Walk from the parking lot to enter Wave Hill, and it’s like ‘Wow!’ You see the expanse of the Palisades, the Hudson, and a garden of unexpected and overwhelming beauty.
Gardening is all about the layers — layers of plants, shrubs, and trees. Layers of textures and colors, flowers, leaves, bark. As one species fades another blooms and that occurs spring, summer, fall and winter—there is perpetual flowering. The Englewood Cliffs across the river frame a backdrop and now with the beautiful fall color it adds to what we do.
As one of seven Gardeners at Wave Hill, we each maintain about 4 acres of the 28-acre grounds. I care for three major areas including the Visitors Center, pruning, mulching, planting, and composting. I drive a tractor, a bobcat, I fix machines. I am the go-to guy — if it needs fixing, it comes to me.
I used to work in a high-end bike shop as a mechanic. I needed something different, to be outdoors, to work with nature. I went to Bronx Community College for horticulture. I worked six days a week. It took five years to earn my degree. It was tough.
Working outdoors easily puts a smile on your face. I think of myself as an artist—every time I create a space I look at it with appreciation. I’m satisfied. I also see ways to improve and with input from my coworkers, we figure out what works.
Wave Hill is a garden—not a park—so kids cannot climb the trees and there is no picnicking. Visitors always commend us and thank us for how well we maintain these gardens. It’s like a pat on the back and that always feels good.
Wave Hill is a sanctuary for some. People come here to get away from the hectic pace. The garden gives them a chance to bond with nature.
It’s a breathtaking space where you can pull up an Adirondack chair to sit in the sun — or shade — and enjoy the view. It’s a slice of heaven.
Albert Cabrera, Wave Hill Gardener Local 374