Piet Oudolf

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Piet Oudolf
Born (1944-10-27) 27 October 1944 (age 78)
Known forGarden design
Notable work

Piet Oudolf (Dutch pronunciation: [ˈpeet' ˈʌudɔl(ə)f]; born 27 October 1944) is a Dutch garden designer, nurseryman and author. He is a leading figure of the "New Perennial" movement – his designs and plant compositions using bold drifts of herbaceous perennials and grasses which are chosen at least as much for their structure as for their flower color.

Design philosophy[edit]

Segment of planting design for Hauser & Wirth Somerset garden

Working primarily with perennials, Oudolf practices a naturalistic approach to gardening. Taking a cue from architectural design, Oudolf prioritizes the seasonal life cycle of a plant over decorative considerations like flower or colour. He focuses primarily on structural characteristics, such as leaf or seed pod shape, present before and after a plant has flowered.[1][2][3] He explains: "A garden is exciting for me when it looks good through the year, not just at one particular time. I want to go outside and for it to be interested in all weather, in early spring and late autumn."[4]

The stability of perennials after planting are key to Oudolf's designs, especially the use of long-lived clump-forming species. The result are gardens that persist in their planned state years after being planted, with little deviation from Oudolf's hand drawn maps.[5][6]

Oudolf's overall approach to planting has evolved since the 1980s when he and his wife Anja opened their nursery, at Hummelo, in Gelderland. His early work with perennials consisted of block-type groupings based on structure and texture. More recently Oudolf's gardens has experimented with a variety of approaches, which, broadly speaking, are more naturalistic, often using blends of species. The change in style has been described as a shift from a painter's perspective to one informed by ecology. It was first introduced into Oudolf's public work in 2004 as part of the Lurie Garden in Chicago. The approach can be seen in the New York High Line project. [6][7]


Oudolf and Gustafson's work in Chicago (Lurie Garden)
Parts of Kurpark Bad Driburg, Germany

His own garden at Hummelo, near Arnhem in the Netherlands, was established in 1982. It has gone through many changes, which reflect Oudolf's constantly developing designs.[14] Initially it was designed with a series of yew (Taxus baccata) hedges and blocks, reflecting Oudolf's architectural style which owed much to Mien Ruys, the designer who dominated Dutch garden design in the post-war period.[citation needed]

The High Line, New York City
(20th Street, looking downtown)

High Line (2006)[edit]

Oudolf's work on the High Line relied heavily on plants native to the region. A matrix of grasses with perennials grouped throughout was used to convey how the plants grow and intermingle in the wild.[6][15]

Published works[edit]

  • Gardening With Grasses (1998) with Michael King and Beth Chatto
  • Designing With Plants (1999) with Noel Kingsbury
  • Dream Plants for the Natural Garden (2000) with Henk Gerritsen – originally published in the Netherlands under the title Méér Droomplanten (1999)
  • Planting the Natural Garden (2003) with Henk Gerritsen, revised (2019) with Noel Kingsbury – originally published in the Netherlands under the title Droomplanten (1992)
  • Planting Design: Gardens in Time and Space (2005) with Noel Kingsbury
  • Landscapes in Landscapes (2011) with Noel Kingsbury
  • Planting: A New Perspective (2013) with Noel Kingsbury[16]
  • Hummelo: A Journey Through a Plantsman's Life (2015) with Noel Kingsbury, revised (2021)
  • Planting the Oudolf Gardens at Hauser & Wirth Somerset (2020) by Rory Dusoir with forward by Piet Oudolf


Five Seasons: The Gardens of Piet Oudolf (2017) is a documentary directed by Thomas Piper following gardens designed by Piet Oudolf through five seasons.[17][18]


See also[edit]


  1. ^ Patel, Riya (23 February 2015). "Piet Oufolf". Icon. Retrieved 22 May 2016.
  2. ^ Sorin, Fran (20 September 2011). "Piet Oudolf – Rhythms of Nature: Where Ecology Meets Design". ecology.com. Ecology Today. Archived from the original on 26 January 2016. Retrieved 22 May 2016.
  3. ^ "Naturalized perennial and bulb combinations offer elegant alternatives". American Nurseryman. 206 (1): 34. July 2007. Oudolf likes to use the architecture, i.e. size, shape, color and texture, of plants to build the bones of a garden. He often opts for plants with interesting berries or seedpods, believing that plants should look good in more than one season, which is why a classic Oudolf garden looks as interesting in the winter as it does in the summer.
  4. ^ "Piet Oudolf at home in the garden". The English Garden. 3 February 2015. Retrieved 22 May 2016.
  5. ^ Pearson, Dan (7 April 2013). "Growing Wild". The Observer. Retrieved 24 May 2016.
  6. ^ a b c Stuart-Smith, Tom (4 May 2013). "Dutch master: the garden design genius of Piet Oudolf". The Telegraph. Retrieved 23 May 2016.
  7. ^ Kingsbury, Noel. "Piet Oudolf's Next Wave". gardendesign.com. Garden Design Magazine. Retrieved 23 May 2016.
  8. ^ Peppered. "'The making of' de Singer Oudolf beeldentuin | Singer Laren". www.singerlaren.nl (in Dutch). Retrieved 13 June 2018.
  9. ^ "About the Vlinderhof". vlinderhof.com. Archived from the original on 8 June 2016. Retrieved 23 May 2016.
  10. ^ "Garden". Hauser & Wirth Somerset. Retrieved 23 May 2016.
  11. ^ Fortnam, Joanna (29 June 2011). "Piet Oudolf's garden at the Serpentine Gallery pavilion". The Telegraph. Retrieved 24 May 2016.
  12. ^ "Entry Garden Walk". Toronto Botanical Garden. Retrieved 23 May 2016.
  13. ^ Kingsbury, N. (2017, October). Trentham stands triumphant. RHS The Garden, 142(10), 30–37.
  14. ^ Griffiths, John (27 September 2021), "Richard Danes, Cassell's Illustrated History of the Boer War (London: Cassell, 1902), pp. 1–24.", Empire and Popular Culture, London: Routledge, pp. 157–175, ISBN 978-1-351-02482-2, retrieved 13 January 2023
  15. ^ Kingsbury, Noel (10 April 2013). "A Wilder Way". New York Times. T Magazine. Retrieved 23 May 2016.
  16. ^ Planting: A New Perspective, Timber Press. Retrieved 24 July 2016.
  17. ^ "Five Seasons: The Gardens of Piet Oudolf review – art of a Dutch master". Guardian News and Media. Retrieved 15 September 2019.
  18. ^ "Five Seasons: The Gardens of Piet Oudolf". IMDB. Retrieved 15 September 2019.
  19. ^ "Twenty-Second Annual Awards for Excellence in Design, July 12, 2004". NYC. NYC Design. Retrieved 7 June 2016.
  20. ^ a b Bakker, Michael (29 June 2013). "Piet Oudolf: New Perennials Legend". tuinenstruinen.org. Retrieved 7 June 2016.

External links[edit]