Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Piet Oudolf's Favourite Perennials

Another one of my favourite stops while visiting the Netherlands, was the garden and nursery of Piet Oudolf. He had this unforgettable, high and multi-layered hedge at the front of his property behind which was his main garden. In the picture below, he is moving a clump of Monarda (Bee Balm).

He has since become a renowned garden designer with many projects, both public and private, in Europe and North America. You can see some of his very cool work and photography on Flickr and on his website.

Virginia Small recently listed his favourite perennials here. It is tellingly divided into three groups: plants the provide structure, produce attractive seed heads, and maintain a distinct winter shape. Ultimately, the goal is to provide an abundance of multi-season interest.

I find a few things however, interesting to note in this list. Firstly, most are relatively tall plants -- you will not find any "cute" Campanula carpatica or Dianthus here. Second, there is mix of both native and non-native species. And finally, the list appears to be missing the most popular genera, specifically Geranium, Heuchera and Hosta. I would certainly love to share a pint with this great artist to discuss this last point!

Well, here's to dirt under your nails -- I hear spring has sprung in certain parts of the continent.

Mark, the coolplantsguy


Kaveh said...

I mentioned this at GW but figured I would mention it here too. Geraniums, Heuchera, and Hosta just don't really fit in well with his style of gardening.

His gardens are always large sweeping meadow type plantings in full sun.

coolplantsguy said...

Right, but why? Why does he prefer "large, sweeping meadow-type plantings"? I would suggest there is possibly something he doesn't like about those three popular genera. If so, what is it?

M said...

Who cares if he likes Geraniums, Heuchera or Hostas? Others beg to differ.

coolplantsguy said...

I have no problems with a different opinion, and I'm not suggesting that one is right or wrong.

However, I believe we should consider the reasons why a designer is successful, and why he/she uses, or does not use, certain plants. This is especially true, IMO, for those of us (including myself) with little or no true design expertise.

Personally, I would be at a loss without my collection of Geranium, Heuchera, and Hosta. ;)

NellJean said...

Do those perennials thrive in the Netherlands? They are not suitable for my garden in the hot and humid Southern USA.