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Wave Hill Garden Story

Listen to Ketzel's report on Wave Hill Listen to Ketzel's report on a visit to Wave Hill, an unusually personal yet public garden in the Bronx, and meet a great American plantsman.

Marco in the greenhouse
Marco Polo Stufano puttering in the greenhouse at Wave Hill

Marco Polo Stufano has the undeserved reputation for "liking plants more than he does people" (I'm quoting here but I'm not saying who). Perhaps the greater truth is that he does not suffer fools gladly. As an an incredible plantsman at the forefront of horticulture in America, he has unwittingly become trendy. But Stufano is no mere trendsetter; he is one bona fide plant nerd.

Stufano has boxes and boxes of notes about all the plants he's admired during thirty-plus years of visiting gardens all over the world. "What's amazing to me," he said, "is that I still love and grow the plants I first saw in 1967." Now that's impressive. Neither fickle nor judgemental when it comes to plants ("though there are a couple of things I do have my doubts about," he says. "Red salvia and gladiolas"), Stufano's proven staying power is what makes Wave Hill one of the most personal, private gardens in the U.S. today.

Flower Garden
The Flower Garden outside Wave Hill's impressive Victorian greenhouse. Note the snowcap hydrangeas on the left with their cockeyed-white party hats.
Monocot Border
A stirring moment from Wave Hill's Monocot Border, featuring elephant ears in the center, fountain grass to the left, and banana foliage on top.

Nearly thirty-five years into his tenure, Marco Polo Stufano is retiring from Wave Hill. He'll be leaving (as Director Of Horticulture, anyway) at the end of September. No reason to rush to get there before he leaves -- the place is unlikely to get less beautiful -- but by all means get there, if you find yourself anywhere near NYC.

Flower Garden
An overview of the Flower Garden, looking out across the Hudson River and over to the New Jersey Palisades

Here's a few links on the subject of Wave Hill:
Wave Hill Homepage
GardenWeek's astonishing virtual tour of the gardens in photographs taken over two years.
A list of plants observed at Wave Hill - I can't vouch for its completeness, but a good study for the serious nerd.

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Copyright © 2003 National Public Radio, Washington, D.C.