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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