A Garden Party

I went to a garden party to reminisce with my old friends, A chance to share old memories and play our songs again” ~ Ricky Nelson, 1985

View of the Hudson River from the High Line in A Garden For All by Kathy Diemer https://agardenforall.com

View of the Hudson River from the High Line (photo by: Kathy Diemer)

Revisiting the High Line was like reminiscing with an old friend. Indeed, I could reminisce about last year’s visit . . . in December . . . when I thought the place couldn’t be more beautiful. Although the winter scenery at the High Line is unbelievably inspirational, the riot of colors and textures that await you in September is guaranteed to rock your world. And really, that’s an understatement. Shockwaves of gold and yellow and pink and purple tumble forth to greet you, while the world beneath your feet seems to move ever so subtly, like a rumble from the days of yore when this platform was threaded with tracks that carried heavy trains to and fro, and folks bustled about on the busy streets below.

A speckled Toadlily blossom in A Garden For All by Kathy Diemer https://agardenforall.com

A colorfully speckled Toadlily blossom (photo by: Kathy Diemer)

Now, in its place there is only the peace and solitude that can be found from lush plants and happy wildlife flitting about. Think of a feast with your favorite delicacies, a smorgasbord of delights that seem almost incomprehensible. Abundant displays of mouthwatering hors d’oeuvres assembled in the most appealing way. For as far as the eye can see, containers are heaped with luscious appetizers in unimaginable quantities. Some offer intoxicating scents that waft on the autumn breeze, while others exhibit a prismatic range of hues that seem otherworldly. You can’t wait to sample something, but don’t quite know where to start. No, you’re not dreaming, dear. You’re walking on the High Line, where bodacious plantings of every size, shape and color accompany you along your journey. And though it seems as if the plantings are quite established, some portions of the walkway were only completed a few short years ago . . .

Heuchera and Sedges grow among the tracks in A Garden For All by Kathy Diemer https://agardenforall.com

Heuchera and Sedges grow among the tracks (photo by: Kathy Diemer)

Built in the 1930s as part of a massive public-private infrastructure project called the West Side Improvement, the High Line was created to remove dangerous trains from the streets of Manhattan’s largest industrial district. By 1980, trains had stopped using the High Line, and in 1999 Friends of the High Line, a community based nonprofit group, formed to prevent the demolition of this historic structure.  Working in partnership with the City of New York to preserve and maintain the structure as an elevated public park, by 2006 construction began on the first section from Gansevoort Street to West 20th Street, which opened in June of 2009.  The second section, from West 20th to West 30th Streets, opened in June of 2011, and the final section, the northernmost point called Interim Walkway, opened Sunday, September 21, 2014. (I just missed it, but you don’t have to!)

**Click here to see the High Line in Winter

Local birds love the Prairie Grass seeds in A Garden For All by Kathy Diemer https://agardenforall.com

Local birds love the Prairie Grass seeds (photo by: Kathy Diemer)

Some of the High Line’s planting design replicates the self-sowing landscape that grew on the rail tracks during its idle period; incorporating masses of flowing grasses interspersed with hundreds of perennials in a variety of heights and hues. Spread over a 1.45 mile long track standing over 30 feet above the city streets; the walkway leads you from open sections of simulated meadows to areas where dozens of different species of shrubs and trees mingle tightly together, creating the semblance of a mini-forest or tropical oasis smack in the middle of downtown Manhattan. With a 395 acre palette of possibilities, the sky is the limit, and the skyline and the Hudson River play a key role in the overall sanctity of this public park. The reflection off the river illuminates the grasses as if a brush laden with golden glitter stroked each blade, and the crisp autumn sky provides the perfect accompaniment for any shade, changing mundane yellow and pale blue into dazzling gold and scintillating sapphire.

** Love finding new places to explore, try Great Destinations **

An assortment of plants and shrubs line the tracks in A Garden For All by Kathy Diemer https://agardenforall.com

An assortment of plants and shrubs line the tracks (photo by: Kathy Diemer)

The High Line boasts a diverse assortment of over one hundred different shrubs and trees, and for the month of September alone, there are over two hundred various perennials in bloom (what’s in bloom can be viewed monthly on the High Line’s website: www.thehighline.org). In other words, prepare to be mesmerized, amazed, (possibly dazed and confused), with the banquet of plants laid out before you. Hop on board the illusory locomotive and fasten your seat belt as we travel across the High Line, sampling all the taste sensations in bloom. Be prepared for the ultimate feast for the eyes . . .

Golden asters flowers lure dozens of bees in A Garden For All by Kathy Diemer https://agardenforall.com

Golden aster’s flowers lure dozens of bees (photo by: Kathy Diemer)

Imagine swaths of Korean feather grass, Calamagrostis brachytricha, aglow in the sun’s afternoon rays, interspersed with generous clumps of blazing Sedum ‘Red Cauli’. Yellow blossoms range from the petite Coreopsis ‘Full Moon’ to the towering Helianthus salicifolius, followed with the ruby tassels of Sanguisorba officinalis ‘Red Thunder’ swaying gently in the breeze. Local birds nibble the seeds of prairie dropseed, Sporobolus heterolepis, while dozens of honeybees sip nectar from the radiant flowers of nearby golden aster, Euthamia graminifolia. Carpets of Heuchera villosa cover the rusty rail road tracks, lipstick red honeysuckle vine, Lonicera sepervirens ‘Major Wheeler’, climbs a fence and the curious, purple speckled blossoms of toadlily, Tricyrtis ‘Sinonome’ pop up in the most unexpected places.  Visited by millions annually, the High Line’s plants and architecture are a source of joy and inspiration no matter what time of year you visit ~


  1. Hey, I’m game to go!

  2. I guess I’ll be making a summer/fall trip! I too thought winter was phenomenal so here I go again!

    • Yes Dina, do go again, and be sure to visit the last section that just opened! I’ll be back to see that myself, as I missed it by a few days.

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