Hiding From the High Line

Photo: Nikolas Koenig

Marianne Boesky loves the High Line. She really does. The Chelsea gallerist just doesn’t want to feel as if she’s living on it. Which could have been a problem, since the skinny, L-shaped terrace of her apartment—designed by architect Deborah Berke and sitting atop Boesky’s eponymous gallery—is five feet from the elevated railway. In order to prepare for the eventual onslaught of strollers who will accompany the planned opening of the High Line’s second phase in fall 2010, Boesky commissioned landscape designer Paula Hayes to design the 2,400-square-foot outdoor space, including a beautiful buffer: a sixteen-foot-long driftwood wall. “We wanted a really earthy, natural setting to serve as a foil for the cement grid of Chelsea,” says Boesky. To block off the rest of the terrace, Hayes planted a network of fruit trees and bushes—right now flowering with plums, Concord grapes, raspberries, blueberries, and “aronia, for the birds”—along the perimeter, joining the wisteria and ivy that are taking over a chain-link fence. She filled some of her “dumpling planters”—a soft-bottomed pot she developed from pond liner material—with impatiens and other flowers. Fieldstones and river rocks line the paths around a flower bed that’s planted with grapevines, asters, pines, and Little Bluestem grass, and eight-foot skylights direct light to the gallery’s exhibit rooms below. There’s a bronze sculpture called Old Maid, by the artist Liz Craft, curled up in one corner; a green birdhouse Boesky’s brother gave her; and glass-topped tables by Warren Platner. It feels like a “traditional wild garden,” says Boesky, that keeps the city at arm’s length.

Photo: Left: Wendy Goodman; Right: Nikolas Koenig

The Skylights
The terrace is also the roof of Boesky’s gallery, so natural light now floods the exhibit space below. Hayes chose white impatiens instead of colored florals, which would have reflected into the gallery.

The Driftwood Wall
Hayes asked the artist Mark Wilson to help design the wall; he collected driftwood from Montauk beaches. The green orb is a birdhouse given to Boesky by her brother.
The Path
That leads to the berry plants at the far end of the terrace is partially composed of fieldstone and river rocks.
The Fruit Component
It’s not quite a Greenmarket, but Boesky can pick plums, Concord grapes, raspberries, and blueberries around her roof.
The Planters
Hayes has a design patent pending on these “dumpling planters.” Her own show of sculpture and landscape design is at Boesky’s gallery (509 W. 24th St., nr. Tenth Ave.) now through August 15.
The Grass and Plant Borders
“Rooftop gardens in New York are like the sides of mountains, with ridiculous temperature and sunlight extremes to navigate,” says Hayes. She planted sturdy grasses and bushes like bayberry that would thrive in extremes.

Hiding From the High Line