Louis Bauer is Wave Hill’s Senior Director of Horticulture.
Earlier this week I shepherded our crew of five John Nally interns to the fifth anniversary of New York Botanical Garden’s “Annual Green Industry Intern Field Day,” informally known as “Hortie Hoopla,” an event for horticultural interns and future professionals in the field.
Our Nallies have already been at work at Wave Hill for more than three months, so the afternoon was a good moment for them to pause in their demanding and, this week anyway, hot and humid work.
This early May shot of our current Nallies, Ayuki Akimoto, Christopher Bivens, Claudia Fugalli, Evita Rodriguez and Patrick C. Nyes, demonstrates an already impressive collaborative spirit.
In addition to welcoming remarks by the New York Botanical Garden, Fergus Garrett, head gardener at Great Dixter House & Garden was skyped in to offer his own welcome from Great Britain. Our Assistant Gardener Coralie Thomas has spent most of the last year at Great Dixter, by the way, as the first North American Christopher Lloyd Scholar, getting a practical education in the traditional style of ornamental gardening as practiced at two of the world’s most respected gardens, Great Dixter in East Sussex, England, and Chanticleer near Philadelphia. We expect Coralie back at Wave Hill this fall, in time for the busy harvest season in our gardens.
Each year, the organizers of Hortie Hoopla invite five professionals in the field to tell their own stories, horticulture being one of those career paths that tend to take many unexpected turns. Along with colleagues from the Prospect Park Alliance, Brooklyn Botanic Garden, Brooklyn Bridge Park and the New York Botanical Garden, I was happy to contribute my own tale, which certainly has had its own twists and turns.
In high school, my interest was in art and mathematics, and by the time I was headed to college I had developed a keen interest in traditional architecture. When the cost of that academic path became just too burdensome, and I became too impatient, I took a sharp detour into the world of graphics and publishing. But after a dozen years or so, I began to miss growing things—I’d grown up among farmers—so I took a job at a florist and garden shop in Brooklyn. And that’s when I met Margaret Roach, Ken Druse and Marco Polo Stufano, among others. In the summer of 1993, with Wave Hill’s Gardeners’ Party fast approaching, I learned from Margaret that Marco was desperate for some volunteer help in the garden, so I took myself up to the Bronx. By early 1994, I was on staff. What followed was a decade in the gardens here, another ten at Greenwood Gardens in New Jersey, and then a happy return to Wave Hill in early 2014.
Not surprisingly, this year’s Nallies come to Wave Hill from varied work paths. One was working on a hydroponic farm, it’s true, and one in a wood shop, but the other three were most recently a technical writer, employed in a ceramics studio and working in an office in a midtown high-rise. You can expect to hear from the Nallies themselves later in the growing season.