Thursday, October 22, 2009

Piet Oudolf Design - Radiant Battery Park, New York

Epimedium in Spring, the Battery Bosque
(Photos: Alice Joyce)
At the southwestern tip of Manhattan, the gardens of Historic Battery Park rise up from a once neglected area of New York City. Since the completion of the Battery gardens,
its rebirth so to speak in 2005,
much has been written about the exuberant, flower-filled planting plan
created by the brilliant Dutch plantsman, Piet Oudolf.

On a lovely day in May, I had a chance to spend a few hours in the acclaimed setting:
in a sunlit area - the Gardens of Remembrance,
and the shadier shelter of the Battery Bosque.
The Gardens of Remembrance pay tribute to those who perished on 9/11,
and to the survivors who gathered here.

Stony Creek - a granite bench runs 1,500 feet along the length of the promenade,
configured as the "prow of Manhattan Island."

I toured the gardens with Sigrid Gray, director of horticulture for The Battery Conservancy, just a few days after their highly anticipated annual plant sale.
If you're in the area when Spring 2010 rolls around, you won't want to miss an opportunity to acquire unique hybrids and native species of organically grown, hardy perennial plants - ornamentals, herbs, and grasses.

The Battery landscape is maintained free of chemicals and fertilizers.
Sigrid revealed that they are able to lift divisions of the garden's thriving perennials -
a wealth of woodland and prairie plants nurtured in these 4 acres,
to produce an astounding annual surplus
of 75,000 perennial plants for other public gardens in New York City.
In essence, the parkland is a 100 per cent sustainable farm!

Tradescantia (spiderwort)

The Battery Bosque
The Battery is built on top of 3 subway lines and 2 major transportation tunnels, Sigrid wrote in an email. As mentioned above, the Oudolf-designed gardens comprise 4 acres.
Look for the 6-acre Perimeter Bikeway gardens to be completed in 2012.


Crambe maritima
Photos below, courtesy of The Battery Conservancy
Parthenium integrifolium, Panicum 'Dallas Blues' & Helenium 'Rubinzwerg'
The history of this land goes back hundreds of years to the Dutch settlers, and earlier still,
to the region's Native Americans.
Bosque Garden - Scutellaria incana (Skullcap)Tricyrtis 'Empress' & Penstemon digitalis Bosque Garden
Persicaria virginiana 'Lance Corporal' foreground, Molinia 'Transparent' in rear
The design preserved a stately grove of plane trees.
Swathes of Allium 'Globemaster' & Allium 'Purple Sensation'
commingle in the Bosque with drifts of complementary perennials,
key elements in an Oudolf design.

Gardens of Remembrance... the Promenade in Summer

Gardens of Remembrance - October view
In August, Astrantia 'Roma emerges along with Sanguisorba 'Red Thunder,'
and Tricyrtis 'Togen.'
Moving on to Fall, the choice cultivars & species include
a host of Asters & Korean feather reed grass,
& Panicum v. 'Shenandoah.'
November brings the golden leaves of Ginkgo,
fall crocuses, the textural wands of Miscanthus and wispy muhly grass.
Battery Gardens

Landscape Architects: Saratoga Associates
Garden Designer: Piet Oudolf


  1. Great shots, I especially like the Allium 'Purple Sensation.

  2. What a lovely garden to visit.
    Thanks for sharing

  3. beautiful! almost tempts me to consider ny for a visit...

  4. Will have to tell my friend in NY about this garden.

  5. I really admire his work and this looks very good. Thanks.

  6. Hi everyone,
    I can vouch for the special sense of place that sets these gardens apart, despite tourists in the area. What am I saying! There are tourists everywhere in New York!!
    But there is something shimmering about the Bosque, especially: A sanctuary for plant/nature/garden lovers. Do visit!

  7. A sanctuary indeed, Alice. Such a fitting design for the remembrance of 9/11. The beauty is breathtaking. Love that it produces the plants for the other parks too. I am a certified Pietaholic! :-)

  8. ditto on the sentiments by town mouse! I liked the Bosque garden photos. Love the grasses and alliums are my faves.

  9. The Bosque looks like a great place to visit. I went to New York in February of last year and Battery Park wasn't so colourful then - and it was flippin' cold, so we didn't linger long. Thanks for showing me what I missed :)

  10. I love the sweeping views in this garden. It takes talent and discipline to work with simple a simple palette and strong lines. You did a very nice job of taking us along on the tour with this post. I enjoyed it very much.

  11. I love the plane tree grove coming out of the vibrant grasses. Lovely Remembrance. The gardens are so lush and uplifting... Beautiful post. Carol

  12. Frances,
    Oudolf's plantings are an oasis of beauty in a city that will always remember the devastation of 9/11. I can't imagine a more fitting design to commemorate that day. The garden's abundance that you speak of - so many thousands of plant divisions - seems to advance the idea of spreading this sanctuary far and wide throughout New York. Such a generous spirit - no wonder there are so many 'certified Pietaholics' in the gardening world!!

    Wendy, The bosque embraces visitors in a very special way, with its beauty and lyrical layout. Let me know if are able to visit.

    Dear Nutty Gnome,
    February is a rather down time for gardens, yes? I hope you've warmed up ;~]
    Admittedly, winter is not the time of year when I tend to travel.
    Next time you're in New York, I hope it will be mild enough to linger....
    maybe we'll run into each other!

    Oudolf's ability to create such movement in his designs - veritable rivers of intertwining plant marriages, is captivating. It creates the sense of 'sweeping views' that you identify in the photos. Glad you enjoyed the tour!

    The lush and uplifting quality seems to be evidence of Oudolf's genius. I hope to return in order to experience the gardens in summer and fall when the grasses play off the bright tree trunks. I'm too cold-blooded for a winter visit, I fear.

    Thank you for stopping to comment, Alice

  13. Am off to New York next wek.
    Missed Battery Park last time so must remember to go: and the Highline of course. Last time I went upstate to look at leaves and the time before to Brooklyn Botanic Gardens where I saw some very disturbing Chrysanthemums.