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Hauser and Wirth – a return to Piet Oudolf’s gallery garden

We have visited the Piet Oudolf gardens at the Hauser and Wirth Galleries in Bruton, Somerset twice already. We wanted to visit once more to see how these amazing new perennial style gardens had matured.

We had to pass between the gallery buildings to reach the gardens but were drawn to these gently planted containers and gardens in the courtyards.

 

A sculpture piece by Richard Long graced one area of grass, but after a quick look and photo, we hurried through the gallery buildings and out into the main gardens. We were to find another Richard Long piece at the far end of the main garden, one of his circular works.

 

To give a true picture of the gardens here at the gallery I need to share a gallery with you showing views across board, plant compinations and a few individual plants too. Enjoy by clicking on the right arrow and navigate as usual using the arrows.

 

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Sussex Prairie Garden – a prairie garden in Sussex

This is a garden I have been reading about and admiring in photographs for several years and I have enjoyed watching it develop. Imagine our surprise when we were on a mid-week break in September and discovered that we were staying in a hotel not too far from the Sussex Prairie Garden. We couldn’t miss this opportunity so it soon found a slot in our schedule. The big question was “Can it really be as good as we are expecting?” and this stayed in my mind as we drove out to visit it. Surely we wouldn’t be disappointed!

We weren’t and we knew immediately that we wouldn’t be by the welcoming entrance, an unusual, quirky and humorous way in, coupled with a distinctive and beautifully designed garden sign.

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We also loved the simple stylized plan of the garden and the welcome notes on the back.

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The leaflet described the garden as an “extraordinary garden features huge borders of sumptuous planting combinations that inspire and immerse you in an ever changing wave of texture, colour and form.”

To get to the main garden and tea shop we diverted to follow a path through the cutting garden. This area was to prepare us for the wonderful main garden we would explore after our tea and cakes.

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There are 8 acres of naturalistically planted prairie garden containing over 50 ooo plants of over 1000 varieties and these are a magnet for wildlife. The only way to share such an exciting garden with you is to create a gallery for you to follow. As usual please click on the first photo and then navigate with the arrows.

We love sculpture in the garden and here at the Sussex Prairie Garden it was used very well, integrated beautifully into the planting areas and on open areas of mown grass.

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As we reached the furthest point in the garden from the entrance we were in for a colourful surprise before we continued on our wanderings, beautiful fabric hangings on the fence.

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So the Sussex Prairie was as good as we had hoped, the planting and design was remarkable. We must return again perhaps in the autumn season.

 

 

 

 

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Another friend’s garden – Holly Cottage

We love visiting small gardens listed in the National Garden Scheme’s famous Yellow book but even more enjoyable is visiting the NGS gardens of friends. So as we drove along miles of narrow lanes winding their way in and out of the counties of  Shropshire, Powys and Montgomeryshire we couldn’t wait to arrive at Holly Cottage, the home of Allison and Martin. As we approached the gateway our anticipation levels rose steeply as we spotted beautiful brightly coloured plantings running along the drive banks. The planting here varied and flowed from meadow planting to prairie style plantings and other areas of Alison’s own style. What a beautiful way to welcome visitors with a garden that embraces you so warmly.

Alison met us at the end of the drive and took us up to her home and garden. We had to wait a bit longer to explore the drive side plantings.

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This is also a garden with wide spreading beautiful views affording vistas of farmland leading to distant hills.

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Allison and Martin have built the garden to wrap around the house. The design is such that the garden surrounds the house and feels and looks as if it hugs the house. There is a beautiful link and bond between home and garden. Martin has built borders, walls and terraces in which Alison gardens with flair. A great team!

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Wildlife is welcomed into the garden.

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We started our tour of the garden in the courtyard behind the house where Allison is developing a collection of delicate Violas. Placed on shelving on a wall means that you can look these little beauties in the face and be engulfed by their scents. Such a clever idea!

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Moving around the side of the house we turned a corner to be greeted by more scent, but this time the scent came to us from shrubs, Philadelphia, Buddlejas, Rosa and more. There was also a richness of colour and texture. We wandered the narrow paths to study every beautiful plant and appreciate the way each plant worked with its neighbours.

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Through an archway beneath scented roses we moved into the little front garden enticed by the gentle bubbling sound of water.

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Exploring further steps took us around a series of raised beds holding herbs, cut flowers and nursery beds. Scent was evident here too, the warm relaxing scents of herbs. Soft coloured flowers burst from glaucous blues and grey of herb foliage. Temptation made us rub leaves between our fingers to savour the aromas and flavours.

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After a break for a chat enriched with tea and cakes, we excitedly wandered off towards the amazing borders clothing the two sides of the long drive.

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The simple and very common Moon Daisy is as beautiful as any rare tropical plant. Against a blue sky viewed from low down they present ethereal shapes, colours and patterns.

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To one side tall trees grew skyward from a native hedge and gravel paths invited us to discover the borders of meadowy prairie planting.

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What a beautiful afternoon we enjoyed in Allison and Martin’s garden. We came home with gifts of plants grown from seed by Alison in the greenhouse designed and made by Martin.

The garden at Holly Cottage

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Autumn at RHS Harlow Carr – Part Three

I am back with my third and final part of my posts featuring the wonderful RHS garden Harlow Carr. In the first post I mentioned a willow trail so here are a few of the pieces we came across on our wanderings.

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Living fences made from willow and hazel featured strongly in the productive gardens and some included seats built in also made of willow. It was seeing these when they were being created at Harlow Carr during the renovation of the kitchen gardens, that gave us the idea of creating our fedge at our allotment community gardens.

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I promised a return to the prairie style borders and my favourite part of late autumn borders, the dried flower heads and seed heads of perennials and grasses. The subtlety of colour and delicate contrasts make for a most pleasing picture.

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We left the perennial borders to follow paths through the stream garden which would give us the chance for a second look at the winter garden. Willow is used along the water’s edge to secure the bankside using a technique known as spiling. Beautiful stone bridges take the path back and forth over the stream.

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So that is Harlow Carr the northern jewel in the RHS’s crown, beautiful whenever you visit with surprises galore alongside old favourites. It won’t be long until be come back again!

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A Garden in December – Trentham – Part One

The final installment in my monthly series looking at how the gardens at Trentham change throughout the year.

The garden has gone full circle passing through the seasons. We began last January when the gardens were in the throes of winter and finish off in December in another winter.

As we crossed the River Trent on the suspension bridge we got a good view of the golden “River of Grasses” through the two trunks of a multi-stemmed Birch, our native Betula pendula. In all or our previous monthly wanders we turned right at the bottom of the bridge into this huge area of grasses. For our December wanderings we turned left partly because we fancied a change but mostly because we spotted a willow word.

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The gravel path took us beneath tall, ancient trees both deciduous and evergreen. Up in one we were surprised again to find a fairy looking down at us watching our every move.2014 12 16_8771 2014 12 16_8772

When we reached the willow NOEL we spotted a row of willow stars further along the path .

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On one old trunk where a large bough had been cut off nature had been at work with her army of fungi to eat away at the rotting wood, and thereby creating a piece of relief sculpture. Can you spot a figure emerging?

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After this little diversion from our usual route we retraced our footsteps to explore Piet Oudolf’s River of Grasses. Here a few seed heads stood against all odds having withstood the ravages of early winter.

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I have enjoyed seeing how the Betula nigra are looking on each of our monthly visits. The texture and colour of their peeling bark catches the light whatever the time of day or time of year.

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By passing through the avenue of Birches we found ourselves in Piet Oudolf’s prairie style borders, where so many different seed heads stood strong and proud.

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We enjoyed seeing how the gardeners had tied up some of the tallest of the old stems. We decided there and then to give it a go in our own patch.

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Where some of the herbaceous plants had been cut back by the gardening team, new growth of the freshest green has burst through and waits patiently for the Spring to come along. The cut down grasses however remain dormant, but without doubt within their sheaths new spears of green are making moves.

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Tiny vestiges of colour remained to surprise us, please us and amaze us.

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Before we left the prairie borders we looked back for the final time in 2014.

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We discovered new things at Trentham even this late in the year – a set of beautifully crafted wooden garden benches complete with meaningful phrases composed by local writers from Stoke-on-Trent’s past alongside a couple from the two great garden designers involved in Trentham Garden’s rebirth, Piet Oudolf and Tom Stuart-Smith.

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Read and enjoy P O’s words of wisdom – words which express the power of these amazing gardens.

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And reflections on the gardens from Tom Stuart-Smith ……….

“What was once a scene of decay is now a breathtaking panorama of beauty.”

There are two phrases from Arnold Bennet, a local 19th Century writer,

“You can turn over a new leaf every hour if you choose.”

“It is easier to go down hill than up but the view is from the top.”

The final two phrases were written much earlier by Capability Brown, 18th Century landscape designer and his contemporary John Bing, Viscount Torrington who owned Trentham at that time. John Bing wrote

“My old friend L Brown is to be traced at every turn……………. and a judicious former of water; the lake, here, is very fine”

Brown himself wrote,

“………. from its edges “quite round, making them everywhere correspond naturally with the ground on each side.”

A new phase of work is just starting to restore some of the early Capability grounds.

The old formal Italianate gardens that link the two main gardens had been replanted with seasonal bedding plants.

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In part two of our posts sharing our December visits to the wonderful gardens at Trentham, we move on to the gardens designed by Tom Stuart-Smith and see how they look as the year ends.

 

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A Garden in October/November – Trentham

We have now reached the penultimate posting in this series where we have been looking at how Trentham Gardens in Staffordshire have changed through the months during 2014. Since our last visit in September Autumn has taken a strong grip on the gardens. Many leaves have taken on their auutmn hues and many have fallen. But it is amazing how much colour there still is to enjoy, colours in late flowers, dried stems and seed heads.

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We always cross over the gently arching suspension footbridge over the River Trent full of anticipation. On our visit in early November we were presented with a sea of yellows, where Piet Oudolf’s River of Grasses had been transformed by the passage of time into a river of liquid gold.

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We wandered along the gravel path as it cut through the line of River Birch, Betula nigra in search of Oudolf’s prairie borders. These beautiful trees had already shed all their leaves but still drew our eyes as their bark was peeling and curling decoratively away from their trunks.

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Once in amongst the prairie planting we immediately noticed that seed heads in every hue of brown and beige and bright patches of late colour had joined the lemons, mustards and golds of the grasses. Pale purples glowed in the dull light of autumn. This glow is their secret weapon to attract moths and other night flying pollinators.

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The gardening team were hard at working replanting a section of one of the borders. It must be a never ending task. I suppose it gives them the chance to keep improving things as well as keeping the gardens in top condition.

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Deep pinks and cerise of the Persicarias and the Knautias catch the eye of every visitor. They look so good against the neutral shades that dominate gardens in the autumn.

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This lovely old Tulip Tree caught our attention. It is the oldest of its kind we have ever seen and a notice close by warned of the danger of falling branches. It must be susceptible to winter storms but should it fall it would make a wonderful natural bridge over the Trent. The dome of Hornbeam over a bench is now a golden dome.

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We made our way towards the formally planted Italian Parterre Garden, passing through an archway of Hornbeams on the way. Sunlight penetrated the coniferous plantings casting long shadows and creating bright patches. It lit up the little low box hedges of the  knot garden.

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The summer bedding in the parterre has been consigned to the compost heaps and winter/spring plants has taken their place, primulas and a deep red Bellis perennis.

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We always enjoy our first look out over the Tom Stuart-Smith gardens. We were not to be disappointed today.

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The autumn light emphasised the texture on this bronze sculpture and on the much newer tunnel archway which marks the way into the display gardens. It gave an all new look to the low slate walls around one of these gardens too. It again emphasised the texture but brought out extra colours too. The light similarly added colour to the plants and to the glass panels featured in another of the display gardens.

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A wander back through the Stuart-Smith gardens gave us the chance to see the planting in a different light. As the afternoon had progressed the sun dropped down lower and was back-lighting the plants, giving a very different perspective.

 

 

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The Rose Walk was still remarkably colourful with Roses, Cleomes and Verbena bonariensis still putting on strong performances. Butterflies and bees were still busy here too, the blooms having attracted them as they emerged hunting for sustenance as the temperatures rose slightly in the afternoon sunlight. You can see our long shadows cast across the border.

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From the long metal pergola we looked back over the Oudolf gardens and at the shrubs nearby and the butter yellow leaves of the Wisteria climbing over the framework.

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Now we can look forward to our final visit to Trentham for this year in readiness to publish the final episode in this series of posts. So far we have determined that gardens at Trentham are worthy of a visit any month of the year. Let us hope our December visit confirms it.

 

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Post 500 – Tom Stuart-Smith at Serge Hill 2

As promised we return to Serge Hill for the final part of my Post 500 series, where we will discover the garden Tom Stuart-Smith designed for his sister and also take a look at his own meadow and prairie garden. (apologies for the poor quality of the photos but I was trying out a new camera for the first time)

His sister’s garden is designed to reflect her particular needs and interests, but it is easy to see his favourite plants and planting combinations throughout.

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I could’t resist taking the shot below. It looks as if he gardener was caught out by the arrival of all those visitors, so made a hasty retreat.

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The prairie garden was very popular, which made taking photos pretty difficult. In fact it was so busy when we arrived that we went off to explore the paths cut through the acres and acres of native wildflower meadows

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When we found a quieter moment in the Prairie we returned for a wander. It was a lovely contrast to the native meadows. I shall start with one of the favourite garden plants of both Jude the Undergardener and myself, Dianthus carthusianorum. We have a clump of three at home but here they were planted by the hundred. Incredible delicate looking wiry plant that moves in the slightest breeze.

 

 

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I had the pleasure of a quick talk with Tom Stuart-Smith himself and I proudly left his garden with a signed copy of his book under my arm, a book all about making his Barn Garden.

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Post 500 – Tom Stuart-Smith at Serge Hill

As promised for the third in my week’s posts celebrating my 500th post we go down to Hertfordshire to explore Tom Stuart-Smith’s garden designs at his own home and the home of his sister. The family home at Serge Hill is surrounded by mature planting. The new gardens  designed by T S-S are within its grounds. When these gardens open they are very popular with thousands of visitors making an appearance. It looks very busy and taking photos is difficult as the gardens are only open for one day each year as part of the National Garden Scheme, so people find it in the famous Yellow Book. The friendly herd of Guernsey calves greeted every visitor. We wandered through the gardens around the house which had been there a long time but the influence of T S-S can be seen.

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In the gardens at Tom’s and his sister’s, both designed to suit their particular needs, we felt we had found the nearest to perfection in meadow planting, prairie planting and courtyard planting. Come with us and see what you think.

Firstly I shall share my photos of the courtyard at The Barn. It has an atmosphere of such calm. Those loungers must provide a wonderful place in which to relax and be content with the world. The rectangular corton steel pools with their sheets of water dyed black for extra reflection mirror so clearly the moving clouds and any overhanging plants. Looking into them it appears as if they are bottomless.

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The planting is so simple but effective. Every plant has its place and complements its partners perfectly. Chartreuse and purple flowers and bracts work together so well against their background of grasses and coloured foliage.

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Reaching the prairie we found fellow garden fellow visitors exploring every pathway that were winding throughout.

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Close by a huge area had been planted as a native wildflower meadow which provided a wonderful contrast to the more vibrant prairie. We shall look in greater detail at the prairie and meadow as well as Tom Stuart-Smith’s sister’s garden in the next post.

 

 

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Post 500 – Part Two – a further visit to the “Oudolf Field”

As promised I am returning to the beautiful county of Somerset where Jude and I spent a day exploring the exciting new “Oudolf Field” and the gallery buildings at the Hauser and Wirth’s Durslade Farm.

We left off as we were looking at the pool and giant clock. This is the first time we have seen any water designed into an Oudolf designed garden and indeed the first one to include a giant clock. The pool afforded clear reflections of the trees surrounding the site and was only planted around the margin closest to the buildings to give the maximum area of reflecting water.

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The tall clock towers over the pool and its white face stands out against the brightness of the blue sky. I would imagine it would look great against black clouds too! It casts a beautiful lollipop shadow across the golden gravel. Its face looks like a big circular disc but it is in reality asymmetric in design, which causes the minute hand to move out into clear air as it moves into the narrow side.

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Although the planting is lower than in his previous gardens Piet Oudolf still uses many of his favourite plants such as Sanguisorbas, Echinaceas, Verbenas and Heleniums.

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We had a break for coffee and to look around the galleries before wandering the gardens again as the sun dropped slowly in the sky and the light gave the meadows a fresh look.

We were enthralled by a gallery where a display of Oudolf’s garden designs helps reveal how this garden designer’s mind works. We loved the designs and working drawings and “idea jottings” of this garden here in Somerset as well as those from the New York High Line and the Wisley Garden.

Moving from gallery to gallery each courtyard space is softened by more of Oudolf’s plantings, featuring trees underplanted with grasses and perennials. The sculptural pieces sit comfortably among the old farm buildings with their richly textured surfaces.

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Enjoy the gallery of photos taken in the sparkling late afternoon light. It is amazing how different plantings can look as the light changes within just a few hours at this time of year.

The next post in my 500 Celebration series will find us over in Hertfordshire where Tom Stuart-Smith lives. We had the privilege of visiting his own garden and the one he designed for his sister.

 

 

 

 

 

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Post 500! A look at two garden designers.

To celebrate reaching 500 posts in my Greenbenchramblings adventures I thought I would create a week of posts about my favourite garden designers, Piet Oudolf and Tom Stuart-Smith. I have featured examples of their gardens several times already but these are special gardens. The Piet Oudolf garden here is his latest creation in Somerset and the Tom Stuart-Smith gardens are his own garden and the one he designed for his sister who lives just yards away.

The garden, called the Oudolf Field sits within the grounds of the Hauser and Wirth Gallery in the Somerset village of Bruton. This 1.5 acre garden was only planted this year so we visited in its very early stages. The garden is better described as a perennial meadow than his usual tall prairie. The plants are generally shorter so that more of each border and the garden as a whole can be seen at one go. The meadow is designed to feel soft and loose and the style is reflected in smaller gardens all around the farm buildings. Unusually for his gardens he has included a pool here.

So let’s start on our tour beginning as we leave the restaurant in the old renovated farm buildings. A grassed area with widely spaced trees contains unusual seats in which to relax and view the garden, sit and enjoy a coffee or read a book. These “Eye Benches” are made from black Zimbabwe granite.

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The meadow style borders themselves contain over 26 000 plants and winding paths invite the visitor to view each border from all different angles. Unusually for Oudolf he has designed most of the planting to be low enough to look over it and view most of the garden. Jude the Undergardener is unconvinced by this as it all seemed so low and I have to agree to an extent. I much prefer his taller plantings but time will tell. After all this garden is just a few months old.

Come for a wander and see the “field” through the lens of my camera. Just click on a shot and follow the arrows to navigate.