High time on the High Line

Just as my roses were starting; the very moment my gifted peonies were about to reveal their true color; when the elderberry began to bear flowers for the first time in its life; before the stipa grew feathers and the tansy, lace, I left town for NYC. It was high time to pay a friend of mine a visit and it’s been 4 years – much too long since I’ve been to The City. So on the eve of Memorial Day weekend, I landed in at Penn Station with both walking feet and a full bladder. (FYI, the ladies’ at Macy’s is on the second floor, all the way to the back.)

Of all the places that my excellent tour guide and I walked to, over, through or around (including but not limited to the Brooklyn bridge, Battery Park, Trinity Wall Street, Hank’s – a dive bar, the Old Town – an ancestral bar, the Brooklyn Flea, Staten Island, and Ditmas Park) the High Line impressed me the most. The High Line is a historical elevated freight train line hovering above the very edge of Chelsea. The track bed has been recently repurposed as a park with walkways, public event spaces, benches and what must be literally tons of cool, tough-as-nails plants. Not only do I find it a little bit incredible that hordes of people walk up stairs to get to it (though if I lived in NYC and didn’t have a garden bigger than my windowsill, I’d probably hoof it up stairs in search of a garden too) but its design is truly sublime. They’ve managed to plant a lot of interesting things from amelanchiers to alliums while leaving the merest hint of nostalgic windblown dereliction growing through the train tracks. It’s genius.

I feel like I could live in NYC. I’m envious that my friend’s neighborhood has more natural food stores and farm-to-table restaurants in a one block radius than I have within 25 miles. With a little practice, I feel like I too could maybe navigate the subway without always ending up in New Jersey. But RI is home. My garden lives here and I don’t have to climb stairs to get to it. (And my gifted peonies are still blooming – white, hugely puff-tastic and wicked fragrant. Thanks, Layanee!)

5 thoughts on “High time on the High Line

  1. Kris: I think you might need a pink also! You are so welcome. I can’t believe you mentioned The High Line as someone just told me about it on Saturday at the Atwater Garden Tour. If perfection exists in a garden, surely it is at Berta’s. Anyway. Thanks for those pictures of the tracks. It is on the list to visit.

  2. Oh lucky you! I have so wanted to see it and understand how a train track becomes a park. That Piet Odulf…You didn’t even mention Battery Park but would love to hear your impressions of it, too (wait, was Piet for the Battery or the High Line? I forget). And there’s nothing like a shot of city to make our own little gardens feel more like home. The only thing that would make this better were if your excellent photos were just the weeensiest bigger. We just want more!

  3. Geez, I forgot that Piet was involved in one of those… Want to say Battery Pk… And I ran so quickly through there that I’ll have to go back to form a proper impression. I’ll have to check my photo export settings! – I was kind of bummed at how small the pics were too. But I’ll bring my laptop to the Buffs for a show&tell. (you too?) -kris

  4. Layanee, I’m sorry I didn’t go on that tour but Gail has promised me we can go “any time” (except during planting week – which is May through June…) And if you have a pink peony on offer, I definitely have a need for a piece of it! -kris

  5. i can’t wait until i get to experience the high line myself. it was “in the works” while i was in RI during grad school, and i thought it was a brilliant idea.
    yes, piet is/was the big name behind the plant schedule, but there were other landscape firms, contractors and nurseries involved in its selection. some were good ideas, others more far fetched. i’m glad they left room for the nostalgic windblown dereliction… for it was up there all along for the pigeons to enjoy. now we get to enjoy it too! thanks for sharing your visit with us.

    Andrea, Next time you’re in this neighborhood, let’s make a trip down. I’d aim to go there again in any season… -kris

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