The gardener's eye

The Gardener's Eye

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Taking the High Road to Class

I have just returned from a weekend of continuing education classes in optometry at the Javits Center in Manhattan. This year, I brought along my entire staff. We stayed at the The Jane Hotel in the West Village which was perfectly located near the southern entrance to the High Line at Gansevoort Street.

Each morning, we walked the full length of the High Line to 30th Street, just a couple blocks from the Javits Center. Here are some photos of our 1.45 mile walk to school:

Grasslands leading to the 14th Street Passage

Diller-Von Furstenberg Sundeck

The beginning of the new section at about 20th Street

The Chelsea Thicket

23rd Street Lawn

Falcone Flyover

Wildflower Field

This was my first visit since the 20th St-30th St section was opened last June. The staff has been working on what they call the "Spring Cutback." For about six weeks, the gardeners and volunteers cutback the perennials, grasses and shrubs to make room for the emerging growth of spring. I would say they were about 3/4 of the way finished, just in time for the early bulbs. If you are interested in what's growing at the High Line, they have an excellent Plant list on line.


  1. Fantastic photos Michael. I would have loved to join you on the walk. I'm in NYC, so please look me up next time you're in town!


  2. Thanks, Michael. NYC is one my favorite places to see public gardens. We also visited Wave Hill, a perennial favorite. I am a big fan of Lynden Miller and her public gardens throughout the city, including NYBG where you recently took a course. That would be great fun to visit with a fellow blogger next time I am in the big apple.

  3. Thanks much for this, Michael B. Gordon.

    It's fascinating to be able to see such matter-of-fact images of the High Line during this most awkward of moment in the season. This is modern naturalistic gardening at its high end best...but in its worst moment. How interesting. And I can't recall ever seeing images of an Oudolf planting immediately after cutting back OR at the dead end of winter. It's pleasantly revealing...and it makes it all seem a little more down-to-earth.

    Are you going to post images of the Wave Hill and the Miller gardens? I really hope so...

  4. I'm glad you liked it, Peter. I found it very educational to see the way in which Oudolf placed the arrangements and combinations of plants in the garden. It truly is naturalistic the way one plant drifts into and intermingles with the next. It will take an expert gardener to maintain them in the future. I was very surprised at how closely the trees and shrubs were planted in The Chelsea Thicket. I will be curious to see how they grow together in time.

    It makes one realize that installing a garden is a much different thing than keeping one beautiful over time. My next post is about Wave Hill, a mature garden that has stood the test of time. I spoke with Brian McGowan and he said he spent much of the last year pruning and editing the old shrub beds to put them into better proportion and accentuate the elegant lines of their structure.

  5. I should come work for you if these are the kind of places you take your staff.

  6. Thanks, Les. They have all heard about these places so many times, it was a joy to take them there.

  7. Seeing the High Line naked makes me feel better about my empty garden. Thanks for taking this hike every morning. And for the post.

  8. James,
    That is the one thing about gardens with American prairie plants. They tend to look stark and empty this time of year. I have read that Oudolf is getting away from the kind of structure that he learned from people like Mien Ruys. I believe the lack os structure will leave a void this time of year, I will be interested to see what he does to replace his yew waves in his private garden and what early springtime will look like without them.

  9. Dear Michael
    Thanks for your lovely photos from The high Line. I love your photos and this place, all thoug I´ve never been there yet myself. I think, that the title: Prairieborders are really boring and too much overused in Europe. All though we have no prairies i Scandinavian og for the matter: in Oudolfs and Mien Ruys´ Holland. But wee have so many other natural places that show us a natural way, plants grow: The bog, marsh, meadow, heath and sand dune, f.eks. Piet and Anja Oudolf went eastern Europe to find new plants when they started the Dutch Wave... and later on with Henk Gerritsen. In America you have James and Ohme van Sweden, who both are famous for their woork with grasses and "the natural garden".
    And as I see it: Piet Oudolf are now going to tare down the structures in his gardens, and in this way trying to make something like James van Sweden. Am I right?

    A good day to you Michael

    kindly regards

  10. Dear Kjeld,
    I'm glad you liked the post. I am big fan of the High Line. I also heard that the Oudolf garden structure was going to be removed. I am not sure that he is emulating Oehme and van Sweden. The way in which the plants were interplanted was very subtle and seems much more complex than the drifts of a single species that Oehme and van Sweden were famous for. I will be anxious to see his garden in Hummelo without its iconic hedges.
    Thanks for commenting!



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