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Allan designs and plants flowering gardens in Montreal, Zone 5 [USDA Zone 4] .

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A Dutch-Influenced Garden: The Millennium at Pensthorpe by Piet Oudolf

Readers who have seen the book review of Designing with Plants, posted here on July 12, 2010, may already know that Piet Oudolf is one of my favorite garden designers. Yet, it is unlikely that I will ever have a landscape-as-canvas vast enough to emulate his work. What he has created can never be duplicated in the urban or suburban flower beds of my clients’ gardens. Oudolf’s work requires parklands, meadows or fields. Fortunately, there are plenty of open spaces around the world, managed or owned by visionaries, who have already invited Mr. Oudolf, a native of the Netherlands, to work his magic on their land.

Just the other day, Hermes, who blogs at Gardens of a Golden Afternoon, came across a photo essay of Dutch-influenced gardens; some designed by Oudolf, others inspired by his style. This collection of images was originally posted at the marvelous website of the Telegraph, an online version of The London Daily Telegraph, a British newspaper that supports the garden designs industry in a significant manner. From that collection, I have selected the above photograph, by Alamy, to share with my readers. It is known as the Millennium Garden, spans one acre, and is one of three gardens located in Pensthorpe, a wildlife and nature preserve in Norfolk, England. The parkland is open to the public and sells plants of all flowers that grow there. Orders are also taken for sold out varieties which are shipped to visitors when they become available.

After discovering the pictures posted by Hermes, I stumbled upon additiional images of this same garden. The photos below, taken by Andrew Lawson, have been used to illustrate an article of the Telegraph and the official site of Readers may click on any of the images on this page to link to the accredited sources.


The planting scheme of the Millennium Garden is predominantly maroon, purple and russet. Plants used include Echinacea, Monarda, Astrantia, Bronze Fennel, Astilbe, Aster and Vernonia; intermingled with a variety of golden grasses such as Deschampsia. In all, about 100 different species of perennials and over 20 types of grasses have been used. The plants are set off by tracts of open water, and explored by winding paths.

Horticultural travelers to the UK now get “more bang for their buck”. In addition to visiting the traditional English gardens, that are challenging to re create in North America, they can also study English based but Dutch-influenced gardens, planted with flowers and grasses more suitable for our climate.

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Reader Comments (6)

Your photos are outstanding.. thanks for sharing the beauty of what you love..

October 6, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterDiane Mumm

Great post! I agree completely. Also, thank you for visiting my blog and for your nice comment.

October 7, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterAnne

I am a huge fan of Piet Oudolf. I love the sweeping drifts in the images you show.

October 7, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterJennifer

Thanks for this very beautiful and spectacular post. Really, I appreciate yours fabulous article. I also appreciate to you for your well planned gardens.

October 11, 2010 | Unregistered Commentergarden design sydney

I LOVE these inspirational gardens. I'm a great fan of ideas like Piet Oudolf's. Like softly brushed textures painted on the earth. They always seem so fresh and uncontrived.

October 12, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterIlona

Came across your post latterly - I share your passion for the artistry of Piet Oudolf and have traveled to Hummelo to see his garden with my own eyes. And I've had the opportunity to meet him twice and hear firsthand his way of thinking.

A couple of points on your post: he would likely never describe one of his gardens in terms of a colour-scheme. That's far from the top of his list in terms of priorities -- the bloom is just one part of the life-cycle and he's not overly invested in colour.

Moreover, his intention through his books is to inspire gardeners of all stripes to experiment with his ideas and apply them to their own contexts -- whether that's parkland or a small urban plot. It's not just about the grand scale.

I know this because he told me so. And that is his hope – to send that message.

It certainly resonates with me.

November 15, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterTony Spencer

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