Garden for Plant Lovers

At this dark time of year, with short days and dull light, Landscape Architect Sarah Bond writes about the joy of naturalistic planting (and good food!), inspired by a recent visit to the Oudolf Field in Bruton, Somerset.

This is my fourth visit to the Oudulf Field since it opened in 2014.  It is designed by the internationally-renowned landscape designer, Piet Oudolf, and to have one of his gardens on our doorstep is very exciting and a joy to visit at any time of year.

Piet Oudolf was commissioned by Hauser & Wirth to design the landscape scheme for Durslade Farm on the edge of Bruton, Somerset, and part of that scheme is the Oudolf Field, a large perennial meadow containing over 26,000 herbaceous plants.

It is a place that I visit to get inspired, fall in love with plants again and rack my brain to remember Latin plant names.  Luckily at Hauser and Wirth they sell a booklet of Oudolf’s planting plan which is a piece of artwork in itself and has a comprehensive list of plants that any plant enthusiast could not resist.

Oudolf’s style is contemporary but with a clear connection with the nature.  His main planting palette is a combination of perennials and grasses.  Just looking at his planting plan and visiting the Oudolf Field creates an incredible sense of creativity, fun and joy of plants.  It is as if he is painting a picture.

In contrast to a traditional English herbaceous border, where generally taller plants are located at the back with smaller plants at the front, Oudolf mixes it up creating a more naturalistic landscape.  This naturalistic form is juxtaposed with the choice of vibrant perennials and grasses that give this garden a contemporary feel.  The addition of circular grass mounds dotted within the main pathway to the ex-serpentine Radic Pavilion, which sits at the top of the field, conjurers up an image from a Sci-Fi movie.

To fully appreciate this garden, and the incredible skill of plantsman Oudolf, it is best to visit again and again in different seasons.  In the summer the garden is a startling multi-colour array of herbaceous plants whilst from autumn into winter the colour starts to blend with the surrounding natural landscape.  Perennials and grasses are left untouched so you can appreciate their sculptural forms and seed heads, particularly on a frosted day.

The Oudolf Field is not the only draw.  Galleries show a rolling programme of exhibitions by artists that Hauser & Wirth represent, including internationally-renowned artist Louis Bourgeois, and top it off there is an amazing and very popular bar and grill.  If you are into gardens, contemporary art and good food this is a special day out that won’t disappoint.

As a landscape architect I always leave this garden inspired and with renewed vigour to elevate plants to their rightful top spot in the schemes that I design.

Follow this link if you would like to know more about the Oudolf Field:

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