Monday, June 27, 2011

Spring Fever in the Summer!?

I've got Spring Fever so bad right now! Spring Fever in the sense that I wish I had a garden to tend right now. In the late winter I decided not to plant veggies in the Spring for two reasons. Reason one, our backyard was going to be dug up by the city to repair a very old sewer line. We had no way of knowing the extent of the digging, and judging by all the little flags the various utilities placed in and around the yard, it could have been really bad. Reason two, a little renovation work on the inside was planned and being very honest with ourselves, we knew we would have plenty to tackle. Judging by the amount of work not complete on the inside, one could say that just handling everyday life is more than enough. With family, my day job, and travel for my day job, I'm plain pooped, and the last thing I want to do is pick up a paint brush. But what I do want to pick up is a shovel. The outdoors are calling to me. The yard is just begging for some beautiful additions like Mountain Laurel, Pride of Barbados, Rosemary, the list just keeps getting longer.

Last Friday my husband and I had a rare date night. We walked around some of the old neighborhoods in the downtown area before picking up our son. I was struck by a few of the yards. They used natives and adapted natives to fill nearly the entire front yard, a really smart thing in this year's drought conditions. I would love to do something similar in our front and backyards, and it brought back to mind the High Line in New York City.

The High Line is a park located on Manhattan's West Side that used to be a working rail for freight cars coming into the Meatpacking District. Between 1851 and 1929 the freight cars were street-level in this very heavily industrial area. The line was elevated 30 feet above the roads for safety around 1930. According to the official web site for the High Line, "So many accidents occur between freight trains and street-level traffic that 10th Avenue [became] known as Death Avenue." The High Line as a freight line stopped train service in the 1980's.

The High Line as a park is an inspiration and gem. The plants that are used were inspired by the plants that seeded themselves up there in the 30 years of disuse. The design is amazing. They have fused history with modern architectural details that still recall the past. Corten steel which naturally rusts and ages to give amazing texture and interest is paired with glass, concrete, and gorgeous plants which are suited for the area. Here are some of the pictures I took when I was in New York for business in May. I would love to see it in every season!
I'm a sucker for Corten. Here it's used as a planter next to a concrete bench.

Corten and glass together. This is one of the access points from the street up to the park.

Isn't it gorgeous?! This picture shows more of the Corten planters and how they layered the landscaping. It also shows the view down to the street. I'm pretty sure there were Wisteria vines "escaping" the High Line and weaving their way down some of the columns to street-level.

Absolutely adore the way they incorporated rails into the landscape design. My friend and co-worker who is actually lucky enough to live near this park said it is amazing to watch the plants completely cover the rails in the summer and then completely expose the rails in the winter.

I love this one so much that it's my desktop wallpaper.
Where many years ago you could have seen a train pass through.

Where it would have gone to pick up freight.

And finally for some perspective, a view from street-level. If you didn't know it was there you would probably keep on walking.

I hope you enjoyed seeing just a glimpse of this fantastic place in New York City, and that it inspires you to use natives for your area too.

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