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Spring Seasonal Displays

April 29, 2024

Every spring Wave Hill gardens feature hundreds of bulbs producing a floriferous display. These varietal combinations mingle in beds and pots throughout many garden areas, erupting with color from early to late spring. Bulbs, which are plants with a fleshy underground storage organ, are planted in the autumn. Now let us enjoy the show!

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Kate French Terrace

Planting beds edge the outdoor dining area of The Café. Gardener Shane Pritchett has prepared a glowing display of Narcissus 'Kedron' (jonquilla daffodil), Fritillaria imperialis 'Rubra Maxima' (crown imperial), and Muscari latifolium 'Purple Rain' (grape hyacinth).

Annual plants are also included in this display, like in the two smaller L-shaped beds underneath the old concord grape vine. Pritchett grew red-leaved lettuce (Lactuca sativa ‘Lunix’) and violas (Viola Sorbet® ‘Honeybee’ and Penny™ ‘Red Blotch’) from seed.

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Paisley Bed

A bed whose shape and name evoke the curved paisley motif, this spring’s Paisley Bed was designed by Director of Horticulture Cathy Deutsch with a variety of bulbs for a succession of blooms from March through June. The display kicked off with early-season Scilla bifolia ‘Rosea’ and S. × ‘Pink Giant’ (pink squills) paired with hovering Fritillaria raddeana (cream-colored fritillary). Deutsch popped in some additional creamy yellow pansies as a border which perfectly matched the mid-season blooms of Narcissus ‘Dialogs’ (large-cupped daffodil). ‘Dialogs’ synced up nicely with Tulipa ‘Sunny Prince’ (single-early tulip) in the Silver Border.

Blooming in late-spring will be Hyacinthoides hispanica ‘Queen of the Pinks’ (Spanish bells cultivar), Camassia leichtlinii ‘Blue Heaven’ (American camas cultivar) and wrapping up with Allium ‘Dallas’ (ornamental onion cultivar).

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Pansies getting planted
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Herb Garden

Surrounding the Herb Garden is a foundation wall of former greenhouses. Two large beds extend out from the foundation and are used to showcase the ornamental value of herbs. Gardener Harnek Singh selected Tulipa ‘Foxy Foxtrot’ a double tulip that emerges with yellow petals that darken to orange and then pink.

Tulip petals are edible and make a colorful addition to salads. The bulb is also edible if prepared correctly.

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Tulipa ’Foxy Foxtrot’ earlier in the season
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At the center of Wave Hill rests the Pergola framing the view of the Palisades and Hudson River—these planted displays aim to complement this view. Gardener Shane Pritchett has selected a mid-season Narcissus ‘Mount Hood’ (trumpet daffodil) which will give way to a late-spring Camassia leichtlinii ‘Caerulea’ (American camas cultivar). Containers with clivias and annuals started from seed are artfully placed under the canopy of the Pergola.

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Flower Garden

A central display grounds the intersecting pathways of the Flower Garden. Gardener Gelene Scarborough staggered pots of Tulipa ‘Big Love’ along the pathways leading towards a center display of more tulips paired with Viola ‘Electric Blue’ and Anemone coronaria ‘Admiral’.

Like all the other bulbs these tulips were planted in autumn. Tulip bulbs were packed tightly into frost-free pots filled with a well-draining mixture of peat, perlite and sand. During the winter, Scarborough’s only worry is about them becoming too wet, so she keeps some boards handy to cover the containers as needed.

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Monocot Garden

There is always a spring display of bulbs in the Monocot Garden, but it is downplayed by the surrounding extroverted seasonal displays. Gardener Christopher Bivens created a soft meadow scene with Narcissus ‘Altruist’ (small-cupped daffodil), from 2023’s Pergola display, peaking through a cover crop of Triticum aestivum (wheat) and Secale cereal (rye). The cover crop adds extra nitrogen and organic material by getting incorporated into the soil before the summer display is planted.

Spring is busy but the Gardeners need not worry about their bulbs since all that hard work was done in autumn with planting. However, in late spring many of these bulbs will be dug and most will be redistributed to other garden areas for autumn planting. But that is a task for later!