Planting the Oudolf Gardens, book

Planting the Oudolf Gardens at Hauser and Wirth Somerset, book review

Garden writer Annie Gatti reviews Rory Dusoir's book on Piet Oudolf’s gardens at Hauser and Wirth Somerset

Planting the Oudolf Gardens at Hauser and Wirth Somerset
By Rory Dusoir
Filbert Press
£30
ISBN 978-1999734534

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Dutch landscape designer Piet Oudolf was given free rein to create the gardens at the farm buildings that have been transformed into an international gallery and arts centre near Bruton in Somerset. His designs start at the entrance with productive beds and a grasses border. In the awkwardly shaped courtyard between galleries is a shady cloister garden, a lesson in restraint and textures. At the back of the buildings is a 1.5-acre former field, where Oudolf celebrates the beauty of herbaceous plants in all stages of growth with a combination of meadow-like planting, blocks of perennials and tall, foliage-rich plants.

Piet Oudolf Garden - Hauser & Wirth, Bruton, Somerset (September 2014)

It is this field that is the main focus of this book, which sets Oudolf’s particular style of naturalistic planting in context and deftly and engagingly describes the design process, the selection of plants, the laying out and planting, and the ongoing maintenance and editing required by head gardener Mark Dumbleton.

Author Rory Dusoir carries the reader through each season, with explanations of the changes in effects from this highly complex orchestration of plants that must hold visitors’ interest throughout the year. With just three evergreen grasses and no clipped forms – the only trees here have uncompromisingly stark outlines – the garden relies on the tones, textures and forms of the herbaceous planting to create winter interest.

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It is thanks to Jason Ingram’s arresting images that readers can visualise just how beautiful these combinations of seedheads and grasses can be, planted en masse and rimed in frost or glistening in the sun. The Plant Directory section, which also features Ingram’s photographs, will entice gardeners to try at least some of these hard-working plants in their own spaces.