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2024 Nally Interns

May 28, 2024

For more than 30 years, the John Nally Internship has offered future horticulturists the opportunity to explore the career here at Wave Hill. The Nallies spend the growing year with us from roughly April–November in a hands-on apprenticeship and become skilled in the sustainable approaches used to manage a public garden.

Last month we welcomed the five enthusiastic and dedicated members of the 2024 cohort. Pictured above from left to right: Jon Solomon, Dave Pallata, Hillarie O’Toole, Miranda Viederman and Fergus Barragry.

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John Nally interns meticulously weed the spring bulb display in the Paisly Bed. They are instructed in techniques and standards unique to the world of fine public gardening.
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Director of Horticulture, Cathy Deutsch points out the sessile magenta blooms emerging from the trunk of an 'Appalachian Red' Cercis canadensis outside of Glyndor Gallery. John Nally interns partake in a weekly "Hortquest" in which they do a deep dive on a variety of garden subjects. On this April afternoon they compared the features and horticultural requirements of flowering trees throughout the landscape.

Hailing from Cambridge, England, Fergus Barragry has lived in the New York City area for the past fifteen years. Raised close to nature throughout early childhood, he took his love for all things green to the next level in the summer of 2022 when he started volunteering on behalf of the NYC Parks Department in Van Cortlandt Park. To advance his commitment to the field, Fergus is likewise pursuing certificates in Arboriculture and Landscape Management from the New York Botanical Garden, and GIS at Hunter College. With an affinity for trees and woodlands, Fergus aims to attain ISA certification and soon get a taste of both climber-pruner and forestry work. His favorite trees are Platanus occidentalis, Acer pseudoplatanus, and Aesculus hippocastanum.

Hillarie O’Toole joined Wave Hill in November of 2022 as the part-time Horticultural Coordinator. With a professional background in opera performance, she has held positions in music education and arts programming at institutions including Carnegie Hall and Juilliard. She served as Manager of Public Education at the New York Botanical Garden from 2018–2021, where she curated a myriad of public programs and performances. It was during her time as an administrator there that she found herself increasingly drawn to the creative aspects of horticulture and the joy of working outdoors. She is now pursuing a career change and is enrolled in the Horticulture and Sustainable Landscape Design certificate programs at NYBG. An avid home gardener and birder, she is most interested in creating beautiful outdoor spaces for diverse NYC communities that support local wildlife populations. She looks forward to learning the skills behind Wave Hill’s artistry – and to pursuing a long second career in public gardens and rooftop garden design.

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Interns Miranda Viederman, Hillarie O'Toole, and Dave Pallatta (L-R) pot up divisions of Schizachyrium scoparium (little bluestem) for use in a summer container display.

Dave Pallata is a career changer, switching to Horticulture after many years as a Project Manager in the medical device industry. He is a second–year student at the New York Botanical Garden’s School of Professional Horticulture and will graduate next March. Dave and his wife Courtney live in New Jersey, and he has two daughters, Chay, 22 and Ellie, 14. He has a bachelor's degree in Mechanical Engineering. Dave has a particular interest in native plants, perennials and aquatic plants. While he has intently worked on his home garden for years, Dave wants to work in public gardens after graduation.

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Gardener, Harnek Singh instructs the interns on root pruning as they transfer a mature Laurus nobilis (bay laurel) into a new Versailles box. Interns work together on special group projects each week, but otherwise work one-on-one under the mentorship of Wave Hill's talented gardeners. Interns rotate gardener assignments throughout the season allowing them a chance to gain experience with a variety of plant palettes and gardening styles.

Having grown up in Riverdale, Jon Solomon frequently visited Wave Hill with his family. A recent graduate of the University of Vermont, he holds a bachelor's degree in wildlife biology. When he returned to New York City, he became reacquainted with Wave Hill as a volunteer, where he enjoyed learning alongside the gardeners three days a week. He is most interested in plant communities and how we can design gardens to be, at once, beautiful while re-establishing emulating lost ecosystem services. As he navigates new interests in the natural world, he anticipates his path will ultimately lead to ecosystem conservation or designing gardens and parks.

Miranda Viederman is a recent graduate of Bowdoin College, where she studied English Literature. Inspired by many hours and tasks with her mom in their home garden, she enrolled in a horticulture course at Southern Maine Community College where she caught the bug. She immediately got a job with a horticulturist maintaining fine, residential gardens near Portland. While hands in the dirt there, she lived aboard a sailboat and divided her time between earth and sea. Miranda is excited to spend the season at Wave Hill and hopes to learn more about garden design with an emphasis on native plants and wildlife habitat.

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A procession of interns snake down the potting shed path as they put the hoop house cover away for summer storage. Interns work towards all aspects of the garden's success and are crucial in the upkeep and maintenance of Wave Hill's "back of house" propagation and growing spaces.

The John Nally Internship Program is generously funded by private supporters and donors. If you would like to make a gift to support this life-changing internship, click here.