Friends of the High Line recently launched a truly inspired fund-raising campaign: Sponsor a Plant. There are more than 100,000 plants in the park, representing 170 species of flowers, 46 kinds of trees, and hundreds of species of grasses, shrubs, vines and bulbs. The now mile-long park requires a huge amount of love and care — pruning, watering, feeding, weeding — and the Friends pay the costs of upkeep.
So today, in the middle of our first Nor’Easter of the Fall season, I adopted a Smokebush. I chose this tree because it’s a shapeshifter and a real drama queen. Throughout the season it changes its shape, color and texture. Today it’s blowin’ in the wind (and battered by the flying slush) but it’s making a great show of its beautiful reddish-purple leaves. Earlier in the season — see the photo below, taken in May — the tree is leggier and it has little fronds that stick out in all directions. It looks like a lady of a certain age sitting under a hair dryer at the beauty salon; all it lacks is last month’s issue of Vogue.
I took a gardening tour of the High Line in the spring and the gardener who escorted my little group described this tree as “Dr. Seussy.” Boy, did she get that right. It’s hard to pass through the Gansevoort Woodland in the middle of May and not break out into hysterical laughter. This is a funny tree, an expressive tree, and a beautiful one too.
You too can sponsor a plant on the High Line. The smokebush Continus ‘Grace’ is a pricey plant (most likely because the High Line has to pay all those licensing fees to the Ted Geisel aka Dr. Seuss estate), but there’s a range of plants available and it includes a wonderful variety: Smooth sumac (Rhus glabra), Winterberry, ‘Red Sprite’ (Ilex verticillata), the fabulous grass Sideoats grama (Bouteloua curtipendula), thread-leaf bluestar (Amsonia hubrichtii) and, last but not least, the Aster oblongifolius, ‘Raydon’s Favorite.’ Over the past few weeks this last plant has been stunning and has pretty much dominated the landscape. Today the asters, like most of the plants, are encased in ice, and as beautiful as ever.
If you love the High Line here’s another great way to support it: sponsor a plant. You’ll be supporting the landscape and also the amazingly great gardening staff that makes this park run day in and day out, through rain and sleet and hail and gloom of night. They’re out in full force today, shoveling slush so the rest of us can enjoy it.
So make yourself a nice cup of tea and do it now: www.TheHighLine.org.
And if you’re town walk (don’t run) to the park because there’s nothing more beautiful than a garden in a storm.