays (M. virginiana) with small lemon-scented flowers grow beside the tall southern magnolia, aptly named Magnolia grandiflora. English poet and writer Vita Sackville-West described its large flowers as “great white pigeons settling among the dark leaves.”

 

A special late bloomer, Magnolia sieboldii, is given pride of place by the brick entry path. With its delicate, pendulous and redolent flowers, this small candelabra-shaped tree merits a closer look. The fragrant June blooms of M. macrophylla are quite the opposite in size with flowers up to a foot wide. But fair warning about the neighboring M. tripetala: it is the stinker in the group. From winter buds to summer blooms, the genus Magnolia has striking and subtle gifts to offer the spring pageant.


Marilyn Young is Horticultural Assistant at Wave Hill.

This photo of Magnolia x soulangiana was taken by Wave Hill Gardener Carolyn Kennedy

This photo of Magnolia x soulangiana 'Lennei' was taken by Wave Hill Gardener Carolyn Kennedy

 

And here is a photo of Magnolia denudata taken by Wave Hill Marketing & Communications Associate Betsy Ginn

And here is a photo of Magnolia denudata taken by Wave Hill Marketing & Communications Associate Betsy Ginn

Stephanie Ehrlich is Special Projects and Events Producer at Wave Hill.

As the in-house producer of Wave Hill events large and small, I am really looking forward to the upcoming Spring Gala. The Gala Committee, chaired by the ever-stylish Janet Mavec, has dreamed up an event that is sure to inspire. Working with Michelle Rago they’ve devised a tree-inspired design to delight guests and celebrate our phenomenal tree collection. I can’t wait to see it. And I am particularly looking forward to dinner! Prepared by our longtime partner Great Performances, the food is locally sourced where possible and sure to be delicious. The hors d’oeuvres were incredible at the tasting. My favorites: Medjool dates stuffed with walnut pesto and wrapped in bacon; Szechuan seared scallops on red curry rice cake; Corn fritters with spicy red pepper coulis. Yum!

 

We’re trying something new with attire, too. We’ve asked folks to dress formally, but to wear green or be ‘green’. I’m hoping the ladies wear vintage cocktail dresses. And maybe someone will carry granny’s Whiting & Davis chain mail purse from the 20’s. But that’s just me!

 

Today, I’m off to the printer to see the invitation ‘on press’ – I love going to the print shop to see the printers mix colors to match our concept (and the PMS color we’ve chosen!). We’ve had a bit of an adventure with this invitation. The idea is to use a tree illustration created by the inimitable Maira Kalman. Kalman painted a joyous map/mural of Wave Hill a few years back; it’s chock-full of happy Wave Hill images like bunnies and children dressed as bees, and our tree collection. It’s on display in the Perkins Visitor Center, where it never fails to cheer me up. We zeroed in on her version of the Copper Beech and have been using it as part of our Year of the Trees logo. For the Gala invitation, the tree stands alone. Since it’s the Copper Beech, we thought it would be fun (and cost-effective) to use one ink color. The color we chose is this deep burgundy. Gorgeous. But, when we saw it on the ‘proof’ (that’s what the printer sends to confirm details) it looked like pure autumn, not spring. Ugghhh… So, in true Wave Hill fashion, lots of folks got involved to make it work, from Scott Canning, Director of Horticulture to Laurel Rimmer, Assistant Director of Public Programs (and a horticulture pro as well). With input from Jennifer McGregor, our Senior Curator, as well as our PR people, we switched gears and chose a lively green. Fingers crossed that it comes out well!  Wanna join us?

 

 

 

 

Here's a snapshot of the panel showing off the drawing of our gorgeous beech

Here's a snapshot of the panel showing off the drawing of our gorgeous beech

 

 

 

 

 

Look for the copper beech in the lower left foreground of this snapshot of Maira Kalman's whimsical "map".

Look for the copper beech in the lower left foreground of this snapshot of Maira Kalman's whimsical "map".

The center gallery in Wave Hill’s Glyndor Gallery provided a quiet setting for artist Ilene Sunshine and arborist William Bryant Logan to share their interest in the oak, during a conversation that took place in early March. Sunshine’s drawing A is for Alba covers the entire west wall of the center gallery. It was inspired by nine oak species that grace Wave Hill’s gardens and underscores the range of the prolific oak family’s leaf shapes, their stenciled contours penetrating rows of dark, horizontal lines across the gallery wall. Sunshine lends her presence in other ways this spring, as she leads an adult art workshop, Collage, on March 22, and a Family Art Project, Conversations with a Leaf, on May 16, 17. William Bryant Logan is the author of Oak: The Frame of Civilization, which traces the influence of the oak tree on human development, about which he spoke at the second of Wave Hill’s 2009 Horticultural Lectures in mid-February. He is often at Wave Hill this year as he consults with Wave Hill on a year-long study of the garden’s 150 to 200 specimen trees, from which will emerge a maintenance plan and a planting scheme for the next century.

For Ross (on the far right) and Thalken (second from left), the journey began on a tour of the Grand Concourse with Bronx historian Peter Derrick last summer

For Ross (on the far right) and Thalken (second from left), the journey began on a tour of the Grand Concourse with Bronx historian Peter Derrick last summer

In mid-March, I spent the morning with performer Steve Ross, who partners with Wave Hill to bring a mini-series of Cabaret performances to Wave Hill’s annual concert season, and composer Joseph Thalken. Thalken is working with lyricist Barry Kleinbort to create a song for the third and last concert in the series Cabaret and Grand Concourse, when KT Sullivan performs at Wave Hill.  Ross and Thalken talked with me about the Grand Concourse, which celebrates its centennial this year, about the experience of composing and the unique pleasures of performing in Wave Hill’s Armor Hall. In this clip, I am seated on the far left, with Joseph Thalken in the middle and Steve Ross on the far right.

 

Andrew Appel is Performing Arts Programmer at Wave Hill.

 

 

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Wave Hill’s Cactus House, the right-hand wing of Wave Hill’s Marco Polo Stufano Conservatory, currently features a number of interesting winter-flowering kalanchoes. These sun-loving members of the jade family delight visitors with their diversity of flowers and textural foliage. This is the first time in years that the Kalanchoe tomentosa ‘Golden Girl’ has bloomed here at Wave Hill, and I think it’s been worth the wait. I took this shot yesterday, March 12.

 

Susannah Strazzera is a gardener at Wave Hill.

One of the first signs of spring for me here at Wave Hill is the appearance of hundreds of robins on the lawns. They descend upon the open grass, peppering the grounds in a fascinating display of movement and industry. I am told by my daughter, who studied this particular phenomenon as part of a dance class in second grade, that the robins’ rhythmic patter sounds like rain to the earthworms below ground and causes them to surface. The robins then snatch up a tasty meal. The Iroquois celebrate this rite of spring in a dance, known appropriately as the Robin Dance, which mimics the robin’s movements. I eagerly await the return of these rust-bellied harbingers on the grounds each year, for I know that not far behind them will be the burst of color and leaf that leaves no doubt as to the official entrance of spring.

Artist and author Maira Kalman’s line of gift and novelty items, created exclusively for Wave Hill and available at The Shop at Wave Hill, capture the character of the robin and other creatures with whom we share the gardens.

Artist and author Maira Kalman’s line of gift and novelty items, created exclusively for Wave Hill and available at The Shop at Wave Hill, capture the character of the robin and other creatures with whom we share the gardens.

Karen Schimmel is Visitor Services Manager at Wave Hill.

mirele-teaching-croppedI encountered Wave Hill while working as a special education teacher for a first grade class at P.S. 28 in the Bronx. My class participated in the Wave Hill School Partnerships Program, and the staff was so sweet to me and the children. I remember thinking “I want to work there,” because the educators seemed to be having the time of their lives. I liked their approach to working with children: Being calm, never shouting, and always smiling. I thought I would fit in. And when I tried on the dandelion costume in front of the class with all the children laughing and cheering me on, I knew that becoming a Wave Hill educator was my destiny.

 

So I applied and got the position. Hooray!

 

It’s a real privilege to work in such a beautiful setting and encounter so many different children from so many schools. It is an eye opening experience. One of the highlights is taking students for little hikes in the woodlands. Simple encounters with nature that I had taken for granted, such as crossing a puddle by balancing on a log, are thrilling and potentially life-changing moments for these children. They scream out in sheer joy at the prospect of being surrounded by pine trees. This is new to them. Oftentimes, students ask me whether there are bears in the woodlands. Although they are not home to bears, our woodlands do provide ample opportunities to spot birds and squirrels—an experience that the students find thrilling. In these ways, my position at Wave Hill helps me stay cognizant of the extraordinary beauty of nature and transmit my enthusiasm to a new generation.

 

Mirele Davis is a part-time Wave Hill Educator.

Lone flower, hemmed in with snows and white as they

But hardier far, once more I see thee bend

Thy forehead, as if fearful to offend,

Like an unbidden guest.

from To a Snowdrop by William Wordsworth, 1819snowdrop7

 

Long before flamboyant tulips and daffodils boldly announce the arrival of spring, the precocious snowdrops challenge the waning winter by pushing up graceful flowers through the melting snow. The botanical name Galanthus comes from the Greek words gala for milk and anthis for flower. Look for the first “milk flowers” to emerge just south of Glyndor House in late February, where the warm slope encourages the sturdy little flowers to push up through the lingering snow. By early March, the Wild Garden is blanketed not with snow but with the white blossoms of the giant snowdrops, Galanthus elwesii, which have happily seeded around the garden.

 

The pendulous flowers lure hungry bees who receive a shower of pollen as they probe into a blossom in search of its sweet nectar. On a warm March day, you may find our Wave Hill honeybees visiting Wordsworth’s admired flower, busily collecting the first nectar of the season in anticipation of the summer honey harvest.

 

Laurel Rimmer is Assistant Director of Public Programs. Among her many contributions are botanical drawings of plants found at Wave Hill, such as the snowdrop protrayed here.

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