A walk along the High Line in April

The High Line, NYC/enclos*ure

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.

The High Line, NYC/enclos*ure

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.

The High Line, NYC/enclos*ure

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.)

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8 thoughts on “A walk along the High Line in April

  1. That garden is even amazing without anything blooming! I want a track going through my yard…or at least along one property line!!:)

  2. A superb tour! The High Line is somewhere I’ve always wanted to see, so I can’t thank you enough for taking me there. The planting looks like it would be stunning come mid summer with Oudolf’s passion for grasses. I love seeing urban scenes and gardens and this really combines the two – a mix of industrial and green.
    I hear that the landscape team/guy behind the High Line is working on creating a similar space in the Olympic Park in east London, it will be fascinating to see what they do there.
    I think I’ll stop now before I get carried away !

    1. It’s an easy place to get carried away about. So interesting in so many ways: the planting design, of course, but also the industrial architecture, the views of the city street life, people watching, history and preservation, art. . . .

      I hope I’ll be able to visit in early fall in the next couple of years.

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