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A Summer Jaunt Collecting Auction Items

Louis Bauer is Wave Hill’s Director of Horticulture.

Wednesday night two weeks ago I took off for Copake Falls, NY, and the home of Margaret Roach, blogger extraordinaire (awaytogarden.com). It was the first leg of a 24-hour circuit collecting some of the choice items to be auctioned at our annual Gardeners’ Party, which happens on September 15 this year. The next morning I set out for Great Barrington, MA, in the Berkshire Hills. My first stop was Windy Hill Farm, one of those gardener’s treasures. There I picked up two donations. The first is Abies concolor ‘Berkshire Blue’ (white fir cultivar). This fir will be in the silent auction, as will the Stewartia pseudocamellia that I picked up at Windy Hill. The stewartia will be paired with perennials and a copy of plantsman Dave Culp’s inspiring volume The Layered Garden. And we picked up a peach tree, which will be part of an orchard collection we’re curating for the auction: I expect we will add one or two more trees to the peach, as well as an orchard ladder and some choice fruit literature. The first three shots here of our gardeners working with me early Friday morning in the Hort Courtyard—virtually all hands on deck—to unload our precious cargo. First the fir…..

6 pine-comes-out-27 getting-the-pine-straightThen the Stewartia….

3 Stewartia-out-of-van

4 Stewartia-out-of-van-2

5 Stewartia-getting-it-straightIt was a scorcher, even at 8:30 that morning. Between the stem and the roots of each tree, I am guessing that each one weighed between 50 and 500 pounds. And had to be moved with the greatest care to avoid damaging the root structure.

My next stop was a visit with famed design gurus Bunny Williams and her husband John Rosselli, another pair we are saluting at this year’s party. I want to rave about Bunny and John’s donation to the auction. Take a look at this Italian Baroque terracotta urn with handles, pictured here as we stand around the van figuring out the best way to unload it.


Urn-2It’s from their collection of antique garden objects’ this one is close to a century old. Bunny and John have been travelling the world looking for wonderful garden objects that can help American gardeners create spectacular outdoor spaces around this kind of handsome container. This one is a gem, and I anticipate strong interest on the evening of the Gardeners’ Party.Urn-3

Urn-4Then it was on to lunch nearby, with Page Dickey and Bosco Schell’s home, in Falls Village. They are one of the seven pairs of garden artists we are saluting at this year’s party. (More about the others later.) We will be curating a group of native shrubs and self-seeding annuals for the auction, and I knew that these are of great interest to Page and Bosco as they plan a new garden. So that was a very useful conversation to have. Indeed, one of our treasured auction items this fall will be a collection―inspired by Page and Bosco―of favorite shrubs with a mix of self-sowing flower seeds and select bulbs, all in the interest of adding a nature-friendly flair to one’s garden.

The last stop of the day was a visit to Ken Twombly in Madison, CT. Ken is a long-time nurseryman who sells by appointment only. From Ken we received the donation of a beech―Fagus sylvatica ‘Dawyck Gold’. As its name suggests, the beech turns a lovely, warm gold color in spring. The beech is the tallest of the trees I brought back home to Wave Hill. Its height was especially challenging as we unloaded it.

1 first-tree-out-of-van Beech

2 Beech-28 Beech hard-workThe smallest tree I brought back was a dwarf columnar European hornbeam (Carpinus betulus ‘Columnaris Nana’), also donated most generously by Ken. This hornbeam may be small, but it holds its own in the garden. I have seen it used well in containers by two of my favorite gardeners, Marco Polo Stufano and Andrea Filippone.

These were not the very first of this year’s treasures to arrive, and there will be a steady stream over the next six weeks. Stay posted.


One thought on “A Summer Jaunt Collecting Auction Items

  1. Pingback: Concolor Fir ‘Berkshire Blue’ Debuts at the Auction | Wave Hill Blog

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