Marilyn Young is the Horticulture Assistant at Wave Hill.
Everywhere you look it is beautiful as spring unfolds at Wave Hill, each direction meriting a visit. One that should not be missed is the Shade Border, located in the northeast corner of the property. Researching its history, former Wave Hill gardener Carolyn Hestand Kennedy―also a former Nally intern― discovered that back in the 1970’s Wave Hill founding Director of Horticulture Marco Polo Stufano and John Nally, former Curator of the Gardens, wanting to create a shade garden on the north side of the property, began by planting a few oaks there, leaving them to grow for decades as they focused on more central areas of the garden. Carolyn, then the Shade Border gardener, mentioned to me that “It’s still quite moving to read that they were so farsighted in thinking about this place.” Some of her favorite shade perennials are Paris polyphylla, Anemone sylvestris, Dicentra spectabilis and Corydalis. All are thriving there now.
Harnek Singh now gardens the Shade Border. Over the last few years, he has had to contend with some major changes. Working with Scott Canning, Director of Horticulture and Brian McGowan, Scott’s Assistant Director, they needed to correct a drainage problem caused by rain washing down the path, and rebound from one of the oaks coming down in a winter storm―as well as the death of the venerable Japanese maple at the back entrance. What some see as simply a reason to lament, Harnek has accepted and is able to see it as an opportunity for something new. He has risen to these challenges and the Shade Border is now enchanting.
Plants are always being added as some are moved or taken away. Recently a tree was removed that had grown too large and was overshadowing a large section of the border and crowding the Norley beech tree. Three brilliant orange Rhododendron calendulaceum have been freed to shine in their flowering moment.
Along the path you can also see where one of the original oaks that came down remains as an overturned stump. Harnek planted an unusual variety of hellebores on its side and it appears to have become a home for some creature living here. With both Virginia and Spanish blue bells, columbines, trilliums, primulas, ferns and more abounding below the taller trees and shrubs, you will not be disappointed with a spring stroll through the Shade Border.