Wednesday, July 9, 2014

The changing High Line


When Paul and Sonya visited recently and told us about their walk along the High Line, I realized it might have been over year since I had been there, last. So after a quick trip into the weekend crush of tourists walking at the pace of cold moh-lasses at the Chelsea Market, we climbed the stairs at West 16th and hiked the High Line's length, north.


The orange Helenium were at their peak of flowering.


It is still Allium time, too.


I have only seen lead plant growing on the beaches of Staten Island, before, and those are golden. This is Amorpha canescens, I think.


The biggest change along the whole High Line, is construction. Like this: CONSTRUCTION.

We think we counted about 15 major sites, on either side of the old railway (Vince has written about this.)


High Line above.

What will rise beside it, below.


The significance of this, as any gardener will know, is shade, and a changed microclimate. Right plant = right place. But now the right plants will be the wrong plants. The shade is a real pain, because the plants that enjoy the prairie light  from the east and the west right now, will have to be removed and replaced. Thousands of them. Think of the money.

The High Line is already a highly managed horticultural environment. It is naturalized, but it is not natural; the effect remains wonderful. The massive numbers of perennials needing care - dead heading, cutting back, dividing, removing as they outgrow a tight space - all of this is tightly controlled. But the loss of the light must be a blow, and an ironic sign of the High Line's success. I am sure real estate values have risen not just because New York is New York, but because the High Line has made this sliver of aerial park one of the hottest spots in town.

Soon to be become considerably cooler.

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9 comments:

  1. !!!***b&&&&er &#** And any other expletives you care to use. I missed it because of snow, the first time.And last year...other meetings, heat,crowds...all sorts of things. Now? I'll never see the wonderful thing it was designed to be. What the hell is wrong with the place!! Stupid question - when people have enough money to throw at something....

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    1. You will see the beautiful thing it was re-designed to be.

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  2. Shade plants can be gorgeous too. Don't worry - it will be OK.

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    1. I'm not worried. I just think it is a very interesting effect, and one that can only be accommodated in a very high end park. I am very fond of Northeastern shade lovers and have no doubt that what will be done, will be done well. But I will miss the sun lovers, and the sense of wide open space that prevailed.

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  3. I too was surprised to see so much construction and hope that it means there's an increase in appreciation for green spaces. I was also surprised at how loud the construction way. I didn't expect the garden to be quiet, but I did expect it to be a little quieter than it was. As we drove only a block or two west of the High Line on our way to Wave Hill the next morning, I was interested to see very large beds planted with trees and a few with roses. Some appeared to be maintained, but as we moved north, they became weedy in a hurry...and not the beautiful weedy of the High Line.

    I sort of expect the High Line to be reworked pretty regularly as long as there's money to do it. One of the first things we saw was a sign that said "Restoration in Progress". The shade from trees in the design is already much more significant than it was at planting. I recognize that an insta-building is a different sort of shade and without gradual transition, but as Dinamow said, when people have money to throw at something... Hopefully they decide to throw it at the High Line and for similarly styled plantings in other areas. It really was lovely.

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    1. saw a very interesting hour on PBS this week about the development of the High Line and it made me even more anxious to make it the center of our next visit to the city, it did sound, tho, like the horticulture folks in charge know what they are doing.

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  4. My comment seemed to fail the log in. Oh well, you know I was just being cynical anyways. There are some sweet shady spots, I gather there will be more. Alas, I do not see most on the high line being particularly interested in the plants -they love to point to their favorite buildings however. I can't believe I wrote this in 2009, so long ago...http://nycgarden.blogspot.com/2009/08/promenade.html

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    1. Frank, thanks for the link! It's fascinating to see how much it has changed since you wrote that. The sumacs are so tiny! I wish I lived close enough to visit every year and every season to watch/note/learn from how it changes. Its slow evolution (regardless of manipulations) makes it soooo much more fascinating to me. I much prefer this sort of garden to one that is maintained to look exactly the same all the time.

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  5. I would love to visit this! I've never been to NYC & there are a lot of places there I'd like to see.

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