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
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