Yesterday, I saw an amazing site/sight. I was in New York for the weekend and went to see the High Line, an abandoned elevated railway that has been repurposed as a public park.

The city had planned to tear it down but a group of individuals with incredible foresight, determination, and fund-raising ability negated that intent and has turned an eyesore into a heavily used park. Although yesterday was cloudy and in the 40’s, the number of pedestrians, many of them young families with strollers and/or toddlers, was phenomenal.

In the middle of winter, there was a feast for the eyes: several different species of ornamental grasses, perennials with interesting deadheads, both evergreen and deciduous shrubs with colorful berries, budded racemes or colorful bark, woody shrubs or young trees with great architectural interest plus some conifers and broadleaf evergreen trees like Magnolia virginiana. There was even one shrub in bloom, Viburnum bodnantense ‘Dawn’.   I was not surprised to learn that Piet Oudolf, a Dutch landscape designer and incredible plantsman, was part of the design team.

Winter holly (Ilex verticillata) berries

“The High Line’s planting design is inspired by the self-seeded landscape that grew on the out-of-use elevated rail tracks during the 25 years after trains stopped running. The species of perennials, grasses, shrubs and trees were chosen for their hardiness, sustainability, and textural and color variation, with a focus on native species. Many of the species that originally grew on the High Line’s rail bed are incorporated into the park’s landscape.” (quoted from the High Line website,






Fence with track design

Some of the old rails have been integrated into the beds or the walkways and some of the fences have a track theme. There is seating intermittently through the path that is approximately thirty blocks long.

I can hardly wait to return to see this park in spring, summer, and fall. Happily, this non-profit organization is in the process of raising more money so that the High Line can be extended. Visit their website for lots more information.