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.
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.
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.
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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