Wednesday, April 13, 2011

A weekend in Hummelo

Piet Oudolf laying bricks to mark out a new perennial planting bed. Dragon back hedge in the background.
                  A weekend with Piet and Anja Oudolf. We need to discuss collaborating on another book, reflecting Piet’s increasingly sophisticated planting design. He has to a considerable extent broken away from the blocks of planting which has always so dominated the thinking of garden designers. So we spend a lot of time looking through plans groping for words to describe the different ways he mixes plants to get them sparking off each other, which is not easy as he is a very visual person and words and concepts don’t always match up. And photographs – by the end of Sunday we've looked at hundreds, and then on Monday morning I go through a big pile of his slides, looking for good (but unpublished) shots of plant combinations, and am rapidly reminded of how  it used to be looking at slides through a loupe on a lightbox, and now even harder now as my eyesight isn’t what it was. Hurray for digital technology. Piet takes vast numbers of pictures of his projects, at every stage, talking to the funders and politicians, earth-moving, laying out, planting.
New book out - Monacelli Press, a monograph of 25 of Oudolf projects, public and private, see my online bookshop.

Looks a bit of a desert, but it won't be for long. Anja watering a newly planted Calamagrostis in what was the old nursery area
                  An interesting weekend to be chez Oudolf, both the boys are there: Pieter who runs a business selling repro Delft tiles (Dutch made) and Hugo who lives in Ecuador, in his wife’s village running an eco-tourism and community ranching business. And to see the first planting in a big new space; Anja has decided to retire from the nursery business, so the old nursery area is a vast expanse of sandy soil. The next day saw some Calamagrostis ‘Karl Foerster’ going in and some young trees – Sorbus sargentii. Piet told me that the plan was to sow perennials in between some planted material, and develop a big prairie look. I look forward to it.
Mertensia virginica runs in my garden and the Oudolf's. In Hummelo it has spread amongst perennials in conditions of great competition pressure, even in the middle of a Panicum clump. Like a bulb this exquisite flower is summer dormant.
Ranunculus ficaria (Lesser Celendine) is also summer-dormant. I've never seen the point of weeding it out, I'm glad Piet agrees.
Viola canina has sown itself into some of the perennial borders.

A clipped Pyrus salicifolia outside the new office building.