In late June I traveled back to Europe for what turned out to be one of the most inspiring experiences of my professional career. My trip centered around a Gardens Illustrated tour of the Northern Dutch Provinces, lead by Noel Kingsbury and his dynamic wife, Jo Eliot.
The tour began with a day-long planting design workshop at Piet & Anja Oudolf’s home and private garden in Hummelo. About twenty-five designers and avid gardeners from around the world attended the workshop (the first of its kind). We traveled on together for the next six days where we explored gardens and talked plants. It was quite special, connecting with people who share a passion for naturalism in planting design, in a part of the world where the style was perfected.
I arrived a couple of days early to take in Hermannshof, a botanical garden in nearby Weinheim, Germany and to have a day in the Oudolf’s garden without distraction. The two photos sets below document the pre-tour experience.
Hermannshof is a place to see successful examples of new directions in planting design, especially in naturalistic planting style. The plant combinations are inspired by plant societies in nature.
Cassian Schmidt leads the Hermannshof’s team with the following objectives: (1) investigating the competitive relationships between plants with different growth and site conditions, (2) design of plant combinations that are of high aesthetic appeal because of harmony and contrast of colors and shapes, (3) the establishment of permanent plantings with a low maintenance and a long-lasting appeal.
The Oudolf’s garden never disappoints! This visit was extra special though. I had not experienced the garden in summer, only fall. The light was nearly perfect. Grasses, like Deschampsia, Sporobolus and Panicum give the fall garden a specific ethereal feeling. In summer, however, before the grasses bloom or are at an early stage of bloom, the underlying perennial structure is more evident. I spent close to 8-hours documenting this sophisticated tapestry of intermingled plants. Piet’s work is living art!
Piet Oudolf & Noel Kingsbury’s new book is Planting: A New Perspective and speaks to the art of intermingling plants.
My next post in this series will include photos from the Gardens Illustrated tour.
Adam Woodruff (www.adamwoodruff.com)
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