This week our second in a two part series on gardens and green spaces of New York City, getting us primed for The Garden Conservancy’s inaugural Garden Futures Summit being held at the New York Botanical Garden on September the 29th and at gardens across the city on Saturday Sept 30th.
This week we head to The High Line – a elevated linear garden, park, green space and cultural landscape - one of New York City’s green space highlights.
The High Line is both a nonprofit organization and a public park on the West Side of Manhattan. Through their work with communities on and off the High Line, they're "devoted to reimagining the role public spaces have in creating connected, healthy neighborhoods and cities."
Built on a historic, elevated rail line, the High Line was always intended to be more than a park. You can walk through gardens, view art, experience a performance, savor delicious food, or connect with friends and neighbors-all while enjoying a unique perspective of New York City.
Nearly 100% of their annual budget comes through donations from people like you, who help us operate, maintain, and program the park.
The High Line is owned by the City of New York and we operate under a license agreement with NYC Parks.
We’re in conversation with Richard Hayden, Director of Horticulture at The High Line since 2022 to learn so much more. A horticulture and public garden enthusiast, Richard is all about connecting people with the power of plants.
All photos courtesy of Richard Hayden and The Friends of The High Line, unless otherwise noted. All rights reserved.
You can follow Richard Hayden and The High Line online at: www.thehighline.org/; and on Instagram at: @naturegardener/ and @highlinenyc/
HERE IS THIS WEEK'S TRANSCRIPT by Doulos Transcription Service:
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JOIN US again next week, when two days after the official publication date of my newest book, What We Sow, we have a treat for you. Scientist, Science educator and communicator, nature and popular culture lover, Dave Schlom, host of NSPR’s Blue Dot, is our host this week on Cultivating Place, turning the potting table as it were to interview me about this newest project now out in the world. What We Sow on Cultivating Place ……. That’s next week right here - listen in.
Speaking of Plants and Place is on summer vacation - back soon!
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This fall, the Conservancy brings us Isabella Tree, the author of The Book of Wilding, to discuss how spectacularly nature can bounce back if we only give it the chance through wilding. And what comes is not just wildlife in super-abundance, but also solutions to the other environmental crises we face. The speaking tour takes Tree to New York City on September 29 for the Garden Futures Summit and then to Middleburg, VA on October 2 and St. Louis, MO on October 4. For tickets and more information, go to garden conservancy dot org slash education.
Thinking out loud this week:
I am back at home in California now after two amazing weeks being on the road speaking to groups of you! To everyone I met in Maine – Landscape Architect Suzanne Williams cleaning up the beach in Ogunquit, Carly Glovinski working on the planted reimagining of May Sarton’s House at Surf Point in York, Maine, the entire staff at the Coastal Maine Botanical Garden and the sold out audience of people who came out for the 13th annual Ina and Lewis Heafitz Lecture there – thank you! It was an immense pleasure and experience getting to know you and your landscapes. To everyone I met and who shepherded me on my two days in Cincinnati – at the University of Cincinnati, at Turner Farm who put me up, at the Civic Garden Center of Greater Cincinnati, and every one from Cincinnati Public Radio - from Brian Grubb, Horticultural Program Director in UC’s College of Design, Architecture, Art & Planning, Robert Edmiston at Turner Farm, Karen Kahle, executive director of the Civic Garden center, Jenell Walton, Vice President of Content at Cincy Public Radio, and all of their teams, and everyone who came out to the two sold out public talks at these centers for horticultural learning – thank you! It is always energizing and expanding to meet you all in your places with your love of plants….
In front of me I have two densely planted weeks of events around the publication of What We Sow next week – Sept 19th. On the evening itself, I will be in person at Mrs. Dalloway’s Literary and Garden Arts book store in Berkeley! I so hope many of you can join us to celebrate and share the experience - please come out and say hi!
I will be in person at Annie’s Annuals in Lincoln, CA this coming Saturday the 16th, speaking for the Friends of the Chico State Herbarium on the evening of the 21st, and at Copperfield’s Books in Sonoma on the evening of the 22nd. For all of my upcoming events – make sure to check out cultivatingplace.com/events.
Looking forward to meeting you when and if possible.
Here's how I like to sign copies of What We Sow for readers – it seems a blessing worth sowing widely and often: "May all that we sow continue to grow the world more delicious, more beautiful, more biodiverse, and more brave!"
So while I was in Cincinnati, I was in conversation with an audience member DJ Trisler about what he termed branded gardens – and the example he cited interestingly was The High Line. He was wondering about the long terms impacts – socially, economically, and environmentally from such a high profile destination garden to the neighborhoods in which it is and has been situated, since its time as a working railway, to its neglect and disuse, to its transformation and enormous success – now being as people say an icon of American post-modern landscape design.
Also interestingly, I just recently came across social media posts’ noting people’s inevitable sadness at what has been lost in the wake of the gardens’ success.
What has been gained is a beautiful and accessible organically-tended public green space, horticultural care and maintenance leadership and education being offered out as models to cities everywhere, and certainly an enormous economic driver for the city and the areas of the city the garden touches.
What has been partially or wholly lost or impacted? – the quiet and more affordable housing previously adjacent to the garden, the unique and interesting personality of the neighborhoods adjacent to The High Line, even some of the distinct nature of the self-seeded site and hand in hand human artistry of the graffiti that used to enliven the environs has changed…
Change is inevitable and cyclical in any human community, but is the pressure of what we can really only call “gentrification” alongside gardens of these kinds the gardens’ fault? I would argue no, but I would also argue that in city planning around gardens of such prominence, these kinds of consequences should be considered and perhaps planned for. How? Seeing these kinds of human migration patterns and exclusions/pressures around sites like the High Line, I think we need to work much more diligently in advance onn much more robust city planning, land use and housing protections policies that – like the best public gardens themselves - make any city more humane and authentically flourishing and livable.
Garden lessons to learn from.
Thanks for the insightful question DJ Trisler.
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