coming home


Louis Bauer, Director of Horticulture, Wave Hill

It wasn’t just a mess.  It was falling apart.  I would have fled.  Louis Bauer stayed and made Greenwood Gardens into a destination.  The Greenwood story is an interesting one.  It is not a restoration or re-creation.  It’s a melding of the old and re-imaging of the new.

The task before Bauer was to synthesize the original Arts and Crafts garden and house, with the nineteen fifties, mock Georgian replacement house and a landscape that reflected the new owners taste and limited resources.

Rookwood tiles

Over time massive amounts of clipped hedges became walls, allees of trees disappeared,  greenery became overgrown, pathways were hidden under turf and garden architecture  obscured. This is the situation Louis Bauer faced. What to do?

Bauer is a smart guy.  He began “reclothing” the garden in 2003.  He turned what many would have seen as a negative into a positive.  “Our small staff and limited resources, made us very thoughtful.  We walked a tightrope.  There were no plant records, just lots and lots of black and white photographs of the garden taken over a 50 year period.  My questions:  what to use, what to discard, what to edit?” Louis Bauer.

Greenwood pergola

He began with the architecture.  There is lots of it.  The original arts and crafts design took advantage of the slopped site:  walls, steps, garden follies, columnar pergolas and beautiful tiles.  Like all gardeners, Bauer breathed a sigh of relief when the earth moving ended.  Now, it was time to delve into horticulture.  Some hedges were clipped, some replaced with shrub borders, trees pruned, perennials added and a partnership formed with the Garden Conservancy.


Bauer seemed tentative about Greenwood’s future.  He made this New Jersey estate beautiful again.  His appointment as Director of Horticulture at Wave Hill demands something different.  Sensing his cautiousness, someone in the audience asked Bauer what he wanted to do at Wave Hill.   Bauer began his career at Wave Hill as a gardener.  He knows it well.  And he also knows that Wave Hill has been well taken care of by a roster of A-list Horticulture Directors.  He admitted that plant-wise very little was needed.  Instead he plans to concentrate on the architectural aspects of the garden.  I am excited to see what changes he will make.

January 22, 2014
Louis Bauer
Greenwood Gardens:  Transforming a Country House into a Public Place for Horticulture.

2014 Wave Hill Horticulture Lectures

Upcoming Lectures:
Margery Daugtrey: Dreadful Diseases Dangling Over Old Faithful Ornamentals
February 19

William Culina:  What Do You Mean I’m Not a Perennial?  Native Shrubs and Small Trees for Perennial Companionship
March 19

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