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Photo by Lawrence Sumulong

5 things that make the High Line gardens special + highlights from garden designer Piet Oudolf’s visit

September 19, 2022

I’m thrilled to be the new Director of Horticulture at the High Line, which I believe is one the most important public gardens of this century! I began my 20-year career in horticulture in Los Angeles, where I most recently was the Assistant Deputy Director at the Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County working on the master plan for the La Brea Tar Pits Museum. But plants are my passion so working in a Piet Oudolf-designed garden was an opportunity I couldn’t pass up.

After a five-year hiatus, Piet recently visited the High Line and saw firsthand how much things have changed. He took the time to meet with each gardener to hear the challenges they were encountering and discuss solutions to help the gardens evolve. Getting his feedback—as well as understanding his intuitive approach to planting design—was invaluable. His continued collaboration helps inform our strategies to keep the High Line gardens looking spectacular.

See highlights from Piet’s visit in the video below:

I look forward to seeing you in the park!

Richard Hayden

Richard Hayden
Director of Horticulture

Richard’s Top 5:

Flowers on the High Line

CaptionPhoto by Lou Aguilar

1) Experiencing the High Line is a carefully planned and composed journey—each garden purposely blends and contrasts with the next to evoke different emotional experiences.

The sun sets behind the High Line

CaptionPhoto by Timothy Schenck

2) The plantings are artfully combined to have blooms and textures that rise and fall in succession so that there is always something of interest no matter the season.

Bee on a coneflower

CaptionPhoto by Steven Severinghaus

3) We have identified 34 species of native bees on the High Line, which proves that any urban garden can be an important contributor to the survival of wildlife and serve as a connector between the more wild places.
Gardeners work along the High Line

A gardener on the High Line

CaptionPhoto by Liz Ligon

4) The dedication of the horticulture staff is truly impressive—working outdoors in all sorts of weather (including shoveling snow in the winter) and gardening with just 18” of soil 30 feet in the air, while millions of visitors pass by, is elevating horticulture to a whole new level.

Flowers on the High Line

CaptionPhoto by Joan Garvin

5) It’s a labor of love: we’ve added more than 5,000 new plants to the High Line since April!

Explore the garden zones


High Line Horticulture is supported by Greenacre Foundation.

High Line Accessibility is supported, in part, with public funds from the New York City Council, under the leadership of Speaker Adrienne Adams, with special thanks to New York City Council Member Erik Bottcher.

Photography: Lawrence Sumulong | Lou Aguilar | Timothy SchenckSteven Severinghaus | Liz Ligon | Joan Garvin

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The High Line is almost entirely supported by people like you. As a nonprofit organization, we need your support to keep this public space free—and extraordinary—for everyone.