"What Will Grow Here?"... Introducing Weekly High Line Horticulture

The first of a weekly blog series by our horticulturist Melissa Fisher:


eupatorium Eupatorium rugosum at Greenbelt Native Plant Center
 

Recently, we rode the ferry across to Staten Island and traveled by taxi to one of the Parks Department's best-kept secrets, the Greenbelt Native Plant Center.

Here, hundreds of native plants, including this White Snakeroot, Eupatorium rugosum, are being grown for Section 1 of the High Line (Gansevoort - 20th Streets). Greenbelt is also storing thousands of seeds collected on the High Line in 2006 by volunteers. Some of this seed, including that of Little Bluestem, Schizachyrium scoparium, will be grown for planting in Section 2 (20th - 30th Streets.)

Nursery visits like this are incredibly inspiring--under highly-protected conditions and the watchful eyes of experienced growers, the young plants present themselves with a sort of quiet promise about how they might transform a landscape.

Beginning this Fall with the installation of thousands of perennials, grasses, vines, trees, and shrubs for Section 1, our exciting challenge will be to see the plants through their transition from ideal nursery conditions to the more rugged micro-climates of the High Line. Thirty feet above the street, the temparature can be up to ten degrees warmer or colder than on the ground, high winds often sweep off the Hudson River, and the sun beats down in some areas while others are fully-shaded by buildings that hug the Line.

eupatorium Salvia nemerosa 'Rhapsody in Blue' at the Plant Group
 

With this in mind, it's interesting to consider the High Line planting plans, created by designer Piet Oudolf and Field Operations. With their intentional intermixing of species found on the High Line after its abandonment (such as the White Snakeroot pictured at top) and numerous other selections chosen for their bloom time, seed heads, foliar textures, and seasonal color like this Saliva nemerosa 'Rhapsody in Blue,' the High Line planting scheme is, at once, wild and intentional.

Keep your eyes on this weekly feature for notes on our expectations, observations, and answers to one of our favorite questions: "What Will Grow Here?"

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