The High Line. |
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The High Line.

Twelve years ago, while on a mini break at my future mother in laws weekender in the country, I fell in love.

It’s not what you are thinking.

I do love my mother in law but this new love was for the work of Piet Oudolf showcased in her Gardens Illustrated magazine.

In particular his work with perennials and his plant planning for The High Line in New York City.

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The High line is an elevated and abandoned railway line that was originally used as a way to transport fresh food through Manhattan’s West Side. A fantastic solution to transport goods and unload without disturbing traffic on the streets. The growth of interstate trucking in the 1950s led to a drop in rail traffic throughout the nation. The last train operated in 1980.

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The High Line lay dormant, rejected and left to decay. In 1999, The Friends of the High Line was formed by two local residents of the neighbourhood. After photographer Joel Sternfeld photographed it in all its glory for 12 months. Broadened community support of public redevelopment of the High Line for pedestrian use grew (and so did the dollars – 150 million in total!) .

On April 10 2006, official construction began and Piet Oudolf, my hero of landscape design, was entrusted with the task of planting design.

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In May 2006, my wife and I were lucky enough to enjoy 10 days of child free holiday time in New York city, a week shy of the opening of the High Line. Despite our efforts and blatant begging we were not allowed entrance. These are some of my happy snaps from the street of the final days of planting and construction for the first phase.

Built over approximately eight years, and three phases, the High Line is now a widely acclaimed 1.45-mile-long (2.33 km) path of green goodness!

Today it’s a city dwellers playground planted with wild flowers and grasses, offering walkers a panorama of the bustle below that makes the park feel removed from the city and an also an important part of it’s hustle and bustle. It’s interesting to note that the High Line cost more per acre than probably any park in human history. Friends of the High Line raises 98% of the High Line’s annual budget.

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Piet Oudolf with collaboration with the landscape architecture firm Diller Scofidio + Renfro, There is a focus on native trees, plants and grasses that are hardy and sustainable.

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Many of the species that originally grew on the High Line have been incorporated into the park’s landscape. Use of perennials is what Oudolf is so famous for. No matter what time of the year you visit, there is amazing colour and texture.

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For now, I need to be patient and marvel at the power of community and great garden design from the comfort of my pc.

I look forward to seeing it in all its splendour on my next visit! Fingers crossed!

More information :

The High Line website

See one of my gardens inspired by the perennial movement here.

Daniel Tyrrell