Photo by Friends of the High Line
The High Line’s planting design is inspired by the self-seeded landscape that grew up between rail tracks after the trains stopped running in the 1980s. Today, the High Line includes more than 300 species of perennials, grasses, shrubs, and trees – each chosen for their hardiness, adaptability, diversity, and seasonal variation in color and texture. Some of the species that originally grew on the High Line’s rail bed are reflected in the park landscape today.
This week we share one of our gardeners’ current favorites with you.
Astilbe chinensis is a rhizomatous perennial belonging to the Saxifragaceae family. As its specific epithet implies, this plant is native to China and usually found growing along streams, rivers, and forest edges. Astilbe prefers consistently moist soil that is high in organic matter. They will not tolerate prolonged drought. Due to their long-lived blooms and moisture requirements, the plants are commonly used in shade gardens. However, the more sun they receive, the more profuse the blooms will be and the more water they will require.
The foliage of Astilbe chinensis is basal, with deeply toothed compound leaves. The flowers are held above the foliage in small dense panicles, blooming in shades of white, red, purple, or pink. Blooms are long-lived but fade in color, drying on the stem and creating a dramatic infructescence for autumn and winter interest. For this reason, there is no need for deadheading.
There are many Astilbe cultivars with bloom times ranging from April through August. Most cultivars are between one-and-a-half to three feet in height, but dwarf and six-foot-tall selections exist. Here on the High Line, the cultivar ‘Visions in Pink’ is a particularly vigorous grower offering pink flowers in midsummer.
Visions in Pink Astilbe blooms a gorgeous pink in midsummer. Photo by Friends of the High Line
Astilbe is deer-resistant with very few pest problems, although black vine weevil and Japanese beetle damage is sometimes seen. It is hardy in zones four through eight and should be divided every few years to reduce overcrowding and maintain plant health.
WHERE TO SEE THIS PLANT
You can enjoy our Visions in Pink Astilbe in the High Line’s Gansevoort Woodland, Northern Spur Preserve, and 10th Ave Square, between West 13th and West 18th Streets.
Our horticultural team counts on members and friends like you to help keep the High Line beautiful and thriving. Join our community of supporters who play an essential role in the High Line’s most important gardening projects – become a member of Friends of the High Line today!