One of the most gratifying bonuses for those of us who dwell in New York City is the plethora of sylvan acres available for peaceful contemplation and dalliance. Putting aside Central Park, an 834 acre oasis in the center of Manhattan island, the most visited urban park in the world, many of the city’s residents, as well as tourists, may not be aware of the other parks and gardens that are just a quick subway ride from Midtown. While access to Central Park is free to all, and gardens such as the Bronx Botanical Garden and Brooklyn Botanical Garden charge an entrance fee, unless a visitor happens by on one of the sponsored free admission days, there are some spots in the city that offer an escape from the urban landscape straight into a glorious setting befitting of a Merchant Ivory film for a very nominal fee. The most spectacular of these just may be Wave Hill, a 28 acre estate in the Hudson Hill section of Riverdale, Bronx, with expansive views across the river to the New Jersey Palisades. And now that Autumn is about to flame on with its full spectrum of color, the moment is perfect to plan a visit.
Wave Hill is open from Tuesday through Sunday and is closed on Mondays, but this past Columbus Day the garden hosted a very special event that attracted many visitors of every age. “Skyhunters in Flight” was an outdoor flight demonstration with master falconer Brian Bradley of New Paltz, New York, that featured hawks, falcons and owls sharpening their hunting skills and greeting visitors while perched on the falconer’s glove. Bradley gave his audience a brief history of the ancient sport of falconry, and demonstrated the hunting and flight skills of his raptor friends. The event took place on a tree ringed expanse of green grass that allowed Bradley ample room to display and demonstrate the prowess of the magnificent feathered creatures. Bradley began the presentation with a downy white Barn Owl, whose steady gaze took in the assembly of spectators with the calm poise of a Jedi knight. A courageous little girl volunteered to lure the falcon with a faux rabbit, pulling it behind her across the grass with the raptor in pursuit. She expertly let go of the furry incentive in the knick of time, leaping away as the fierce bird swooped onto the grass behind her. A horned owl was offered a deceased mouse to swallow before the entranced audience. A glorious white hawk from the Arctic took flight for the finale, the Hudson River and the Palisades gleaming in the background.
Wave Hill offers a wide variety of events and attractions for nature lovers of every age, and many of these are family focused, offering wonderful opportunities to entertain and educate youngsters about their living environment. The upcoming Honey Weekend, taking place on October 17 & 18, offers a buzz-worthy range of activities, from candle-making and honey-extraction demonstrations to a “Be a Bee” Family Art Project that has become a classic. Visitors will meet local beekeepers in The Shop, where a delectable selection of local, artisanal honeys and honey-infused lotions, creams and lip balms will be available. The Harvest Weekend, taking place on November 21 & 22, offers a cornucopia of programs that celebrate the bounty of the harvest season, starting with a much loved Family Art Project and including pie-making, an intriguing art project and an arousing string-band performance. Also on the calendar is a Perfect Pumpkin Pie Workshop, Candle Making Workshop and a Honey Extraction Demonstration, among many other Fall highlights at the gardens.
Wave Hill was originally built as a country home by jurist William Lewis Morris in 1843. Between the years of 1866 and 1903, it was owned by the publishing scion William Henry Appleton, who twice during his tenure enlarged the house. Among the renters of the estate were the family of Theodore Roosevelt and the writer Mark Twain. The conductor Arturo Toscanini resided at Wave Hill from 1942-1945, and in 1960 the estate was deeded to the City of New York by the Perkins-Freeman family. The special features of Wave Hill’s gardens include an Alpine House and Dry Garden, Aquatic & Monocot Garden, Bee hives in the woodland area, The Herbert & Hyonja Abrons Woodland, 10 acres of native second-growth forest, with a woodland path that stretches around the perimeter of the property, the Marco Polo Stufano Conservatory, including a cactus room and a tropical room, the Perennial Flower Garden Pergola and vistas of the Hudson River and the New Jersey Palisades. Special Collections include the Shade Border, Elliptical Garden and Conifer Slope Wild Garden.
W 249th St,
Bronx, NY 10471
March 15–October 31
Grounds open 9AM–5:30PM
The Shop open 9AM-4PM
Glyndor Gallery and The Cafe open 10AM–4:30PM
Greenhouses open year-round 10AM–Noon; 1PM–4PM
Closed Mondays except Memorial Day, Labor Day and Columbus Day
Closed New Year’s Day, Thanksgiving, Christmas
845 853 3173