High Line Blog

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Author: 
Erika Harvey
Photo by Steven SeveringhausWisps of Mexican feather grass gently wave in the spring breeze. GIF by Steven Severinghaus
 

If you’ve visited the High Line recently, you’ve probably noticed that the once-tall dried grasses that characterize the park’s winter landscape have been trimmed back to the ground. This annual “haircut” for the park is called Spring Cutback and the tremendous task takes High Line Gardeners and volunteers four weeks to complete.

Not all of the High Line’s plants are trimmed back during Spring Cutback. The park’s woody perennials, shrubs, and trees may be pruned at other times of year, but they are not trimmed back aggressively as the park’s grasses are. One species of grass that does not get cut back at all is Mexican feather grass, Nassella tenuissima. This slow-growing perennial is left intact making it the only dried grass you’ll see on the High Line right now.

This entrancing GIF by High Line Photographer Steven Severinghaus captures the beauty of Mexican feather grass at this time of year. The dense bunches of dried thread-like blades look almost like hair as they wave in even the slightest breeze. In the background, it’s possible to see the trimmed-back stumps of other varieties of grass. Soon Mexican feather grass – and its wild grass brethren at the High Line – will transition to shades of vivid spring green.

Learn about more plants of interest by viewing our monthly bloom lists.

Author: 
Andi Pettis
Photo by Steven SeveringhausA blue stripe adds color to the pale petals of Puschkinia scilloides var. libanotica. Photo by Steven Severinghaus
 

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: 
Jennette Mullaney
Photo by Mike TschappatOn Monday, more than 20 volunteers came out to help the High Line Gardeners tackle the densely planted Chelsea Grasslands. Photo by Mike Tschappat
 

We're approaching the end of Spring Cutback, an annual endeavor to trim back more than 100,000 plants along the High Line to make room for new growth. This week staff and volunteers began to tackle several densely planted areas, including the Chelsea Grasslands, which stretch from West 17th Street through West 20th Street.

See more photos from the third week of Spring Cutback below.

Author: 
Erika Harvey
Photo by Mike TschappatThis GIF shows the Northern Spur Preserve, on the High Line at West 16th Street, at three different times during the late winter and early spring seasons. Photos by Melissa Mansur
 

It’s difficult to believe that Spring Cutback is nearly finished! Later this week High Line Gardeners and volunteers will wrap this nearly four-week endeavor.

The first spring bulbs and green shoots are tentatively breaking the soil and soaking up every available drop of sunshine. As the cold weather starts to subside – and we promise it will – the High Line’s landscape will transform into full-blown spring glory.

This GIF, comprised of photos by High Line Photographer Melissa Mansur, allows us to look into the increasingly green future of the Northern Spur Preserve. This small offshoot, or “spur,” on the High Line once connected the active freight railway with the Merchants Refrigerating Company, a massive cold storage facility. Now, like the rest of the High Line, the Northern Spur Preserve is home to a wide variety of plants. The varieties chosen for this section of the park are especially meant to evoke the wild landscape that took over the High Line after the trains stopped running. You’ll find a variety of asters, sedges, catmint, and phlox.

Author: 
Jennette Mullaney
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Photo by Timothy SchenckWhether semi- or fully nude, Pan delighted visitors from all over the world during his time on the High Line. Photo by Timothy Schenck
 

Pan, a mischievous-looking satyr, has been charming visitors from his perch at Gansevoort Street for nearly a year. Created by artist Sean Landers, the sculpture is part of Busted, a High Line Art group exhibition.

Author: 
Anne Hunter
Photo by Friends of the High LineSunbathers will flock to the 23rd Street Lawn when it opens to visitors in May. But "right now, the Lawn is covered with a different type of sunbather – the Miss Vain crocus," says High Line Gardener Maeve Turner, who works year-round to keep this space healthy.

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: 
Jennette Mullaney
Photo by Friends of the High LineDespite the steely gray sky, we relished the opportunity to get our (gloved) hands dirty during Wednesday's all-staff Spring Cutback.

We’ve completed our second week of Spring Cutback, reaching the halfway point in our effort to shear back more than 100,000 plants along the High Line. As we trim the dried shrubs and grasses of our winter garden, we make room for the green growth of spring.

See more photos from this past week below.

Author: 
Erika Harvey
Photo by Steven Severinghaus A male cardinal perches atop one of the High Line’s birch trees. Photo by Steven Severinghaus

This week High Line Gardeners and volunteers continued to work to trim back dried grasses along the High Line and visitors rejoiced at every new colorful crocus that popped up. And it turns out that it’s not just our planting beds that are getting a dose of color! We loved this bright cheery male cardinal, Cardinalis cardinalis, that High Line Photographer Steven Severinghaus spotted earlier this week. The spring season marks the beginning of their breeding season, so soon you may see them defending their territories and building nests in wooded areas or other areas of dense foliage.

Steven has an amazing talent for documenting the beautiful and subtle details of the park’s ecology that so many of us miss. See his Flickr photostream for even more examples of flora and fauna from around New York City.

Author: 
Anne Hunter
Photo by Friends of the High LineLeadplant is a deciduous subshrub that grows throughout the High Line. 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: 
Jennette Mullaney
Photo by Liz LigonThe sight of all these bright green buckets dotting our planting beds means winter is on its way out. Photo by Liz Ligon

On Monday we began to trim back the dried grasses and striking seed heads that added beauty and texture to our gardens this long winter. This annual horticultural endeavor, called Spring Cutback, takes four weeks and involves our entire staff, as well as hundreds of volunteers. It's hard work, but there's no better way to greet spring than plant-by-plant on a park in the sky, New York City humming in the background.

See more photos from the first week of 2014 Spring Cutback below.

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