For about five days in mid-June a small group of us toured gardens on Long Island, NY, with the last day, Sunday, dedicated to visiting the High Line and the Brooklyn Botanic Garden, which seemed a perfect ending to the trip. I’d never visited the BBG before, and the High Line had opened a new extension since my two previous visits. But facing daunting logistics, including having to leave Brooklyn late on Sunday and find my way to a new hotel near JFK for the one night before the 6 a.m. flight on Monday morning, and squeezing in returning the rental car at some point, all these details broke me and I opted not to go. Instead I drove from Long Island to the hotel near JFK, checked in, drove to JFK to return the rental car, took the Air Train and then a hotel shuttle back to the hotel, where around 4 p.m. I called Marty (my husband) to let him know I had triumphantly mastered all these details, including navigating through some horrific New York traffic. Marty said well done, stay where you are, find something to eat, and don’t miss the 6 a.m flight Monday morning.
I then called MB Maher (my son) to deliver the same triumphant account, and he said, Are you crazy? You’re in New York and skipping the High Line?
I protested that it was 4:30 p.m., I was exhausted and hungry, having eaten nothing but raisins and peanuts all day, that the High Line’s website said the park closes at 7 (which I misread. It closes at 11 p.m during summer), and there was no way I could make the push to see the High Line this late in the day. Mitch wasn’t at all impressed with my recitation of timetables and repeated the Are you crazy? bit again, and I had to admit, yes, I would be crazy not to go.
So I found the hotel concierge, and within eight minutes of asking him how this cab thing worked, I was sitting in one and heading into Manhattan. Very slowly, in horrific traffic. In Los Angeles a cab ride experience comes along about as frequently as Haley’s Comet, and I had absolutely no frame of reference for suitable behavior, his or mine. My cab driver had never heard of the High Line, so I handed him my iPhone with a map. On the way, moving incrementally in mostly stalled traffic, I had grave doubts that the cab driver and I had successfully negotiated my destination and was certain only of the utter folly of the entire misadventure. But the traffic did ultimately thin out and before sunset we were in Chelsea, driving under those unmistakable railway trestles. I was chagrined to have doubted the driver, even though only in silence, tipped him heavily ($70 total), and arrived at the High Line by 6 p.m. And, yes, I would have been crazy not to go.
Doubly crazy because the eremurus were still in bloom
As were masses of Knautia macedonia
Pink astilbe shockingly paired with orange milkweed
With the sedums just coming into bloom
Baptisia alba and liatris just coloring up
So exciting to see Dalea purpurea in bloom. I just tucked a small dalea into my own garden.
Echinacea species, maybe E. pallida
I have read that some locals consider the High Line too successful, and accuse the park’s gravity pull of distorting the surrounding neighborhood.
The resulting construction boom I’ve been reading about since the park opened is everywhere in progress, and the park does become clotted with people at its narrowest walkways. But I haven’t been among this many excited people since the last hockey game I attended. There is an unmistakable sense among the strollers that they’ve arrived at a very special place and are participating in and affirming something truly wonderful. Camera phones clicked and visitors marveled at common plants like echinacea and other robust prairie plants and grasses that held their own against Manhattan’s skyline, something the typical park fare of bedding plants could never do. The dynamism of the seasonal plantings continually offers up new associations and perspectives and endless plant/city “combinations,” to use garden writing vernacular.
Eremurus, dalea, and liatris
Are the gigantic leaves inula?
I’m not sure what allium has been planted, but it’s lovely even with the color drained away
It was a hot, sticky New York evening, but the subway was icy cool on the way back to the hotel, and I was tucked in my room with a cold can of Fosters for dinner by 10 p.m. I did make the early flight (just barely) and settled in a middle seat between two largish men. Catching up on movies seemed a sensible option, and a choice offered was Steven Soderbergh’s lastest film Side Effects — small scenes of which were filmed at, yes, the High Line. This park has definitely arrived.