Winter Landscapes on the High Line

Winter grasses on the High Line Grasses on the High Line show a multitude of colors during the colder seasons. Photo by Rich Nacin.

If you visit the High Line during the coming months, you'll find its wintry surroundings to be a place that offers quiet, restful reflection. While autumn's landscape was marked by bold, fiery exclamations, December ushers in a special subtlety–you will have to look close to see the modest beauty.

"Once the leaves drop, there are a host of possibilities that open up throughout the landscape," says Patrick Cullina, Vice President of Horticulture & Operations at the High Line. "In the Gansevoort Woodland, for instance, scores of birches now appear as slender white lines above a carpet of tawny grasses. On the lower sundeck, the twisting angles of a variety of sumacs punctuate a robust meadow above 10th Avenue. There are many aesthetic discoveries–large and small–to be enjoyed throughout the park all winter long."

EnlargeSumac branches

Some of our favorite seasonal features are the woody plants along the High Line. During the colder months, the absence of foliage reveals shapes and textures that are not as visible during other times of the year. Right now, for example, the bark of the gray birches (Betula populifolia) in the Gansevoort Woodland has presented itself in a soft, white-silver color. The three-flowered maples (Acer triflorum) in the 10th Avenue Square, too, have a beautiful, peeling, cinnamon-colored bark. Later in the season, be sure to keep an eye out for the Midwinter Fire bloodtwig dogwood (Cornus sanguinea 'Midwinter Fire')–a shrub whose branches will add splashes of bright crimson and orange to the gray and brown palette.

EnlargeWinterberry holly

Another special facet of the season is the different seed heads and fruits that some of the plants have produced. Winterberry holly (Ilex verticillata 'Winter Red' and Ilex verticillata 'Southern Gentleman') in the Gansevoort Woodland is a favorite among birds in the area. The cutleaf staghorn sumacs (Rhus typhina 'Laciniata') on the lower-level of the Diller-von Furstenberg Sundeck have a velvety, grape-like fruit that has been intriguing visitors lately.

Come out and explore. If you don't already have a copy, we recommend picking up our Fall/Winter 2010 Plant Guide. And, download our December Bloom List.

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