Stretching 1.5 miles down the West Side of Manhattan, the High Line is a historic freight line transformed into a public park. The park, which spans the neighborhoods of Chelsea and Midtown, was built after Friends of the High Line, a nonprofit dedicated to repurposing the train tracks for public use, advocated to transform the abandoned rail line into a public space. It opened as a aerial greenway in 2014.
Each year, High Line gardeners and volunteers cut back on winter growth to prepare for spring blooms in the annual Spring Cutback.
Unlike other gardens, plants are not trimmed back at the onset of cold weather. This is in keeping with the vision of planting designer Piet Oudolf and the landscape architects of James Corner Field Operations who wanted to keep the self-seeded landscape as natural as possible, according to Friends of the High Line.
The plants that grow on the High Line are meant to mimic the dynamics of a wild landscape. In such landscapes, wildfires would naturally sweep through grasslands and create room for spring bulbs. At the High Line, gardeners hand cut and trim grasses using shears, pruners, and scissors to expose bulbs among the metal rails of the old line.
Spring on the High Line