I want to share my photos from our walk along the High Line in New York City last month.
It was actually our second walk — I left my camera behind on the first. It’s such a remarkable place that my husband, who has limited patience for garden tourism, readily agreed to go back with me.
The High Line is a meadow and woodland park on top of about a mile of abandoned elevated railway line.
It trails through an crowded urban landscape and rather than offer you a retreat from the city, it puts you right up in the city’s face — with apartment windows and construction sites almost within touch and noisy traffic moving below. The juxtaposition is thought-provoking, and the raised views are fascinating.
In early April, of course, we weren’t seeing most of the plants at their best, but it was interesting to see so clearly the arrangement and spacing of the grasses, some emerging perennials, and the shrubs and small trees — as well as the features of the built structure.
The High Line’s planting plans were designed by Piet Oudolf, and I found a good summary of his approach to the meadow areas in an article by Tom Stuart-Smith in The Telegraph.
For Oudolf, planting has always been about creating moods and eliciting emotions. But the [High Line] gains an extra weight by connecting us to how plants grow in the wild. The design becomes much more about creating a plant community rather than a collection of individuals. To take one section of planting . . . , the plan shows a loose matrix of grass species planted throughout; in this case a mix of Panicum virgatum ‘Heiliger Hain’ and Calamagrostis brachytricha spaced about 1-1.5m apart with about 20 other varieties of perennial flower spread through in different-sized groups, from one plant used just singly to another planted in generous groups. The flowers therefore are always seen within a matrix of grasses, just as they might be in nature.
The full article – related to the recent publication of the book Planting, A New Perspective – is very interesting about Oudolf’s technique and influence.
I found my photos weren’t very useful at a few inches wide, so please click on the first thumbnail below to scroll through full-size images.
(The plants of the High Line aren’t labeled, but, you can download a list to take with you here.)