Plants, Stone, California Landscapes


Oudolf Leku

A bonus from my visit to Chillida Leku was that the entrance sports a newish planting by Piet Oudolf. It immediately caught my eye as the first interesting planting I had seen in Spain, and I was thinking, well well well, who did this, it looks like an Oudolf planting. And of course it was an Oudolf planting, his style is unmistakable at this point. The planting beds gave him a bit less space to work with than the gardens I saw in the Netherlands — Vlinderhof, Singer Laren, and Rotterdam — but it had that same loose meadowy feel, and it was far and away the best planting I saw in Spain.

I think bloom color is usually not his first consideration, but the pink in the Echinacia, Stachys (I think?) and Filapendula seem clearly chosen to match the pink granite sculptures.

It’s a nice compliment to the sculptures. He has now done about a half dozen plantings at museums — Chillida Leku is owned by Hauser and Wirth who previously hired him for Durslade –which makes it verge on a specialty of his. This planting isn’t really integrated with the sculptures the way his planting is at Singer Laren and it doesn’t really contrast with his non-museum ones, but I wonder if there is anyone else who has done as many museum plantings as Oudolf. I can think of landscape architects who designed a few museum gardens in their careers, and maybe there is an analogue with the Zen or Japanese-style gardens that have been added to museums over the years, but this number of ornamental plantings seems pretty unique.

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