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I recently traveled to New York City for the sole purpose of seeing the now-world-famous High Line Park - a mile-long elevated park on what was once a freight rail line running along the West Side from the Meatpacking District north.  I knew it was adored by locals and visitors alike and that the plants were chosen and designed by the hot designer Piet Oudolf so I assumed I’d love it, too.  Still, it blew me away.  Here are some of my favorite views, which offer design and plant ideas that any of us can aspire to copy.

For fun, click here to see an amazing “before” photo on Oudolf’s website.

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There were so many billowing Amsonia hubrichtii, I might have to come back and see them in their fall glory – orange.

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Oudolf chose primarily plants native to the Eastern U.S., though not exclusively, and not just the species.  Above, what looks like ‘Little Joe’ Joe Pye Weed or a similar shorter-than-species cultivar.

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Sooo much blooming in early August!  Besides Sedums, Joe Pye Weed and Butterfly Weed, what else?

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Hydrangeas offer a nice contrast to the sweeps of perennials.

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I find this under-tree treatment very classy – the black pebbles, the bronze Heuchera and some feathery ornamental grass –  maybe Stipa?

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In full sun, this huge mass of Heucheras is doing fine.

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This red-bloming Echinacea cultivar looks terrific.

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Rudbeckia, of course, paired with a billboard telling us we need to fly off to a Mexican beach to find a touch of heaven.  I think not!

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See, there’s even a water element here, one that’s increasingly seen in modern garden design – the water scrim.  It’s a very thin layer of moving water.IMG_5783

The designers made sure to retain elements from the original historic freight line.

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And it’s not all perennials – there’s a good-sized grove that refreshes in the August heat.

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What surprised me the most about the High Line is this stretch of lawn – and how useful it is.  Nowhere else in the park could kids be set free to run around as they are here.  Plus, the lawn is calming, a nice contrast to all the plant exuberance in the rest of the park.

If you go, stroll the park like I did or click here to check for special events.  They include community dance parties, stargazing, and an early morning “Wild High Line Tour.”  All fabulous.

Posted by Susan Harris.

Filed under: Public Gardens