The High Line: Heirloom Bulbs Flourish in New York’s Coolest Park
Built on an abandoned railway high over the streets of Manhattan, the High Line is one of the country’s coolest new parks and an inspiring example of the adaptive re-use of a historic resource.
a park. Scenes like this inspired neighborhood activists to see
it as more than just a blighted relic. By Joel Sternfeld.
The railway was originally used to deliver meat, produce, and raw materials to warehouses and factories along the west side of lower Manhattan. Abandoned in the 1980s, it was slated for demolition until neighborhood activists, inspired by the way nature was reclaiming the rail-bed, convinced the city to recycle it into an aerial greenway. Since opening in 2009, the park has become wildly popular and sparked billions of dollars worth of re-development in the area.
As you might imagine, an elevated rail-bed in Manhattan isn’t the easiest place for plants to grow, but the High Line is richly planted with tough perennials, grasses, woody plants, and bulbs, many of which are natives or heirlooms. All are mulched with coarse, crushed bluestone that recalls the site’s original surfacing, and some are doing better in these challenging conditions than others. Grape hyacinths had naturalized themselves there long before work on the park began (see photo), and the day I visited I was happy to see that tiny, dark blue Turkish glory-of-the-snow were spreading eagerly.
Here’s a list of all of the High Line’s bulbs — including the eleven tough fall-planted heirlooms we offer:
Muscari armeniacum ‘Valerie Finnis’ — Valerie Finnis grape hyacinth