The Gardens of Piet Oudolf

Piet Oudolf has been one of the most influential garden designers in the C21. We have had the pleasure of seeing several examples of his work. The development of our own garden has been influenced by his choice of plants and his plant combination. Our borders now feature far more grasses, achilleas, monardas, alliums, heleniums and sedum and we consider more carefully how good plants can look as they die off during the autumn and how well they stand in the winter.

I wonder why local authorities in the UK have not taken his ideas on board – why do we still see so much Victorian bedding in our parks and other areas of public planting? Shrewsbury, our closest town and the county town of Shropshire, seems to be going backwards with more such backward-looking planting appearing. We often look at the local roundabouts and parks and think how good they could look if more imaginative, “new perennial style” gardening was adopted. Just look at Oudolf’s planting at Wisley, Trentham and Pensthorpe and imagine how well this style would work in public spaces.

We visited Pensthorpe in Norfolk not long after the Piet Oudolf garden had been revamped, and they were looking splendid.

We visited the wonderful gardens at Trentham several times during 2011 and early in 2012. Whenever you visit the gardens by Oudolf are outstanding. Piet Oudolf’s planting here is in two distinct areas with contrasting character and atmosphere. his “Rivers od Grasses” is unlike any planting I have ever experienced. Lush green low-cut paths meander through mass plantings of tall decorative grasses. Children seem to love this area seeing it as an informal maze, a place to explore gently and quietly. This is a wonderful example of how plants and garden design in public places can influence how people feel and move around.

Beyond the River of Grass is an area of perennials and grasses planted “en masse” with winding gravel paths for exploration.

I decided to look back through my photo library for examples of pictures I have taken over the last year or so that show how our own planting has been influenced by the work of Piet Oudolf. Firstly in “The Chicken Garden” in May when the lollipop flowers of allium dominate.

New planting of grasses and sedum in the recently re-vamped “Prairie Garden”.

In our “Hot Border” a mass planting of Crocosmia “Lucifer” are interspersed with campanula, verbascum and inula.

Published by greenbenchramblings

A retired primary school head teacher, I now spend much of my time gardening in our quarter acre plot in rural Shropshire south of Shrewsbury. I share my garden with Jude my wife a newly retired teacher , eight assorted chickens and a plethora of wildlife. Jude does all the heavy work as I have a damaged spine and right leg. We also garden on an allotment nearby. We are interested in all things related to gardens, green issues and wildlife.

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