Garden Diary - October 2017

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A Visit to the Gardens of the High Line
Tuesday, 24 October 2017

The only time I can see my neighbors is in winter, when the leaves are off the trees. Otherwise it's trees, shrubbery, perennials . . . and weeds. It's different in the city - concrete and buildings, honking car horns and sirens. Trees planted in pits gouged out of the pavement. Some tree pits are embellished with seasonal plants: summer annuals, autumn chrysanthemums. Others have coffee cups and cigarette butts. The high line was a rail line through Manhattan. Abandoned, nature began to take on the daunting task of growing plants. Over time, it has become a strolling walkway through the cliffs of city buildings with beds of native prairie plants, some exotic perennials, trees and shrubs.

I've known about the gardens of the High Line for some time, years, in fact. And after I received a review copy of Gardens of the High Line to review I decided a visit was definitely in order. Accordingly, I took the Transbridge bus from Clinton NJ to Port Authority bus terminal where Susan, my sister-in-law, met me. Then subway to the Hudson Yards. Once outdoors we walked around the corner, down a block or two, and voilà, we were at the High Line at the Rail Yards, the newest section of the High Line.

Hudson Yards, High Line, one feeds the other -
construction on Manhattan's west side.

The High Line curves, offering a glimpse of the Hudson River.
Grasses have turned russet, goldenrod in flower.

Pigeons were squabbling in the gutter as
we walked to the High Line. You could call
them rock doves, living in the city, not cliffs.

Buildings as cliffs, surrounding the elevated gardens and people,
some walking, some sitting, peaceful above the honking horns.

Numerous glossy buildings with distorted reflections.

A day with clear skies and bright sunshine,
illuminating the leaves of cucumber magnolia.

I'm accustomed to asters and goldenrod as roadside ditch plants.
Here, they're elevated in space, embellished, special, rarities.

Urban dwellers are probably most familiar with cut flowers in a bouquet, soon to be discarded in the trash. Or a pot of geraniums, thrown away at summer's end. How wonderful to have the opportunity to see a plant's beauty when, like this Asclepias, gone to seed, ready to dance, to sail off in the wind as it completes its growing cycle.

A goldenrod's fluffy, furry seedhead, capturing the light.

This sparrow also appreciates the seeds that follow flowers.

Vivid red berries on a holly. They'll be even more visible when their leaves have fallen. Birds such as robins will eat the berries after frost has made them more palatable.

Here's a rose paying rent for its garden space twice over. Once in Spring, when the dainty pink flowers of Rosa glauca are elegant against the purple-flushed leaves. And now, when the orange-red hips that follow the flowers add warm autumn color.

Mid-October. Autumn. Falling leaves. And the last roses . . .

No, we didn't time warp and skip over winter. There are crocus
that flower at the opposite end of the year than you might expect.

How green and luxuriant, the 23rd Street Lawn and Seating Steps.

Close to the opposite end of the High Line. Sundecks that invite
the passing individual to relax, lounge in the sunshine, dream . . .

There's a shallow film of water, glinting, dancing
over the stones, making music as it spills
into a drain and (I hope) cycles back again.

It clearly appeals to people. In summer, I
imagine, they become children again and -
shoes removed, play barefoot in the water.

High Line. Once a rail line. Tracks and ties
remain, trees grow. Gardens of the High Line.

Gansevoort Woodland. Trees. Leaves rustle, murmur in a breeze.

Across Gansevoort Street there is a huge trompe l'oiel photo image
of what the rail line once was like. People walk where trains rumbled
along the tracks. But God bless the grass. It grows through the cracks.
And with imagination and effort there's now a garden on the High Line.

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