A week in New York

It would be fair to say that Midtown, New York on a cold, wet day with a jet lag-induced headache wasn’t my favourite place in the world. Especially after an almost two hour journey in from the (supposedly) thirty-minutes-away airport. It was my first visit to the city and I noticed the litter collecting in rain-filled potholes, the peeling, grimy paintwork and the fact that my cab driver was swerving all over the shop with an exceedingly heavy right foot.

Grand Central Station, Midtown, New York

Grand Central Station, Midtown, New York

I was here to meet up with Paul, who had business meetings in the city, but I wondered quite why this girl from rural Buckinghamshire had ever thought it a good idea to join him.

City Hall, New York

The beauty of autumnal trees outside City Hall, New York

But on my penultimate day here, I’m feeling incredibly sad to think of leaving tomorrow. I’ve got my head around all the chaos, I’ve caught up on much needed sleep, and the gorgeous, warm, autumnal sun has come out to play most days.

Pounding the streets of New York

New York architecture is just so…well, New York!

But not only that, I have amazed myself by quite falling in love with the character of New York, which is so unique, so progressive and just so happening. It’s so alive, with such an incredibly strong identity; it quite sucks you in. Add to that (you’ll be amazed to hear) a handful of outstanding gardens and a wonderful opportunity to catch up with dear friends, old and new, and I’m feeling remarkably different to this time last week.

Times Square, New York

The bright lights of Times Square, New York

As I started to open my eyes to see beyond the potholes, it was the architecture that first struck me. Showcasing many different eras, there were magnificent buildings of all types. Buildings with an incredible degree of thought and detail and effort put into them. Really sophisticated design but so varied and intricate and just beautiful.

National September 11 Memorial & Museum, New York

9/11 Memorial: 400 swamp white oak trees surround two enormous water features on the site of the original towers

Visiting the 9/11 Memorial was perhaps the most extraordinary experience.  The architect, Michael Arad, whose design was selected from over 5,000 entries, had watched the second plane hit the South Tower from his rooftop, fifteen years ago. I can’t help but think this connection played a big part in Michael creating such a perfect atmosphere with his design. The whole site somehow emits respect, dignity, hope and renewal and its scale and simplicity, against the bustle of the surrounding streets, creates enormous impact and a sense of contemplation. An incredible and fitting monument.

Central Park, New York

Central Park, New York

Some lighter relief was felt that day in Central Park. We seemed to walk and walk and walk (I’ve walked 57 kilometres so far this week!) but still failed to make it from one end to the other of this 843-acre site. We admittedly got sidetracked by a few of the museums along adjoining Fifth Avenue as we headed north.

Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York

The Guggenheim Museum, designed by the incredible Frank Lloyd Wright, sits alongside Central Park

The following day, the garden visiting began. And when they put their minds to it, these Americans are pretty good at gardens, too. There are three that I’ll write up in more detail on separate posts:

1. The High Line

The High Line, New York

Oh my. This was good. Very, very, very good. I couldn’t stay away. What to do with all those photos though!

2. Chanticleer Garden

Chanticleer Garden, near Philadelphia

Described as a ‘gardener’s garden’, this had to be visited, despite being two or three hours away from New York. It didn’t disappoint.

3. Brooklyn Botanic Garden

Brooklyn Botanic Garden, New York

On the site of an old ‘garbage’ dump, the composting has definitely worked wonders! This garden prides itself on having many ‘firsts’ for American gardens, although the poor guide was very apologetic for how unimpressed an English horticulturist would be. She was, gladly, very wrong on this account!

* * *

Battery Park, New York

Shady seating with textural underplanting at Battery Park, New York, overlooking the Hudson River

I’ll leave you, for now, with a photo of the Manhattan skyline, taken from Brooklyn Bridge, whilst I desperately try and sort though my High Line images to come up with a sensible few. Why, oh, why, do I repeatedly take so many?!

View of Manhattan from the Brooklyn Bridge

View of Manhattan from the Brooklyn Bridge

23 thoughts on “A week in New York

  1. Pat Webster says:

    There is so much to see in and around NYC. If/when you return, try to get out to Long Island. Longhouse Reserve is a very special place… plus many other spots on the island. And check out New Jersey gardens, too — some exciting discoveries are waiting there.

    • jannaschreier says:

      There is so much, isn’t there? I don’t feel I have touched the surface. We actually looked at going to Long Island but decided it was a little far when there was so much to see close by. But thanks very much for the recommendations, I’ll definitely look into them next time.

  2. Deirdre says:

    Janna, I have never been there but hope to get there one day. My daughters tell me it is utterly amazing. Look forward to hearing more about it.

  3. Adriana says:

    Our daughter and her husband visited last year and absolutely loved it. The High Line impressed these non gardeners too.Look forward to your future posts Janna. I have been thinking a lot about Chanticleer – it seems like an amazing garden.

    • jannaschreier says:

      Non-gardeners? We’ll have to do something about that! But interesting to hear that they enjoyed the High Line too. Paul said it was one of his favourite things of the trip. I was given a book about Chanticleer in my last week in Australia, which unfortunately I haven’t yet had a chance to read. It will be off the shelf as soon as I’ve done the next lot of reading for my Masters!

  4. Barbara says:

    Again so wonderful to read your reports. As for photos, how about you publish a book with them “Gardens of NY”, “Gardens of the World” etc.

    • jannaschreier says:

      Thank you, Kate. I’m still amazed how much I loved New York! I will write a post on the High Line, but how many photos can one post have? I took a four figure number whilst I was there!!

    • jannaschreier says:

      Thanks, Diana. I am very lucky to go to these places. Can’t wait to see your part of the world, too. I’ll rely on you to put me straight when I get it all wrong, writing up the fynbos!

  5. germac4 says:

    New York is an amazing city isn’t it? I loved seeing spring blossoming trees in Central Park from the Metropolitan Museum of Art … Much as I love art galleries & museums … I always like to see some greenery to keep me grounded! I look forward to your posts on all the New York & surroundings gardens… Especially the High Line.

  6. An Eye For Detail says:

    Hi Janna: Had to pop over for a short visit…I’ll be back many, many times I am sure. I love your blog also! And, as I lived in The Big Apple for 15 years, it is near and dear to my heart. No, I would not want to live there now: that was before I discovered gardening! And I do think it is a really exhausting (not to mention expensive) place to be. But oh yes, so much to see and do and always so much walking. Alright: I’m off to subsribe and look around here!

    • jannaschreier says:

      Cities and gardens don’t mix very well, do they? Although we were very lucky to have a reasonably-sized garden in Sydney, before we relocated to London earlier this year. The Big Apple is a little exhausting, although I think we are all exhausted today! Quite inspired by the can-do, let’s-move-forward, professional attitude of everyone though.

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