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

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Entries in Piet Oudolf (6)

Sunday
Feb012015

The Flower Garden Style of Piet Oudolf

Image copyrighted by Scott Weber. Used with permission

Scott Weber, of Portland, Oregon, has been designing and planting flowerbeds around his property for several years. Above and below are two of the many stunning photos he shares with readers on his blog Rhone Street Gardens. The images of his mini meadow-like plantings always take my breath away no matter how frequently he posts. Scott once mentioned that Piet Oudolf inspires the spirit and design of his garden.

Image copyrighted by Scott Weber. Used with permission.

For over one hundred years, the English flower garden remained the championed design for colorful gardens in the Western world and I confess that it remains my personal favorite to this day.

Nevertheless, by the time the twentieth century began to overlap with the twenty- first, along came Dutch garden designer Piet Oudolf to nudge that traditional style out of its spotlight. Today, when I combine some of his design elements into my English-style projects, the results are quite moving.

Many books and articles have been written about this extraordinarily talented garden designer and I expect that ongoing and well deserved worldwide tributes will continue for some time to come.

Garden design by Piet Oudolf. http://www.pensthorpe.com/norfolk-gardens/ Click on image to visit site.

Piet Oudolf has succeeded in replaced the traditional perennial garden with landscapes inspired by the chaos of wildflowers, the assorted textures of foliage and the ethereal movement of grassy meadows. Yet, there is nothing chaotic or wild about his gardens, even if he does include native perennials in his layouts. In fact, his unique gardens are the results of meticulous, intricately designed planting schemes which, when repeated over vast swaths of land, create mesmerizing rivers of lush plant compositions.

His strategically arranged garden blueprints are realized primarily with robust, broad and small leaved perennials, bulbs, and ornamental grasses - all placed into recurring matrices to create a blissful flow of colors, textures, flower shapes and plant forms. Tall species, as well, are incorporated into some of his flowerbeds so that visitors can feel enveloped as they walk under and through his compositions.

These design elements also include the structural skeletons and seed heads of plants that provide visual interest when gardens are usually dormant and bare in winter. In Mr. Oudolf's gardens, eye-catching details attract and engage visitors all year round.

The High Line, New York City, gardens by Piet Oudolf.

Some of Piet Oudolf’s works are located in private gardens and privately owned parks open to the public. However, his best-known and powerful creations are situated in the public spaces of large cities. These urban projects create stirs of excitement when they first open and leave an enormous positive impression on the public. The result is that he has become an iconic figure in the garden design community.

Salvia beds designed by Piet Oudolf at Lurie Gardens, Chicago

One finds these urban oases in some of the largest and most densely populated areas. Here, juxtaposed among concrete, steel and asphalt, are wild meadow-inspired flower gardens whose soft natural and seemingly random appearances contrast dramatically with the disciplined, sleek and hard surfaces of the city structures that surround. They serve as a therapeutic refuge from the stress of daily life.

Lurie Gardens, Chicago.

As a highly respected designer and mentor, he continues to influence the work of prominent landscape designers on both sides of the Atlantic and his philosophy inspires home gardeners, some of whom live in climatically challenged areas where native plants and grasses work better than other perennials, to create dramatic yet beautiful traffic-stopping gardens.

Oudolf’s designs are synergistic; the compositions are more sublime than the appearance of any one of his chosen plants when grown alone. In his gardens, we experience the exquisite beauty of nature that can transport us from demanding urban existence to a destination overflowing with spirituality and hope.

Admire twenty six completed garden projects by Piet Oudolf at his website http://oudolf.com/

Watch a video of his work for New York Botanical Gardens  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=75C6xFCSu-A

Saturday
Nov192011

The Gardens on "The High Line" and the Power of Nature.

Last week, eminent American journalist, Charlie Rose, welcomed a group of dedicated New Yorkers to his round table, for his nightly PBS televised broadcast. The interview coincided with the publication of a book celebrating New York City’s latest and second most popular tourist attraction, The High Line, a park in the sky.

thehighline.orgThe High Line was an abandoned elevated railway line that still runs through three different New York City neighborhoods. Many years ago, it carried freight trains to and from the meat-packing district, an industrial zone of Manhattan.

thehighline.orgWhen it ceased its usefulness, the rail service was abandoned. During the many years of neglect, nature moved in and, unknown to most Manhattan residents, created a ribbon-field of wild flowers that smothered the tracks and rail beds.

The original wild growth, http://www.thehighline.orgVery stiff opposition arose when there was talk of demolishing the elevation in order to rejuvenate the surrounding commercial properties. On one side were the real estate developers who wanted it gone in order to enhance the monetary value of the adjacent, deteriorated neighborhoods.

The wildflowers they discovered, http://www.thehighline.orgOn the other side was a group of a few conservationists who, having seen the awesomeness that nature and the wild flowers had visited upon the elevation, wanted the High Line preserved as a public park. In the end, the conservationists prevailed.

The new gardens, thehighline.orgOnce considered an eyesore, the High Line cut through derelict industrial slums. Now, it has been transformed into an idyllic park that seems to float, thirty feet above ground, for a distance of a mile and a half. This urban redesign has also spawned cultural centers nearby as well as several world-class architectural projects. The beauty of the adjacent new buildings and the almost magical atmosphere of the park have enriched the quality of life for urban residents of New York City.

The new gardens, thehighline.orgMost of the publicity about this park, emanating from the world of horticulture, has understandably focused upon the genius of Piet Oudolf. Unquestionably, the four-season, wildflower meadow plantings he designated for the High Line contribute significantly to its successful transformation and its popularity.

thehighline.orgHow odd that very little has been reported about the benevolent intervention of the visionary Diane Von Furstenburg and her husband, Barry Diller, whose philanthropic foundation underwrote the project for the sum of twenty five million dollars. Nor have we heard much about Amanda Burden, chair of the New York City Planning Commission, whose strategic and wise negotiations with intransigent property developers helped turn the project from an ideal dream of a few into a reality that benefits many.

thehighline.orgHowever, most of the honor must go to ordinary citizens, Joshua David and Robert Hammond, whose passion for the preservation of this natural anomaly - that each had quietly discovered on his own - was the impetus to start the project. Collectively, these four individuals unwittingly gave new meaning to the concepts of urban renewal and urban design.

thehighline.orgWho would have thought that a handful of urbane residents, in one of the most densely populated, industrialized cities in our universe, would tackle a project wedded to the power of nature? In the end, the group known as The Friends of The High Line created one of the great horticultural destinations of the world. This socially vibrant public space, fully wheel chair accessible, has already attracted over seven million visitors in less than a few years.

thehighline.orgThe photos used here to illustrate the story were taken directly from the publicity for this tourist attraction. For readers who would like to see additional images of this world wonder, The Friends of the High Line, have posted hundreds of © photos of the project on their website at: - http://www.thehighline.org/galleries/images

Readers can also learn more about an online Google virtual tour of the High Line by linking to: -  www.thehighline.org/blog/2011/11/02/take-a-stroll-on-the-high-line-with-google-street-view-0

                                            

Sunday
Mar062011

Transparent Perennials in the Flower Garden

http://www.shootgardening.co.uk/article/future-nature-by-adrian-hallam-chris-arrowsmith-nigel-dunnettGarden designers use plant forms the way a painter used brushstrokes. In their book, Designing with Plants, by Piet Oudolf with Noel Kingsbury, six forms that are basic to flower compositions are identified. One of them is called screens and curtains. This double concept refers to the transparency of some plants whose form is mostly air. Unlike others that have a solid shape, transparent plants have an open network of either stems or very narrow flower spikes. These open spaces, also known in the study of design as negative spaces, allow one to look through the plant to admire flowers growing behind. According to Mr. Oudolf, such plants create ….effective combinations of color and form as well as an atmosphere of mystery and romance. In their book, the authors suggests eight such plants but I have found two more that work well in small gardens.

The two perennial that belong in this category are Dianthus carthusianorum and Allium schoenoprasum, two underused, and hard to find plant. These flowers are among my favorites because of the intensity of their pink color. Before discovering the concept of transparency I had difficulty combining these plants with other perennials. Now, I understand that they must be used as atmosphere, as open clouds, to subtly punctuate the garden design.

While engaged in online research for a previous blog on the RHS Chelsea Flower Show, I came across the above photo that imperfectly demonstrates how these two perennials may be used as screens to enchant the plants growing behind. It’s not the most effective example, but it is the best that I have found to date.

In  pre World War Two movies, leading ladies would sometimes wear a hat, with a net veil that screened their face. The net created a feeling of mystery and transformed female screen actors into more fascinating characters. Transparent perennials serve the same purpose in the garden. The beauty of other plants is enhanced when they are veiled with curtain plants. According to Mr. Oudolf, the trick for successfully using a transparent plant is to give the illusion that it is planted everywhere, when in fact it is not. Over planting it adversely affects the overall composition.

Tuesday
Nov232010

A Dissenting Voice From Cyberspace about Piet Oudolf

Piet Oudolf's garden from The Battery Conservancy, thebattery.orgAn 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….. 

Piet Oudolf, The Battery ConservancyI 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?  

Hummelo, Piet Oudolf Garden: Grass Days, copywrited by Tony Spencer

 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.

Steeple at Kawartha, copywrited by Tony SpencerReceiving 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.

                                       

 

Wednesday
Oct062010

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.

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/gardening/gardeningpicturegalleries/8030687/Ten-of-the-best-Dutch-influenced-gardens.html?image=7

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 Pensthorpe.com. Readers may click on any of the images on this page to link to the accredited sources.

                                                     http://www.telegraph.co.uk/gardening/gardenstovisit/3321501/A-glimpse-of-the-future.html

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.

http://www.pensthorpe.com/

http://www.pensthorpe.com/

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.