View of the Hudson River from the High Line

In January, I wrote about visiting the High Line (in New York) in the middle of winter. At that time, I said that I hoped to visit it in every season.

This past weekend, I was in New York for music, theatre, food, and, of course, gardens. The structure of the High Line is the same (the hardscape, the predominance of ornamental grasses, and the trees and large shrubs) but the “notes” that sing out now are the blooming plants.

Geum triflorum in bloom and deadheads

One of Piet Oudolf’s greatest strengths as a landscape designer is his intimate knowledge of the characteristics of plants in each season. For instance, one of the perennials he has used on the High Line is Geum triflorum (Prairie Smoke). This little known perennial has wispy pink flowers in late spring and feathery deadheads in early summer and it thrives in dry soil.

Echinacea pallida 'Hula Dancer'-closeup

Many of the perennials he has chosen are wilder than those many of use in our gardens. Oudolf is a firm believer in the concept of sense of place. The High Line, before it was rescued, had deteriorated into a wild and weedy plants. However, keep in mind that a weed is merely a plant in the wrong place. Another perennial Oudolf has chosen is Echinacea. There are some recent selections but I was quite pleased to see Echinacea pallida ‘Hula Dancer’, a very pale purple that fades to white. The petals are slightly droopy and finer than those of Echinacea purpurea.

Allium christophii in grasses

Although the backbone of the borders is provided by ornamental grasses, masses of perennials and bulbs are integrated into them. I loved seeing the large deadheads of Allium christophii peeking out of the surrounding grasses. If you are not acquainted with this May blooming bulb, I am also showing it to you in bloom from my own garden.

Renter's pot garden

Many apartment buildings were built close to the High Line. The newer ones are quite modern but I quite enjoyed one of the older and smaller ones. One of the renters was obviously inspired by the plantings of the High Line to create a colorful pot garden of his own.

I have many more images and concepts to share with you but that’s enough for today.