An email arrived recently from a reader who disagreed with an opinion I posted on my blog, about Piet Oudolf’s Millennium Garden. [A Dutch-Influenced Garden, October 6, 2010] After studying many of Oudolf’s designs in books and magazines, I had come to the conclusion that his style of planting, in matrices of drifts, was too complex for small domestic gardens: I thought his concept would work best in large parkland settings.
Reader Tony Spencer took issue with my opinion. On two occasions he travelled to Hummelo, in The Netherlands to meet Mr. Oudolf. There he learned that this genius garden designer hoped that the public would use his ideas for private home gardens as well.
…..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 must confess that even though I find the Oudolf style daunting to adopt, I have already started experimenting with some of his ideas and have noticed many other gardeners doing the same. Although I do not have opportunities to plant repeating drifts of perennials, I do select some of his favorite plants, leave the dead heads of my perennials uncut, try not to harvest my garden until winter is over, and insert ornamental grasses among perennials.
Mr. Spencer took issue with another aspect of my blog. In that same posting, I drew attention to the color scheme of the Millennium Garden. Mr. Spencer believes that focusing on that aspect is a misunderstanding of the designer intentions. He reported that Oudolf
…was not overly invested in color and…… would never describe any of his gardens in terms of a color scheme.
I find that very fascinating because the British press gives a lot of attention to the colors of his designated flowers. Have I stumbled upon a spawned result of his work that was not anticipated?
After reading his comments, I was curious to know more about Mr. Spencer and took the liberty of asking him some questions. I learned that he too is very talented. During his visits to The Netherlands, he extensively photographed Oudolf’s garden at Hummelo and was inspired to emulate it at his summer home in Kawartha, Ontario. The photos that I have posted here attest to Mr. Spencer's skills both as a photographer and garden designer. His style of flower composition is close to my heart and I hope that, in the future, we will be able to get a better glimpse of his accomplishments both at Hummelo and Kawartha.
Receiving his illuminating comments is further proof that cyberspace is not anonymous. The internet has turned out to be a technological marvel that allows garden writers to encounter interesting colleagues who generate engaging dialogue. That is one of the many things that make garden blogging so meaningful.