Favorite Gardens – The High Line, NYC

As the NCAA Championship is slated for Monday night (I will not be watching because a) we got rid of cable television and b) there are no teams from North Carolina in the final game), it is appropriate that we wrap up the series on my favorite gardens by designating a champion. Just for a quick recap, here are the first 5:

1) Jardin Plume here

2) Abby Aldrich Rockefeller Garden here

3) Chanticleer here

4) Montrose here

5) Lotusland here

The sixth, and final garden in this series is definitely a champion in many ways. First, it pushes the definition of a garden into an entirely new direction. Secondly, this garden brought together some of the world’s best designers to a derelict site in order to create a most magical space. When a garden can become so popular that it encourages improvements all around it, then you have to take note. In case you haven’t figured it out, I am talking about The High Line.

NYC High LIne Garden by Rodney Eason at www.pithandvigor.com

The first time I saw The High Line was several years ago after they had just completed the first phase. It is the kind of garden, for me, that after hearing about it, I sought it out. The only other garden that I recall having as much build up in anticipation of seeing was the Alhambra in Spain. I have to tell you, The High Line did not disappoint. The plant palette is remarkable. Piet Oudolf designed the plantings and the way natives are married with exotics is exquisite. The planting design is a work of art. The paving and benches by James Corner Field Operations are sublime. I love the detailing and how the lines of the paving pick up on the imagery of train tracks.
NYC High LIne Garden by Rodney Easo n at www.pithandvigor.com


NYC High LIne Garden by Rodney Eason at www.pithandvigor.com

There are other elevated gardens on abandoned railways (Promenade Plantee in Paris was the first) but this is the best. As you make your way along The High Line, the microclimates created by the surrounding buildings or openings in the skyline, create a sequence of different gardens along the way. The High Line has become THE place in Manhattan to see and and be seen. I love that a garden can unify and revitalize a part of one of the largest cities in the world.

NYC High LIne Garden by Rodney Eason at www.pithandvigor.com

NYC High LIne Garden by Rodney Eason at www.pithandvigor.com

There are special places along the way: the area of turf, the amphitheater where you can watch a New York City street, and of course the surrounding buildings which have become impromptu stages for aspiring artists and musicians.

Thank you for reading this series of my favorite gardens. There are others, of course, but I wanted to limit it to six. What do you think about the list? Are there some obvious gardens that I left out that are your favorites?


images by Rodney Eason

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rodney eason

Rodney Eason - Director of Horticulture and Plant Curator at Coastal Maine Botanical Gardens, father of 4, husband to a Renaissance woman. I spent the first part of my life in North Carolina, the middle in Pennsylvania, and now I am determined to become a Mainer  while keeping my southern drawl. I consider the rhetorical question, "you're not from around here, are you?" a compliment. I love great gardens, beautiful plants, and inspiring architecture. Because of this, I am on a lifelong quest to find a garden that artistically combines beautiful plants while being centered around an evocative building. For me, this would be Beatrix Farrand's Dumbarton Oaks, with the plants of Lotusland and Chanticleer, around Fay Jones' Thorncrown Chapel. My wife and I are now making our new home and garden in a 130 year old New England house with a farmer's porch near the Damariscotta River in coastal Maine. When our kids get into college, we want to hike the Appalachian Trail as a family over a summer break. My likes (in random order): the smell of fresh basil and rosemary, bold foliage, India Pale Ale, good running shoes, Top Gear, the smell of New England in the fall (it reminds me a bit of English Leather, which my grandfather wore), and the sound of our family laughing together around the dinner table. I dream of one day owning an old Toyota 4X4 pick-up and seeing the Avett Brothers in concert.
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  1. kim on April 9, 2013 at 9:55 am

    I’m so glad you shared these photos! I’ve been dying to get to the High Line and on trips to NYC just never seem to have enough time. Next time I’m making the time… and definitely going in spring or summer so I can enjoy the beauty. Thanks for the reminder, and the gentle push!
    XO ~Kim @ popcosmo.com

    • rodneyeason on April 9, 2013 at 9:16 pm

      Kim, do go. It is a must. And grab one of the homemade ice cream sandwiches from the cafe. They are out of this world!

  2. Kimberly on April 9, 2013 at 6:11 pm

    I adore the High Line. I have only had the pleasure to visit once, two years ago. But, I agree the marriage of exotics and natives is breathtaking and has left an impression upon my design decisions to this day.

    Thank you for sharing your 5 other top gardens. I now have them on my list of places to visit in the future!

    • rodneyeason on April 9, 2013 at 9:17 pm

      That is awesome. Let me know if there are gardens that I should visit. I am always looking for new ones to see!

      • Kimberly on April 11, 2013 at 12:06 am

        My last trip, prior to New York, was Portland. I was in heaven since it literally felt like I was falling into park after park. Every corner I turned offered another piece of green paradise. I distinctly remember Tanner Springs as high on my list. But, I have an affinity for pocket parks! In fact, if I had a pocket park list, Paley Park in NY is right on top.

  3. [email protected] Trekker on April 10, 2013 at 1:09 am

    A lot of fun; I really love the concept of repurposing urban spaces to bring the community together.

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