Thursday, November 17, 2011

Three for Thursday: Not Just Another Monarch Monday

As I relaxed in my chair Monday morning, and surveyed the garden, I caught a flicker of movement out of the corner of my eye and turned to see a Monarch butterfly sitting motionless on a bamboo stake.  Taking a closer look, I spotted an empty chrysalis hanging from the clematis vine.   I watched as the newly emerged butterfly slowly crept up the stake in search of sunlight, then paused at the top of the short stake, uncertain of where to go.  So I stepped in to lend a helping hand.

I sat with this regal beauty for several minutes in awe and wonder, thanking her for the opportunity to bid her welcome to the world and help her prepare for her first flight.  I cheered softly each time she expanded her wings, pumping body fluid through her soft veins. 

I marveled at her perfection: I later read in my BUTTERFLIES OF HOUSTON AND SOUTHEAST TEXAS that the wings can easily be damaged during the expansion and hardening process.  I carefully placed her atop a post of the nearby trellis and she remained there for over an hour, hardening her wings so they could support her in flight.

When it was time for her first flight,  I was privileged to see her make it.  She dipped and soared through the garden, accompanied by my cheers - loud ones this time.  It was a joyful moment and I am still thankful beyond words that I was able to participate in it.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

A High Time On The High Line

Having only been to New York City in the company of non-gardeners, I  have caught only glimpses here and there of the horticultural wonders to be found in the Big Apple.  To be so close to a vast array of beautiful public gardens and unable to visit them at my leisure has been torture for me.  (Don't even ask how it affects the Head Gardener ... )  When we were there back in January, it wasn't quite so painful, the gardens being covered in snow.  On our recent sojourn there in October, the roadside plantings on the taxi ride from LaGuardia to our hotel were just donning their fall colors, making me even more determined to visit at least one garden this trip.  Fortunately, my friend and travel companion Bonnie understands my obsession, since she has a sister who is similarly obsessed.  Our destination on a pleasant Saturday morning was the High Line, a former elevated railway that has been turned into a public park.  

Have I ever mentioned that the HG and I are seriously directionally impaired? Never ask us to read a map or give directions ... we will invariably send you in the direction the opposite of that needed.  Unfortunately, Bonnie shares that impairment, so we must rely on the kindness of strangers to get where we're going when we're together. With the help of our taxi driver and fellow visitors to the city, we arrived at last at the 14th street elevator, which took us up to the High Line.  Here's what we saw that day.

I love this plant but I'm not certain what it is.   It's certainly Aster-like: would my East Coast readers let me know if that's correct?  Update: based on the High Line plant lists and reader input, I believe this is Aster tartaricus 'Jindai".

I love how the paving was designed with grooves for plants to run or reseed.

I thought my Ex-Asters at home were floriferous until I saw these!

ID, please?  I love the shocking pink blooms/fruits!
Just one view of what's going on below the High Line.

I was much enamored of the random underplantings of Autumn Crocus beneath taller perennials and shrubs. Every time I saw them, they brought a smile to my face.  

Benches and chaise longues are placed so visitors can relax with a book, sip a latte, or talk with friends as they take in the view of the river.  More genius. 

This is something I can grow and I think it actually flowers more for us here in Texas! Lespedeza is on my wish list.

One last plant ID, if y'all would?  This was growing in the beds planted along the water feature, as seen below.  

I thought this was a brilliant way to include the  sight and sound of running water. Water runs along gravel pavers and recirculates  through the grating.  

This pocket planting in a corner along the railing was one of my favorites.  The view across the street also pleased.  Enlarge the picture and you should just make out the word "Posto", as in Del Posto, the abfab restaurant collaboration of Mario Batali and Lidia Bastianich. 
I have to stop here and tell y'all a humorous anecdote about this restaurant sighting.  Our first night in NYC, we had hoped to go to Mario Batali's Babbo but were unable to get reservations.  Del Posto did have room for us and we were treated to an absolutely fabulous dining experience from the moment we walked in until the moment we left.  It was the single most expensive meal we've ever eaten and it was worth every penny!  Because we arrived at night, we had no clue that the restaurant was just across the street from the High Line.  When Bonnie and I discovered that on Saturday, we took pictures and she sent one to her husband Danny, who was back at the hotel watching football in the company of the Executive Producer.  Their response: "Don't go in!"  So we didn't.  We went next door instead and had a late lunch at Colicchio and Sons, where we had the two best cocktails ever!  

This is my favorite planting:  I loved the juxtaposition of fall color against a typical NYC backdrop of buildings and billboards.
These folks are waiting in line to be part of the Social Soup Experiment hosted by Friends of the High Line.  

We only saw a small part of the High Line that day but I came away with one big impression.  The most amazing thing about the High Line to me was not the plantings, but the way the park brought people together and created a community.   There was a palpable sense of camaraderie and delight that makes me smile even now, weeks after my visit.  I look forward to my next visit!