Dispatches from the Nursery


[Gay Kepple from Millane Nursery, tagging the tented Hamamelis Pallida for a planting area on the High Line]

Sierra Bainbridge and Maura Rockcastle at Field Operations, the landscape architecture firm leading the High Line design team, have been traveling to plant nurseries around the east coast in search of native plants for the High Line. Planting is projected to begin this spring. Sierra explains what the trips are all about:

“We’re scouring native plant nurseries throughout the region, searching for many of the native trees and shrubs proposed for the High Line.  Some of the native material we have found is a little smaller than planned, which only means it will have more time to naturalize and grow into its new environment.

Our first tagging trip was on February 28, to the north fork of Long Island. There we tagged the first tree for the High Line, the Koelreuteria paniculata (Goldenrain tree) for the area around the stair entrance to the High Line at 14th street. Because the planting beds have very shallow depths, we are planting lots of smaller trees and shrubs so that they will fit and acclimatize to the conditions on the High Line as they grow. We measured a few pre-dug Koelreuteria rootballs to ensure they would fit into the shallow depths of their planting bed, but we ended up choosing trees that are still in the field. We saw a lot of other great plants that day, but we went only for the lovely Koelreuteria.”


[Sierra, left, tagging the first tree for the High Line, with Annette Wilkus from SiteWorks, the planting contract manager. ]


[Tagging the Koelreuteria paniculata]


[Measuring the rootballs]

“Since then, we have visited Hopewell and Moon nurseries, both on March 3rd. There we found some lovely birch for the 10th Avenue Overlook area, near 17th Street. We kept track of each number and took photos of each tree, so that we can indicate where we want each tree to go on the line, depending on size or form. We also found some lovely sassafras (this plant has three different shaped leaves, depending on its age, and some leaves are shaped like mittens, giving it the nickname “the mitten leaf tree”). We saw also saw and tagged some Cercis Canadensis (Eastern Redbud), Chaenomeles speciosa (Flowering quince), and some more, smaller Koelreuteria (Goldenrain tree).”


[Sassafras growing in the field]


[Tagging the sassafras for its location on the High Line]

“On March 11th we visited Millane Nursery in Connecticut to tag Amelanchier laevis (Allegheny Serviceberry) and a few 10′-12′ tall Cercis Canadensis (Eastern Redbud). We found a wild patch of Rhus (Sumac) along the wooded edges of the nursery and Millane was kind enough to agree to dig them for us. Rhus is one of the original pioneer species found on the High Line prior to construction. The nursery folks watched patiently as we scrambled through their woods flagging clusters of wild Rhus, perfect for the “preserve” area of the High Line, near 14th Street. Most of their plant stock was still covered for the winter and we plan to visit them again in early April to look at Cornus sanguinea (Bloodtwig Dogwood), Cotinus coggygria (Smokebush), and Ilex verticillata (Common winterberry) amongst others.”


[Gay Kepple with Cercis Canadensis (Eastern Redbud)]


[Wild Rhus (Sumac) in the field]

“On March 19th we flew to Schichtel’s Nursery south of snow-covered Buffalo in search of some large (20′-22′ tall) and some small (8′-10′) multi-stem Betula populifolia (Gray Birch), more Amelanchier laevis (Allegheny Serviceberry) and Pinus sylvestris (Pitch pine). All of these trees will be located near the Gansevoort St. entry stair, the densest area of trees on the line. The young birches had a smooth light brown bark that will turn a whitish-gray with age. We were lucky to also find Quercus macrocarpa (Bur Oak) at Schichtel’s, which will be located near 18th Street, where the High Line begins to straighten out and run through Chelsea.”


[Bob Smith from Schichtel’s Nursery with the large Gray Birch for the Gansevoort Street entry]


[Tom Ryan, Field Operations construction consultant, with the small multi-stem Gray Birch]


[Pinus sylvestrius (Pitch pine) for near the Gansevoort Street entry]


[Quercus macrocarpa (Bur Oak)]

One Response

  1. Love the Highline. Look forward to your newsletters and checking out the progresss each year when I visit. Thanks for all your hard work. It’s going to be wonderful when it’s finished

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