Preparing for Spring Growth

The Chelsea Grasslands this fall. Photo by Bjoern Amherd.

Now that spring is approaching, our gardeners are beginning the cutback process, which will provide space for new growth during the warmer months.  In a traditional garden, plants are cut back when their stalks begin to dry during autumn.   In keeping with planting designer Piet Oudolf’s belief that a plant’s dried seed heads are just as beautiful and important as its flowers, the High Line’s vegetation was left in its natural state.

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February Blooms

Dawn bondant viburnum in bloom.

February is unexpectedly interesting for blooms on the High Line.  This month features three plants: witch hazel (Hamamelis x intermedia ‘Pallida’), Dawn bodnant viburnum (Viburnum x bodnantense ‘Dawn’), and sweet box (Sarcococca hookeriana).

The rose-colored buds in the picture above are the beginnings of blooms on a Dawn bodnant viburnum, a shrub that flowers during the bleakest part of the winter.  Its clusters of flowers have an excellent fragrance in late winter/early spring.

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Herbal Remedies on the High Line

American Coneflower in bloom below the Diller-von Furstenberg Sundeck.

Feeling under the weather? According to High Line gardener Kyla Dippong, the park is a “veritable pharmacy.”  Many of Section 1′s 210 species of plants offer simple remedies, quite a few of which were used by Native Americans long before the advent of the pharmacy as we know it today.

As you continue to battle the cold and flu season, here are a few of our favorite medicinal plants to keep in mind, most of which can be found easily in your local drugstore or herbal remedy shop (but NOT by picking them off the High Line).

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Meet Maeve Turner, High Line Gardener

Maeve Turner using the Dosatron (affectionately named 'Dosie' by the Horticulture staff) to apply compost tea to specific areas of the High Line.

Maeve, one of our five full-time gardeners, has been on staff since the High Line’s opening this past June.  Originally from England, Maeve grew up in Westfield, New Jersey, and first discovered her love for gardening while working at Morning Glory Farm on Martha’s Vineyard, where she helped out with everything from seeding to planting to weeding.  After Morning Glory, Maeve completed an internship at the Brooklyn Botanic Garden (which she says was “awesome”), then worked for a private gardening company.  Each job, she says, was a unique experience, and affirmed that gardening is the work environment she enjoys most.

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2009 in Pictures

Dear Friends,

2009 has been a remarkable year for the High Line. After spending the spring working on the final stages of construction, we opened the first section of the park in June. Since then, we estimate that nearly 2 million people have visited. We hope you were among these first visitors to the High Line, and that you return again and again in 2010.

The High Line’s first year as a public park has been truly amazing. We’ve pulled together some of our favorite pictures from this incredible, historic year. We hope you enjoy them!

We hope you’ll continue to support the High Line as we prepare for 2010.

Many thanks, and happy New Year,

Park visitors stroll and relax on the Diller – von Furstenberg Sundeck between 14th and 15th Streets. The Sundeck is one of the High Line’s most popular gathering spots, especially for sunbathers on bright summer days, and as a place to watch the sunset. Photo by Iwan Baan

“…The High Line is a hit, and not just with tourists but with New Yorkers who are openly relishing a place where they can reflect and relax enough to get a new perspective on Manhattan.”

—Diane Cardwell, For High Line Visitors, Park is a Railway Out of Manhattan, New York Times

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Holly on the High Line

Winter Red winterberry holly with grey birch in the Gansevoort Woodland. Photo by Patrick Cullina.

Here’s another sight-seeing item to add to your holiday list–the Winter Red winterberry holly (Ilex verticillata ‘Winter Red’) that’s brightening the Gansevoort Woodland with clusters of lively red fruits.

The variety of holly that’s typically associated with the holiday season is English Holly (Ilex aquifolium).  The variety on the High Line–Winterberry holly–is a deciduous species that can be found growing in many parts of the Northeast.  It tends to be found in moist areas like the edges of bogs, though is quite adaptable to other landscape conditions.

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December Blooms

[Photo by Bryan Hou, via Flickr]

Happy December!

Up on the High Line, the darkest month of the year is brightened by  19 species of December bloomers. Bundle up, take a walk, and try to spot these brave blossoms, from the Gansevoort Woodland’s hardy and spectacular aromatic aster (Aster oblongifolius ‘Raydon’s Favorite), to  the Chelsea Grassland’s sweet black-eyed susan (Rudbeckia subtomentosa).

View our December Bloom List (PDF)

The High Line horticulture completist can also view the full plant list (PDF)

Winter-Proofing the High Line


High Line gardener Kaspar Wittlinger watering the grasses just south of the Standard Hotel. Photo by Auzelle Epeneter.

Despite the mild weather so far this season, winter is on its way.   Most of the above-ground vegetation on the High Line will lie dormant  in the freezing weather, but in order to ensure that plants survive into the spring, measures must be taken to protect the roots still living beneath the surface.

After the first freeze, the water will be turned off on the High Line in order to protect the pipes.  The soil, too, will harden and no longer absorb moisture.  So while the delicate, dried stalks and leaves don’t require watering now, the gardeners continue to irrigate their roots to provide protection.

The gusts that blow off the Hudson River, just blocks from the High Line, will also pose a challenge to the plants this winter.  “People don’t realize that wind is dry,” gardener Kaspar Wittlinger tells me, “It sucks moisture out of the soil.”  He says woody plants in particular are susceptible to damage–the bark can crack open, similar to the way unprotected skin reacts to icy winds.

November Blooms


Via Josiah Lau's Flickr

If the 5:00 darkness is making you want to crawl into bed until April, it may be time for a walk on the High Line, where the colorful blooms and fall foliage are still going strong!

Of the 210 species of grasses, perennials, shrubs, and trees on Section 1 of the High Line, 40 species are November bloomers. From delicate fall crocuses in the shade of the Washington Grasslands, to the spectacular aromatic aster shown above, to the classy winter white of the bloodtwig dogwood, there are lots of blooms to spot on the High Line this month. Our November bloom list, broken down by area of the High Line, is now available.

View the November Bloom List [PDF]

You can also see a complete plant list [PDF]

Light Trick?


Last week, Kaspar Wittlinger (one of the High Line’s gardeners, hailing all the way from Münster, Germany–like the cheese!) showed me an interesting phenomenon happening right now: the lighting fixtures on the High Line are confusing the aromatic aster.

You’ll notice in the picture above that the bright, purple blooms cover only part of the plant.  That’s because aromatic aster (Aster oblongifolius) is a variety of wildflower that depends on short days and low light, and the lighting fixture installed on the rail has caused the plant to receive a seasonally abnormal amount of light.  On the rail side of the plant, it’s still June!

More photos after the jump.

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