Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Wave Hill (Riverdale): 242nd Street & Independence Ave

Flower Garden
Do you believe in synchronicity?  A couple of weeks ago, I heard about Wave Hill from 3 different sources--in a card set that tells of 52 things to do in NYC which is sold at the MOMA gift/book shop, from my Citizen Pruner class instructor (see my prior blog), and then from a friend who was recommending I visit the gardens now that the weather is more consistently nice in NYC.  According to Deepak Chopra, synchronicity is a sign that one is on the right path so I made a plan to visit Wave Hill and today was the day.

I'll admit that this is not the easiest place to get to, but then again, many things that are worthwhile take a little effort.  Actually, taking Metro-North's Harlem line to Riverdale and taking the free shuttle bus was relatively easy, as I live close to Grand Central (I took the shuttle and the 1, A, B, and E subways to get home, but I thought I would try both ways so that I could let blog readers know the difference--it took 3 times as long and about half the non-peak price ($5.75)--it's definitely worth using the train if possible).  Also on Tuesday and Saturday mornings admission is free (check out their website for the latest if hours, tours, etc. at Wave Hill Info).

When I got to Wave Hill, I first went on a 45 minute tour at the Glyndor Gallery.  They are currently displaying the work of three artists, Philip Taaffee, Fred Tomaselli, and Terry Winters, who have been inspired by nature and created numerous pieces for the Glyndor Gallery.  Taaffee used screen printing, collage, and marbling washes to create layered pieces with direct references to sea life and indirect references to cacti.  Tomaselli layered collage from magazines and catalogs as well as resin and acrylic paint to create transformational and accessible psychedelic art pieces (see "Dahlia" above left and bird images created using outerwear clothing catalog images at right).  Winters does more abstract work that only references the balance of flowers in nature in his series of Hexagrams in oil, collage, and embossing.

View of Wild Garden from Beneath a Shady Trellis
Aquatic Garden
After the tour, I walked the main part of the grounds, particularly enjoying the Flower Garden (see top photo), the Wild Garden (see left), and the Aquatic Garden lined by trellis walkways (see below right).  Of course I also stopped by the Perkins Visitor Center and Gift Shop, where they had various appealing jams, chutneys, honeys, lotions, nature inspired jewelry and books.  By the way, if you are coming to spend a long time at the gardens, you may want to pack a snack, as they do not have much in the way of real food for sale.

But surrounded by all of this natural beauty, I was glad I brought a sketch pad and some pencils so that I could practice drawing and take down some of my impressions (not just by camera).  I sat at various Adirondack style chairs (they are littered around the garden) and stone benches in the shade of trees and trellises for about an hour and took in beautiful vistas and natural details.  It was a wonderful way to spend a sunny (and not yet too humid) afternoon.

I don't want to give people the wrong impression, this is not the size of the NY Botanical Garden or the Brooklyn Botanic Garden (see my prior posts on each of these).  In total, Wave Hill is about 28 acres and the conservatory (see photos below) are more like green houses.  However, if you want a less crowded, lovely garden filled with breathtaking views of the Hudson, this is a fantastic "hidden" spot in NYC.

Garden Chairs Planted with Succulents at the Conservatory Entrance

Cactus and Succulent House, Part of the Marco Polo Stufano Conservatory

Tropical House, Part of the Marco Polo Stufano Conservatory


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