NYC High Line: The Plants

                                           

Here's how to grow Japanese tree clethra:

Latin Name

Clethra barbinervis

Common Name

Japanese Tree Clethra

Family

Clethraceae, the White Alder family

What kind of plant is it?

Small deciduous ornamental tree

Hardiness

Zones 5 - 8

Habit

Multi-trunked and broadly upright

Rate of Growth

Fast when happy

Size in ten years

Almost full-grown: 16 - 18 feet tall, 10 feet wide

Texture

Graceful and airy

Grown for

Multi-season appeal: Fragrant nodding sprays of small white flowers in Summer, Fall foliage color, and (in mature specimens) multi-colored bark as good as any stewartia.


Flowering season

Mid-Summer: July or even into early August.

Culture

Rich well-drained soil.  Full sun to part shade.

How to handle it

Low-care.  Consider pruning off lower branches as the plant matures: The most colorful bark is on the thicker (and therefore older, and therefore lower) portions of the trunks.

Downsides

Availability

Variants

None, although the related species C. acuminata, is equally attractive.

Availability

At better retail garden centers, and on-line.

Propagation

Seeds, as well as softwood cuttings.

Native of

Japan.

Here's how to grow hardy quinine:


Latin Name

Parthenium integrifolium

Common Name

Hardy quinine

Family

Asteraceae, the daisy family

What kind of plant is it?

Hardy Summer-flowering perennial

Hardiness

Zones 4 - 8

Habit

Coarse basal green leaves with vertical stalks of brilliant (but small) white flowers in flat sprays.  Very showy—even from a distance—and long-lasting.

Rate of Growth

Fast when happy

Size in ten years

Full grown: a clump 2 to 3 feet wide, with flowering stalks 3 to 5 feet high.

Texture

The flower stalks are graceful and airy; the basal leaves are large and densely-overlapping.  Potential as a groundcover if planted en masse.

Grown for

Unusual and long-lasting flowers.  Also as a reliable and even "bullet-proof" asset in the Summer flower scene.


Flowering season

High Summer: July and August.

Culture

Full sun, and almost any soil, from dry and sandy to rich and "ideal" to heavy clay.

How to handle it

Low care and self-reliant.  Cut last year's flowering stems down before growth resumes in early Spring.  Deer-proof and pest-free.

Downsides

None

Variants

None

Availability

At better retail garden centers, and on-line.

Propagation

Seeds and division in Spring.

Native of

Midwest and the prairies.

Here's how to grow rattlesnake master:

Latin Name

Eryngium yuccifolium

Common Name

Rattlesnake master

Family

Apiaceae, the bee family

What kind of plant is it?

Hardy Summer-flowering perennial

Hardiness

Zones 4 - 9

Habit

Toothed pineapple-like green leaves form a yucca-like clump.  Thick vertical branching spikes of teasel-like pale-green flowers.

Rate of Growth

Fast when happy

Size in ten years

Full grown: a clump three feet wide, with flowering stalks 3 to 5 feet high.

Texture

The foliage is, eventually, thick, upright but also groundcovering.  The flower spikes above it are structural but also airy.  A remarkable presentation.

Grown for

Unusual foliage as well as flowers.  Also as a reliable asset in the Summer flower scene.  Flower stalks are attractive in the Winter, or in dried arrangements.


Flowering season

High Summer: July and August.

Culture

Full sun, and almost any soil, from dry and sandy to rich and "ideal" to heavy clay.

How to handle it

Low care and self-reliant.  Flowering stems are attractive into Winter; unless self-seeding is a problem, don't cut them down until early Spring.  Deer-proof and pest-free.

Downsides

None

Variants

None

Availability

At better retail garden centers, and on-line

Native of

Midwest United States


Here's how to get started on planning your trip to The High Line:


What’s The Idea?

The High Line is an abandoned elevated freight railroad in the far West of Manhattan that has been renovated and transformed into a multi-block promenade amid exciting meadow-like gardens.

Where Is It?

It currently runs from Washington Street & Gansevoort  (just below 13th Street, between 9th & 10th Avenues) North as far as 20th Street & 10th Avenue.  When the remaining two Northern stretches are completed, it will run all the way to 34th Street.

How do I get there?

Check out the High Line’s website, which is as carefully thought through, generously executed, and stylishly inviting as the High Line itself.  Here’s the link to the Information page, which includes all transportation modalities save helicopter pads and sky-diving.

It's two stories above street level.  How the hell to do I get up there?

There are currently four different entrances, as well as elevators at the 14th and 16th Street entrances.  An entrance is always only a block or two away.


And when I’m up there, on the High Line, then what?

You’ll find yourself suddenly amid one of the most exciting public spaces in the country.  Stroll down the broad central walkway; your feet will start moving all by themselves, so try to keep up.  Remarkably dense and eccentric plantings are, just by their mere existence this far off the ground, a pleasant shock.  Their year-round detail and flare ensure that you’ll be checking them out whenever your visit.  The views of Manhattan, as well as out to the Hudson, are showstopping.

Wow: exciting indeed.  I think I need a breather.

There is bounteous seating, from small benches to enormous lounges, to an amphitheater of stadium-sized benches suspended directly over Tenth Avenue that lets you watch the traffic shoot out from underneath you.  Who knew?

Who else is likely to be there?  Isn’t this an isolated neighborhood?


It was isolated, true, but now it’s the heart of a high-horsepower neighborhood.  Galleries, shops, restaurants, offices, and hotels are popping up all over in “celebritecture” buildings, both residential and commercial, as well as renovated period buildings from the area’s industrial past. (The High Line has helped motivate a billion or two in real estate development, which makes it a seriously cost-effective investment.)  With so much style now in the neighborhood, the folks on the High Line are sleek and savvy, too.  You’ll see people you’ve seen in People, models or people you’re sure should become models, pencil-thin staff on their lunch hour from the galleries, and the usual legions of design-conscious New Yorkers who think this is all normal, and how life should have been all along.

I’m getting hungry:


There’s a pushcart or two right on the High Line, as well as cafe chairs.  But try to build up a real appetite so you can lavish yourself on a visit to The Chelsea Market, a massive aggregation of food shops and restaurants in one of the former industrial buildings that the High Line serviced in its original industrial phase.  The Food Network’s offices are in the same building, so the Chelsea Market always has a baseline of knowledgeable and hungry folks.

Oops:  Gotta go:


There’s a rest room just for the High Line, in the new building, The Caledonia, built all along the East Side of the Line from 16th to 17th.  The entrance is closer to 16th Street.  It’s handicap accessible (like the entire High Line).

I’m hungry again!


Consider Del Posto, with fleets of servers and big-taste (and price) Italian food in the densely-upholstered two-story ambiance of (I think) a Chicago hotel that was formerly a Federal Reserve branch, that (what the hell) decided to put in a “Hello Dolly” center stairway so everyone can make a grand ascent to the mezzanine, and then (even better for the viewing and the being viewed) back down to the main floor.  Empty your wallet and get the truffled fettuccine, too.

Or just bring your lunch up to the High Line and brown-bag it.

Wow, has this been exciting!  I’m pooped, but blissfully so.


Make reservations at The Standard Hotel, which straddles the High Line. 

As its website says, “in the heart of the Meatpacking District,” and all possible puns and inferences of “straddle” and “meatpacking” are knowingly exploited.  When the hotel was just opened but not quite finished, they ran an ad showing a glistening mostly-nude female wearing just a tool belt, with the caption “We’ll put up with your banging if you’ll put up with ours.”  In no time the hotel became infamous for couples who liked to give the High Line visitors below a show.  Read about it here.

I confess that the rooms are, well, exciting indeed, and the views, in all senses, are, too.  Either The Standard hires extras from www.Eurotrash.com to populate its public spaces, or such people really do exist.  Wear black so you’ll fit in, practice your French, Japanese, and Brazilian-Portuguese, and join the spectacle.

What’s the best time of year to visit?


As long as you’re dressed warmly—see Words to the Wise below—the High Line is a destination in Fall and Winter just as much as Spring and Summer.  Depending on your mood, Winter visits can be even more satisfying because you’ll have the place more to yourself.  In the warm months, you’ll definitely be strolling with plenty of other in-the-know folks.

I’m two stories above-ground in a (formerly) desolate neighbor-hood.  Is it actually safe now?


The High Line has a large and reassuringly “present” contingent of staff—think Park Rangers out in Yellowstone—who are benignly strolling around.  And there’re plenty of gardeners tending all the plantings, too.  (They may look like meadows, but low-maintenance they ain’t.)  So things are under control.  Plus, visitors really do feel like they have ascended to a higher plane, literally, aesthetically, and morally.  There is a conspicuous sense of We Really ARE a Good-Karma Species After All, at least for an hour or two.  (In these wild times, who doesn’t doubt this daily?)  Join in the smiles and kind camaraderie.  You’ll be so welcome.

Words to the Wise:


The High Line is all about style.  And the space is so exciting and stimulating that you’ll want to do justice to it yourself.  So pay respect to great design when planning what to wear for your excursion.  You’re part of the show, too!  And remember: You’re two stories up, and only a block or two from the Hudson.  That welcome cooling breeze in Summer becomes the holy-crap-that-wind-is-strong blow in Winter.  It’s much (much) chillier than the street below, so be sure to wear that extra-warm scarf, gloves, and hat.

More!  More!  More!


Here’s a link from NY Mag, for a day-long Summer dose of High Line excitement.

I actually want to print some info out first:

The High Line is there for you paper-based folks, too.  Here’s a PDF.

How was your High Line visit?

Email me: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

 
 
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