The subject of parks makes me sit back and consider not only what they are, but what they represent. The history of parks is the history of mankind moving away from nature. For 99% of human history, we lived in harmony with nature; we were part of it. Then we surrounded ourselves with bricks and put concrete where grass used to grow and we called it progress. At that point, we realized that we actually missed the green stuff and introduced parks into the concrete jungles we had built, so in a way, parks are an admission that we got things wrong.
We get a lot of things wrong, but despite our bumbling incompetency, nature prevails. Nowhere was this more apparent to me than in Tikal National Park in Guatemala, as I sat on the top step of Temple 4 looking out across what used to be the New York of Central America. It was at the height of its power around 200 to 600 AD. Now look at it.
Give it another 2,000 years and that could be the the Empire State Building peeping out from the jungle. Actually, you don’t even have to wait that long to see how nature can reclaim its hold. My favourite park in New York is the High Line. The High Line was an elevated freight train line that was built in the 1930s. It fell into disuse in the 1980s and lay abandoned until, in 2006, work began to turn it into an extraordinary urban park. It runs along the west side of Manhattan from Gansevoort St. up to 30th St. with future plans to extend it up to 34th St. If you enter at 30th St. you will get a glimpse of how nature had firmly re-established a foothold before it was turned into the masterpiece it is today.
Here’s where the genius of garden designer and master plantsman Piet Oudolf enters the picture. Taking his inspiration from what nature herself had done, he carefully crafted an exquisite concoction of feathery grasses that sway as you pass by and beg you to run your fingers through them; interspersed with plants that look just as lovely gone to seed as they do in full bloom. His planting is about texture and silhouettes; he plays with plants the way Miles Davis played jazz and Van Gogh painted skies. The end result is something wild and free and very beautiful; something that Mother Nature herself would be proud of.
The High Line gets my vote as the best place to unwind in the city and reconnect with nature, but it is also a great place to take in a musical performance…
hold a photoshoot…
sneak a peek at a rehearsal…
watch the world go by…
make believe you can fly…
and see the city at night.
Finally, thanks to the visionary Piet Oudolf, we got something right.
If you have a park you’d like to share, create your own post between now and next Friday, title it “Travel theme: Parks” and put a link to this page in your blog post to make it easy for others to find your post. Don’t forget to check back in next Friday for a new travel theme. And if you want to see more of Piet Oudolf’s genius at work in New York, see my nature blog posts here and here.
Where is your favourite park?
I adore parks! Thanks for this travel theme 😀
Excellent, looking forward to hearing about your park 🙂
Love your photos. I’m off to the park…
Lovely post Ailsa. I really like the urban mixed with natural. My all-time favourite park, so far, is Stanley Park in Vancouver, beautiful forest surrounded by coastal paths and beaches, flora and wildlife. Something for everyone.
I’ve been to Stanley Park, Suzan, it’s lovely. My favourite parts were Beaver Lake and Siwash Rock.
Hey Ailsa! The best so far! I would love to go to that place. You inspire me to travel! 🙂
Woot, that is the best compliment ever. 🙂
So very beautiful, both the writing and the photos. Thanks for sharing it with us. 🙂
Thank you, Sharon, I am such a huge fan of Piet Oudolf’s work I could write volumes and photograph forever 🙂
I looked at your other posts involving his work. Incredible. It makes me want to visit just to see it!
I can’t get enough of his work. If I ever won the lottery, I’d do a world tour of Piet Oudolf gardens. 🙂
Brilliant photos Ailsa! And beautiful landscaping. Now off to hunt for some parks 🙂
Have fun, Madhu, looking forward to seeing what you find. xxx
Such fabulous photos, and a great theme, Ailsa
Thanks Charlene, looking forward to seeing a park from South Africa… 🙂
I never made it there when I lived in NJ! Will have to make a point of going!
It is the first place I take friends when they visit New York; you would love it, Zully. I could live there. 🙂
Lovely ode to the wonderful High Line. It’s a beautiful and innovative park – may there be more such in our city & others.
Have you heard about plans for the Low Line, Melissa? Sounds pretty darned cool too! http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/04/03/lowline-creators-reach-in_n_1399911.html
Now you’ve got me thinking! 🙂 Nice photos and great writing.
Thanks, Penny. I bet you and your carry-on have seen some pretty great parks on your travels.
I’m still thinking… :))
I have read much about this park in New York and I think when I’ll visit the Big Apple it will be one of my goals…
Here my entry, a picture of Yarra Rangers National Park, one of the many parks in Australia.
The park was built after the deforestation caused by man who used native timber to build the new world…
Magical, mystical forest, badflea, the light in your shot is stunning. I’m happy you joined the travel challenge 🙂
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Thanks for the tour around Portland’s Laurelhurst Park, strawberryindigo. You live in a very beautiful part of the world. Oregon’s coastlines are world class 🙂
Wonderful writing and great pictures for the park theme! What a genius design. Thanks, Ailsa!
Thanks, Amy, and thanks for the follow on my nature blog too! I’m feeling the blog love. 🙂
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That is really an amazing park. Great images.
Here is the link to my entry
Stunning photo of the Boboli Gardens, Marina. Those Medicis really knew what they were doing, didn’t they? 🙂
A great post and pics on nature and reclaimed nature. I love city, state and national parks.
Me too, canoe & communications, they make the world a better place.
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Thanks for the inspiration, again! http://soundslikewish.wordpress.com/2012/06/23/ailsas-travel-photo-challenge-parks/
Fabulous shot of 1940s French Gardens in Alexandria, Trish. Your dad’s photos are so very lovely.
Ailsa, I love the images of musicians and rehearsals. I think I would love that aspect of New York. I can see you’re enjoying your life there.
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Really fun perspective of what makes a great park, Elissa 🙂
That’s an amazing park. It reminds me of Freeway Park in Seattle, which was built on a cap over I-5 back in the 70s. Reclaimed open space is a wonderful thing.
I agree, mmjustus. Do you have any park photos to share? I’d love you to join in. 🙂
Lots of national park photos, but not city parks, I’m afraid.
National Parks are perfect for this week’s travel theme. 🙂
Lovely photos! I especially love the violinist photo and the night photo. 🙂
The High Line at night fascinates me; there are wonderful pools of light all along the walkway.
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Here is mine. CENTRAL PARK. http://wp.me/p23TG1-T6
BE ENCOURAGED! BE BLESSED!
Romance in Central Park, how lovely, Francine 🙂
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Love the photos! I definitely will need to check out the park next time I am in New York. Here is my contribution from my other blog: http://doubledallabouttown.wordpress.com/?p=186&preview=true
Beautiful pelican shots, Debbie, and I love the sound of the Dragon Boat Festival!
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Hey Rob, your son is braver than me. I got the heebie-geebies just looking at the photos 🙂
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Wonderful post, I have heard of this place, but your photos bring it to life.
Here is my contribution to your challenge:
What a stunning location for a botanic garden, Madoqua. I watched a television programme about the Kirstenbosch Botanic Gardens and was bowled over by its beauty. How lucky you are to have visited it twice. 🙂
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That scene in the first image is breathtaking, but I bet it was even more so in person. Your shots of the garden are also great. You have a great eye for street photography, I wish I had it. I could wander around a scene like that all day, completely clueless, and not come away with anything 1/4th as nice.
That garden could almost, and that is one monumentally huge almost, make living in the city bearable. 🙂
Oh Jeff, you would have loved it. The sun went down in a blazing inferno, then there was a pale pink glimmer the likes of which I’ve never seen before. And then I turned around and watched the full moon rise over the jungle. It was insane, couldn’t believe my luck. Actually, check it out here https://wheresmybackpack.com/2011/12/17/tikaaaal/ Some of the early shots were a bit blown out but I bunged ’em in anyway to tell the story. xxx
Amazing post, Ailsa! Absolutely inspiring. Here is my post on the Chicago Lakefront Parks. One of my favorite places in the entire world.
I can see why you’d miss that place, Tahira 🙂
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I love discovering New York through your eyes, especially as my sister lives just outside NY and I can introduce her to bits of the city she doesn’t know about.
My entry this week is about Gaudi’s Parc Guelle in Barcelona
Wow! Adding Parc Guelle to my bucket list now. Hey, tell your sister the High Line is where it’s at! 🙂
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I really have to go back to New York and see all the places you have in your blog! http://ayearinmyshoes.wordpress.com/2012/06/23/travel-theme-parks/
That is a really great compliment, Livvy, thank you. Your wintry photo has made me feel slightly cooler in the midst of the sweltering NY summer heat.
well chosen topic again!
Thanks, frizztext 🙂
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hello Ailsa, thank you again for inspiring, my contribution:
Monbijou Park in Berlin
..down by the riverside, down by the riverside… going to be singing that all week now 🙂
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Ooooh, another good one. I’ll see what I can put together. 🙂
Another great theme. Here’s mine: http://newsofthetimes.org/2012/06/26/weekly-travel-theme-parks/
Wow. Just wow. So beautiful. Isn’t nature marvellous? xxx
Absolutely spectacular!!!! Thanks for encouragement!
Here’s mine for the week
Most thought-provoking bridal portrait ever, very lovely. xxx
I’m afraid mine isn’t as beautiful or serious as everyone else’s!
I would argue that it is every bit as beautiful 😉
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HighLine is one of my favorite parks in the city. 😉
The best thing about it is that it is beautiful year round. My favourite time of year to walk it is winter.
I love it in spring and summer but year round it’s great too. 🙂
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I’d love to visit that park in New York, it looks unique,
I love topiary; always wanted to visit Levens Hall in the UK, which is supposed to be one of the finest topiary gardens there is. http://www.levenshall.co.uk/Historic_Garden_james_grahme.asp
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This was a fun oudoorsy travel theme. 🙂 Here is my submission: http://canoecommunications.wordpress.com/2012/06/24/saturday-in-the-park/
Looks like Illinois has some terrific green spaces 🙂