Gardening is all about balance. It’s a fluid interaction between freedom and control, of mixing neatly trimmed hedges and equally spaced plants with some sense of wilderness. Over the past 25 years, Dutch garden designer Piet Oudolf has been incredibly influential in redefining what we may consider naturalism in planting practices. In this article, we’ll be exploring key ideas from Oudolf that you can incorporate into your own garden.
Oudolf is known for his almost melancholic, naturalistic style when it comes to garden design. By rooting his design in an abundance of grasses, the resulting effect is harmonious and subtle, with soft, complex colours. With hues of rust, deep purples and overarching, delicate grasses, Oudolf creates a dreamy landscape, in which patterns of repetition and contrast are championed.
Choice of Plants
One of the most remarkable things about Oudolf’s design is the ways in which its beauty doesn’t fade over time. Because he understands the ways that plants behave throughout different seasons, his choice of plants transforms the garden design into a work of art. By favouring clump-forming perennials such as Helenium, Astilbe, Sanguisorba and Molinia, the plants retained their original form as monocultural blocks throughout the year.
There’s not much that’s more stunning than a well formed garden- and with Oudolf’s naturalism-oriented design, it often appears as though the plants happened to arrange themselves just so. Planting is intermingled; the grasses sing in harmony with the blooms to create a garden with shifting character and charm. By combining native plants, with woodland textures, open areas, and steel and concrete detailing, his design becomes a feast for the eyes of textures and shapes.
While not everyone pursues a more natural approach to gardening, Oudolf positions natural elements as core to his design philosophy. With his mastery of colours, textures and planting, there’s something everyone can learn from his practice.
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