Thursday, July 5, 2007

Piet Oudolf's Private Garden

Last week I went to Piet Oudolf to look at his nursery and private garden. I had paid him a visit before, last October, but that was during the Grass Days (held annually) when several other nurseries sell their stuff at Piet's place too. I had been so busy then buying lots of plants, grasses and bulbs and having a good look around his nursery, that I didn't have enough time to see his garden too.Bummer! But this time I went to see his garden first and foremost. The picture above shows the entrance to his garden, house and nursery. The garden is in front of the house and the nursery is at the back.
As you walk up the driveway there's a tunnel on the right that leads directly into the garden. You walk through the tunnel and this is the first thing you see.
It's a circle made of bricks and hedges and in the middle are tall grasses. Fun isn't it, this mixture of materials, shapes and contrasts. If you turn to the left you see the house (farm) and the garden that is directly in front of the house. Note the strong diagonal and horizontal lines in this part of the garden, contrasting with the round shapes of trees and circles of hedges.

Here you see the house up close and personal. The contrast between the solid and unmoving block of house and the light and airy grass fluttering about in the breeze is very noticeable.

Now we turn away from the house and walk along the diagonal path that takes us to the second part of the garden here, beyond that circle of brick and hedges.
Contrast is the name of Piet's game cause lookee here
and here
and here.

See what he's doing? There is contrast in shape (it's the leaves stupid!), contrast in colour and contrast between solid and airy. On the pic above you see solid blocks of yew that contrast sharply with the airy plants that are planted in waves. The underlying contrast is between the unmovable and solid blocks of yew and the airy grasses and other plants that dance around in the breeze. Many plants are planted in waves or drifts thus enforcing the illusion of movement.

The main colour scheme in this part of the garden consists of purple, mauve, pink, blue and white. Mostly solitary plants in red and yellow are dotted about to liven things up a bit. Using pastel colours only, can turn your whole colour scheme into a snore fest. Not of the good, so you need to add a bit of oomph.

Above a bit of yellow and red to spice things up a bit.
Alliums planted in blocks/groups.
This sea of colour waving about in the breeze is enclosed by hedges and trees. (again with the movable and unmovable objects). There are also views of the surrounding countryside (borrowed landscape) from the garden as you can see below.

I love Piet's garden, it is truly very beautiful. The second part appealed to me most because of the wonderful use of colour. Colour is its own reward, which Piet demonstrates here to perfection. Fortunately, as beautiful as his garden is, it is not perfect. Nope, this is a real garden because look what I found here.
That's right, a great big gaping hole in his border. If that isn't encouraging to the amateur gardener, then I don't know what is. Little oopses happen to the best of us, that much is clear. What a relief, eh?

I hope you liked this little tour around Piet Oudolf's private garden and if you're ever in the neighbourhood, do yourself a big favour and go see this wonderful garden.

The most uninteresting garden is one that has been made on a fixed plan, rigidly adhered to through succeeding years, till what may have been good and beautiful at the beginning becomes dull, uninteresting, and ugly. Canon Henry Ellacombe, In a Glouchestershire Garden, 1896


karin a said...

What a garden! Would love to go there when ever I come to the Netherlands. It's always interesting to see how other people use contrasts while gardening. Different shapes and colors really make a difference. Thank you for this lovely tour!

RUTH said...

What a wonderful garden; I love the use of grasses, something I've only really appreciated the last few years. With a small garden myself in which I break all the rules of what goes where and colour combinations I appreciate the diversity of texture and colours Piet Oudolf has achieved. Oh and how wonderful to see that gaping hole!...I wish I had more of them myself so I could plant more plants!;o) I like the quote at the end of your post too.

Ellen said...

Thank you so much for posting about these gardens; it is so nice to see a bit of my homeland from time to time. I so wish I could have gardens like your's and Piet's. I tried it my first year in the Rocky Mountains and failed miserably. Now I'm actually succeeding in growing a small veggie garden, and I'm sure I'll expand next year.
I'm heading to Holland next month and would love to go see Piet's garden; now I only need to find the time. You see, I'll be VERY busy shopping for real cheese, dropjes, gevulde koek, and all those dutch neccessitites we can't live without. ;-)
I'll keep on living vicariously through your blog, though.

Layanee said...

Thank you for the garden tour! It is a treat to see this garden which I hope, one day, to see in person! Grasses rule!

Naturegirl said...

Certainly much inspiration viewing this garden! I like his use of color the same as I use in my garden and I agree one must add a bit of P-O-P with the strong yellow with the pastels!I do wish I was walking this tour with you discussing our observations but this is the next best. Thank you for allowing us this tour and sharing! happy gardening to you! hugs NG

marl1 said...

Dat was een mooie rondleiding.
Het heeft zeker iets opluchtends als je in open tuinen een 'oopsje' ziet...;-)

stadtgarten said...

What an interesting garden, it's really wonderful.
Reading your blog and seeing all those nice pictures, I get more and more convinced that I want to make a garden journey to the Netherlands. But I still have to convince my husband:)

To answer your question in my blog: we are going to stay in Nieuwvliet, a small holiday village directly at the coast in West-Zeeuwsch-Vlaanderen. It's lovely there, but it is no garden landscape.
Groetjes, Monika

Ellis Hollow said...

Piet is my biggest inspiration. I try to adapt some of his design principles (awkwardly, at best) to my own setting. I'd love to visit his garden, but would probably choose late fall early winter to see how well his observation "Great plants look good dead" works in his own garden.

I also like how his designs aren't crammed with color. It's there. But it's in blocks set off by other shapes and forms and not competing with other blocks of color.

His books are great. I like to review them before I start ordering seeds and plants.

LostRoses said...

Piet really knows how to mix it up, doesn't he? Some very interesting juxtapositions in that garden, and I love the huge grasses in the big circular brick planter. Quite a treat for the eye!

jodi said...

How lucky you are, Y-E, to have visited this garden. (and how lucky we are that you shared your visit with us). I love the way he plays with texture and how it's not all about colour, but about foliage forms and heights and all those other things designers talk about. I love the quotation "Great Plants look great dead." shared by another reader, too!

marga said...

Heb van je rondleiding genoten. Heb al vaker gehoord dat het zo'n mooie tuin moet zijn en nou heb ik er iets van gezien. Wie weet...misschien gaan we de tuin ooit ook eens bezoeken.
Groetjes Marga

Marie (FKA Piana Nanna) said...

How wonderful to have this garden near your home.
I really love the quote you chose. It makes me feel comfortable with the loose, cottage garden I am growing.

SchneiderHein said...

Hallo Yolanda,
nun waren wir doch viel zu langsam: Gleich nach Deinem Kommentar bei uns, haben wir Deinen Urlaubs-Post angesehen und Dich beneidet. Das wäre wohl auch für uns der perfekte Urlaub! Obwohl Maus&Allegra in ihrem Zuhause bestens durch unsere Mitbewohnerin versorgt wären, fehlen sie uns schon nach wenigen Tagen. Mitnehmen wäre die beste Alternative, aber andererseits maunzen die Beiden im Körbchen auf der Fahrt um die Wette. Wie übersteht das Bliss-Reise-Team so eine Fahrt?
Niederländische Gärten besuchen und Baumschulen heimsuchen - eine schönere Urlaubsgestaltung könnten wir uns im Moment kaum vorstellen. Nur wenn es dann anschließend am Platz für die neuen Trophäen mangelt, käme der Katzenjammer...
Aber bei Dir sieht es nach einem rundherum gelungenen Urlaub aus!
Und dann noch die ergänzenden Einblicke in Piet Oudolf's Garten. Im Laufe der Jahre habe ich schon viele Bilder und Berichte gesehen, aber es ist immer wieder interessant neue Perspektiven und Jahreszeiten von einem Garten kennenlernen zu können.
Daher bin ich nun auch schon gespannt, was Du demnächst wieder aus Deinem Garten zeigen wirst.
Liebe Grüße Silke

Greenman said...

Thank You for your visit in my blog.
I loved your blog. I'm sure I'll have a good time reading it and following your garden steps!

I've linked you!

Birgit said...

Ist das ein schöner Garten! Allein schon der Tunnel, durch den man in den Garten kommt ist geheimnisvoll. Der Kreis mit dem China-Chilf ist auch sehr interessant anzusehen. Ich höre das Schilf direkt im Wind rauschen. Das Herrenhaus wirkt mal wieder sehr englisch. Und erst die vielen gemischen schönen Stauden und Gräser-Beete! Man sieht keine Erde mehr. So mag ich es sehr.
Vielen Dank, dass Du uns an diesem schönen Rundgang durch Piet Oudolf´s Garten teilhaben lässt. Ich wünsche Dir ein schönes (trockenes) Wochenende. Ich schätze, das gesamte Bliss-Team ist zur Zeit mehr innen als außen zu finden.
LG Birgit

Dawn said...

My goodness, what a beautiful garden! Thank you so much for sharing your experience and photos. I've never seen a tunnel like that one with such an uniquely shaped arch overhead. Truly breathtaking!


Angela @ Cottage Magpie + Garden said...

Oh, thank you thank you thank you for sharing those pictures. What a treat! I especially love the photo that shows the dragon back yews in the background. And the gaping hole in the border! YES! ~A :-)

Entangled said...

Thank you so much for that insightful tour! Piet Oudolf has been getting a lot of ink in North American publications in the last few years, but I confess I've never picked up one of his books. Now they're on my shopping list.

Green thumb said...

A trip to Gelderland followed by a visit to this lovely private garden! Things are getting better and better. What's next dear Yolanda?

Jalos said...

Wat een geweldige tour Yolanda!
Ik heb genoten!
En natuurlijk leuk dat je ons dat gapende gat laat zien. ;-)
Als ik ooit eens in de buurt ben wil ik er ook eens kijken maar nu genoten van jouw foto's.
Dank je wel!

Bert said...

Hi Yolanda,
Very nice to see Piet's garden.
I love to go there myself once, well maybe in the near future I will. I love his grasses and choice of plants. Thanks for showing these pictures, they are an inspiration for me.

firefly said...

That was a lovely tour, even more so because of the illustrative photos and your knowledge of design.

One thing I've noticed quite a bit lately is the advice to consider foliage as the basis for an interesting garden design. This is the third time I've heard it in association with a garden designer, but all the catalogs push flowers as the main point for consideration and they rarely discuss foliage unless it has a 'wow' factor.

Felicia said...

Oh, thank you so much for that beautiful tour :)

Debbie @ Cozy Cottage Gifts and Decor said...

What a lovely blog you have....thank you so much for sharing it with us! :)

Hillside Garden said...

Selbst war ich leider noch nicht dort, aber ich liebe die Eiben und die vielen Gräser in diesem Garten.


Friso said...

Ik ha din tuinbalden al eens foto's van deze tuin gezien dus sommige delen van de tuin 'herken' ik. Ik zou er toch eens zelf naar toe moeten gaan, het ziet er prachtig uit. Leuk ook dat je laat zien dat daar ook gaten in de border zitten ;-)

A wildlife gardener said...

Yolanda, I have recommended you for the Bloggers For Global Change award on my 10 July post. All the details are there.

I will be back to catch up on your recent posts and leave a comment :)

Bev said...

Yolanda, I have tagged you for Seven Random Thoughts About Myself... see my blog for info. That was sure a nice tour!

guild_rez said...

I have enjoyed and read many books from Piet Oudolf. His gardens are on my list of places I'll visit during my next trip to Europe. I love Amsterdam, the city offers so many wonderful shops and restaurants.
chhers Gisela

Dawn said...

Amazing... thank you for sharing!

Pam/Digging said...

I sure wish I'd had time for a day trip to see his garden while I was in Amsterdam earlier this month. I LOVED Amsterdam, however, and will have to make a return trip one day, with enough time to visit Oudolf's garden too.

Beverly said...

Very beautiful. Thanks for the tour:)

Hannele said...

wonderful to see, I have Piet Oudolf's book and I have seen hims work in Garen Wisley, I love it.

shirl said...

Oh, Yolanda

I am so green, green, GREEN with envy of your visit to Piet Oudolf’s Private garden – I have many of his books and I love his plantings especially his use of plants with movement!

Thank-you so much for sharing your visit through your photos – his garden slightly reminds me of Great Dixter, in England, the garden of the late Christopher Lloyd and perhaps parts of Sissinghurst but at the same time it is quite unique. I don’t need to ask if you enjoyed your visit!

Salix Tree said...

I've always loved Piet's natural plantings. It's almost as if he uses a paintbrush that paints plants as he swishes it over the landscape.

heirloomgardener said...

Thank you for sharing your visit to Piet Oudolf's garden. It is inspiring. I just wrote about my visit to Battery Park, designed by Piet Oudolf, and his influence on my garden:

I am putting a link to this post on my blog. Thank you!

-Heirloom Gardener