High Line Blog

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Author: 
Erika Harvey
Photos by Melissa MansurThis GIF shows the High Line at West 20th Street at three points during the spring season: before Spring Cutback, after Spring Cutback, and later in spring as new growth takes over the planting beds. Photos by Melissa Mansur
 

After the winter that we’ve had, tomorrow’s 50° F (or 10° C) will feel almost balmy. Regardless of the temperature, the spirit of spring has already begun to infuse the city and our staff with fond thoughts of the season ahead. Behind the scenes here, High Line Gardeners are prepping their buckets, shears, and wheelbarrows for the beginning of our largest horticultural task of the year, Spring Cutback, which kicks off next week.

Author: 
Thomas Smarr
Photo by Mike TschappatCutting back dried stems and leaves allows fresh growth to flourish in your garden. Photo by Mike Tschappat
 

We celebrate our gardens year-round at the High Line, paying special attention to the beauty of untouched perennials in the autumn and winter, and preparing for the burst of growth in the spring and array of colors throughout the summer. Here are some ways we prepare the gardens in spring.

Author: 
Anne Hunter
Photo by Friends of the High LineThe young bur oaks, Quercus macrocarpa, growing on the High Line have distinctive corky ridges along their limbs. 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.

Author: 
Erika Harvey
Photo by Phil VachonVerdant tufts of grass fight their way through a melting layer of snow at the 23rd Street Lawn. Photo by Phil Vachon
 

This inspiring image by High Line Photographer Phil Vachon offers a good reminder – especially on cold days like today – of the pleasures of the warmer season ahead. By summer, the park’s 23rd Street Lawn will be carpeted with lush grass and playing host to High Line Kids programs, leisurely picnics, first dates, and even urban sunbathers.

While the grass is most certainly greener on the other side of winter, this time of slow transition offers emerging hints and signs of the coming season. At the High Line, excitement is building among our gardeners and volunteers for Spring Cutback, and around the city, residents dream of picnics and strolls to be enjoyed. Spring is just around the corner (we promise)!

Learn more about how winter affects the High Line’s plants in a recent post by Director of Horticulture, Thomas Smarr.

Author: 
Thomas Smarr
Photo by Eddie CrimminsAlthough the snow has finally begun to melt, continued bitterly cold temperatures may delay the emergence of spring blooms. Photo by Eddie Crimmins
 

We typically can predict that winters will be cold and summers will be warm, but the more subtle dynamics of weather are much harder to foresee. This winter we have experienced a constant pattern of lasting, significant cold temperatures along with repeated snowfalls that kept piling up throughout late January into late February. It appears we are finally getting through the most severe part of this tough winter, but it will leave a lasting effect on our landscape.

Author: 
Clay Grable
Photo by Friends of the High LineMichael Vitiello examines a book of old West Side Line (a.k.a. the High Line) advertisements in the Williamson Library. Photo by Friends of the High Line
 

On the wall of Michael Vitiello’s office, hidden in the upper levels of Grand Central Terminal, hangs a bronzed fedora. It belonged to Paul "Tick Tock" Kugler, the last clock master of Grand Central, who wore it to work there every day of his 47-year career. Michael, Grand Central's supervisor of building maintenance, is the last person Tick Tock trained to service the station’s old self-winding clocks before he retired at age 70. The sole survivor of these “master clocks” also hangs in Michael’s office, a space that feels less like a workplace than a peek into an era that has slipped away.

Author: 
Kaspar Wittlinger
Photo by Friends of the High LineAmsonia hubrichtii, the threadleaf bluestar, grows throughout 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.

Author: 
Erika Harvey
Photo by Mike TschappatAn American robin caught on camera mid-feast, on the High Line at West 23rd Street. Photo by Mike Tschappat
 

This past week, visitors were treated to a surprising sight: a large flock of robins had descended upon the Eastern red cedar trees on the High Line, bouncing back and forth between the branches and feasting on the trees’ bright blue berries. At times, a nearby mockingbird could be seen attempting to defend his buffet of berries, with little luck.

Author: 
Kyla Dippong
EnlargeThe seed heads of the swamp rose mallow add texture to the High Line's winter garden. Photo by Juan Valentin

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.

Hibiscus moscheutos ssp. palustris, the swamp rose mallow, is a year-round star of the wetland plantings on the Diller – von Furstenberg Sundeck. It is hard to miss in the summertime, thanks to its huge (up to six inches) saucer-shaped pink flowers. Although each flower only opens for one day, the plant continues to produce blooms throughout the season. It has stand-out leaves, which spread to the size of a large hand and have a smooth, velvety texture. These large leaves and flowers give the swamp rose mallow a tropical feel, but it is a great New York native, with many cousins native to warmer climates. This fast growing herbaceous perennial can reach more than six feet tall, and grow almost as wide, producing a shrub-like habit. Where it has space it can spread easily and colonize large areas.

Author: 
Amelia Krales
Photo by Gene DalyHigh Line Photographer Gene Daly captured this image of a side street off of our park.
 

Photographer Gene Daly has a talent for photographing quiet city moments. His black-and-white images catch the subtle layers and rich textures of street scenes. In this photograph, he turns the usually unattractive netting of construction scaffolding into a frame, directing his viewer's attention to a Chelsea street in soft focus.

The High Line is an excellent perch from which to view the city. At 30 feet above the street, our park allows visitors to take in Manhattan's West Side from a unique vantage point. On your next visit, why not spend a moment enjoying the beauty of the quieter side streets from our park in the sky?

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