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Archive for September, 2019

Singer Laren

After Vlinderhof, I visited Piet Oudolf’s new planting for the Singer Laren Sculpture Garden. It’s a great space, wonderfully pleasant, everything you want in a garden. I didn’t particularly care about any of the individual sculptures — sculpture is always a bit hit and miss and, for me, the Laren collection is pretty much all miss — and after seeing the perfection of Vlinderhof’s planting, I found the plantings at Singer Laren a step down. At Vlinderhof virtually every plant was in perfect synch, all pulling together to make the best meadow planting I’ve ever seen; Singer Laren was interesting for the small ways it fell short of Vlinderhof’s perfection. But if I sound critical, that’s not right, I really liked it. It’s a great place, recommended to everyone. A coffee and a pastry in the sun at the Singer Laren garden… wonderful.

It’s fairly common to see a single sculpture set in an ornamental planting in a garden, but I’d never seen an entire museum collection set within plantings by someone of Oudolf’s skill and stature. On their own I wouldn’t have cared about the sculptures, but the plantings elevated them.

As at Vlinderhof, Oudolf gets a lot of mileage from his Echinacia.

At Vlinderhof, the ornamental grass is a perfect backdrop for Liatris. Here the Liatris looks good but not exceptional.

This garden underlines how important scale is to Oudolf’s planting style. The planting beds that are roughly 25′ x 25′ have the distinctive Piet Oudolf look that has become such a phenomenon. The smaller beds, despite using roughly the same plants and planting strategy, are nice but very ordinary.

But so many of the planting beds are big and beautiful. A wonderful garden.

Piet Oudolf’s Vlinderhof Garden

One of the first things I did on this bike trip was check out Piet Oudolf’s garden at Vlinderhof in Utrecht. I’ve been following Oudolf’s work through photographs and videos for years and I’d seen the underwhelming spring version of his High Line plantings, but this was the first proper Piet Oudolf planting I’d seen in person, and it blew me away. Almost every plant was in full bloom, every plant was in synch, every plant helped to make every other plant shine. It’s the best meadow planting I’ve ever seen.

I’d read about Vlinderhof in other blog posts throughout the years: RhoneStreetGardens part 1 and part 2, Federaltwist a year later, video of the garden by photographer Hans van Horssen, in summer and fall. My thanks to them for bringing to to my attention.

Amsterdam to Italy

I did another bicycle trip this summer, riding from Amsterdam to Italy. Fun times. I started in Dutch canal and windmill country, rode down through Belgium, bits of France, Luxembourg and Germany, then to Basel, Zurich, and Innsbruck, and then down through the Dolomites to just outside Venice. I went through 9 countries all told, though that includes just 20 minutes crossing Liechtenstein. I took lots of photos of gardens and stone along the way which I’ll be showing in the future. For now, these are my drawings from the trip.
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