Plant of the Week: Compass Plant

The High Line’s winter landscape is characterized by the dried stalks and seed heads of plants, like the compass plant.

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 with you one of our gardeners’ current favorites.

EnlargeA close-up shot of the plant’s dried stalks and sepals

It may seem strange to feature a plant that is currently dormant as our favorite this week, but at the High Line, dried grasses, stalks, seed heads are play an integral role in the park’s winter landscape. Planting designer Piet Oudolf chose plants for the High Line that celebrate all four seasons and create interest no matter what time of year one might visit. “We went off the traditional path of plants as decoration,” Piet said in the New York Times of this philosophy which was applied to his home garden in the Netherlands. “We tried to work with the seasons, and show that plants are even beautiful after flowering.”

This time of year, the compass plant, Silphium laciniatum has distinctive skeletal stalks that seem to crawl up and spill over the park’s railing. At a closer glance, the stems still contain dried sepals, seed heads, and leaves, hinting towards the plant’s physical form in warmer months. Read more about the compass plant in a Plant of the Week blog post from this past summer.

EnlargeA summer shot of the compass plant’s characteristic yellow blooms

On the High Line between Little West 12th and West 14th Streets, and West 17th and West 20th Streets

Download our January Bloom Guide.

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