High Line grasses and perennials arrived onsite at 6am this morning. Friends of the High Line Deputy Director of Horticulture Melissa Fisher is working on the installation of the plants along with the High Line construction and landscape team including: SiteWorks, Kelco Landscaping, Inc., The Plant Group, planting designer Piet Oudolf, and landscape architects Field Operations.
On Tuesday night we had our first membership event: a lecture with the High Line’s planting designer, Piet Oudolf. You may have seen Piet’s beautiful work in the gardens at Battery Park City, Millennium Park in Chicago, or at other sites elsewhere around the world.
Piet discussed his theory of planting design, which he describes as “inspired by nature”. He then took us through the planting design plan for the High Line. The planting beds will vary based on the landscape design; some areas will be planted to feel more like a meadow, some a prairie, some woodland, and so on. This variation is based on the different microclimates that developed naturally on the High Line after trains stopped running on it. Piet also uses perennials that require less maintenance, and will look good throughout all four seasons.
Another one of Piet’s presentations is on our website.
Photos from Tuesday’s presentation are after the jump.
The New York Times ran a weekend profile on Dutch planting designer Piet Oudolf, who is now at work on plans for the High Line. The Home & Garden piece paints Piet as somewhat of a revolutionary in his holisitic approach to plant life cycle. He claims,“The skeletons of the plants are for me as important as the flowers,” and picks plant species for their structural integrity, even in the leafless dead of winter.
The garden of Piet’s farm house in Hummelo, in the Dutch countryside, is the designer’s laboratory. Pictures of Hummelo can be seen here (PDF), taken from a presentation Piet gave to Friends of the High Line last year.
James Corner, the principal of Field Operations, who’s working with Piet on the landscape design for the High Line, said, “He’s like a really good chef. He knows his ingredients in a much deeper way than an amateur. He’s a master of the medium.”
Looking out over his perennial meadow, Mr. Oudolf articulated it this way: “You look at this, and it goes deeper than what you see. It reminds you of something in the genes — nature, or the longing for nature.” Allowing the garden to decompose, he added, meets an emotional need in people.
“You accept death. You don’t take the plants out, because they still look good. And brown is also a color.”
A Landscape in Winter, Dying Heroically (New York Times)
Slide Show: Artfully Planned Decay (New York Times)
Piet’s Web Site, with a 360 degree panorama of Hummelo
Piet has also written three fantastic books with beautiful photographs. The most recent is called Planting Design: Gardens in Time and Space. (Amazon)