Photo by Steven Severinghaus
As fall fades to winter, many of us are experiencing mixed feelings. Very few of us look forward to the lower temperatures and shorter daylight hours that characterize these months. It can also be difficult to let go of the verdant richness of summer and the profusion of blooms that take their turns on center stage throughout the warmer months of the year. For most of us, gardens during this time of year are “dead” – lifeless shadows of their previous warm-weather glory.
This recent photo by High Line Photographer Steven Severinghaus is a reminder of how beautiful a winter garden can be, even on the gloomiest of days. High Line lanting designer Piet Oudolf – whose gardens include New York City's Battery Park as well as a roster of impressive gardens around the world – is a leader in the “New Perennial” movement. This movement embodies a garden design philosophy that strives to incorporate perennials and grasses, not only for their blooms, but for their structure. During this time of year, as the distractions of leaf color and flowers fade, the architectural aspects of plants can be so much better appreciated. And as Piet has said, the skeletons are as important as the flowers.
In January 2008 – months before the High Line’s opening – the New York Times ran a story on Piet and his home garden in Hummelo, the Netherlands. Touring a garden in winter might seem strange, but it highlights Piet’s truly four-season approach to gardening. Pointing out species of plants left to overwinter in his own garden, Piet remarked, “You look at this, and it goes deeper than what you see. It reminds you of something in the genes – nature, or the longing for nature.” Allowing the garden to decompose, he added, meets an emotional need in people. “You accept death. You don’t take the plants out, because they still look good. And brown is also a color.”
And if you’d prefer to enjoy the winter landscape from the warmth of your own home, you can see more of Steven’s and other photographers’ winter photos in the High Line Flickr Pool.