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Oudolph Field

September 28, 2016

Autumn is a great time to visit Hauser and Wirth in Bruton to see the magic of the landscaping in Oudolf Field a perennial meadow in Somerset. It was my third visit in twelve months and I was so inspired to see it at this time of year.

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It’s easy to be overwhelmed by the beauty of the planting and I had to quickly reign in my longing to recreate it at home. My analysis is that Piet Oudolf’s design perfectly fits the huge open space that it is set in with the gently rolling hills in the distance providing a perfectly scaled backdrop.  Shrubs are limited to the outer edges giving a sense of enclosure to the 26,000 herbaceous perennials that provide the patchwork of colour and form.imgp0986

Oudolf’s phenomenal plant knowledge is key to this design.  He knows the beauty that these plants will offer as each fades into Autumn.

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Height is achieved with grasses and herbaceous plants and a visit is an opportunity to identify a huge range of grasses in particular. These are much easier to appreciate in the flesh and you get a very clear sense of their beauty and form. His colour palette is both subtle and dramatic constantly drawing the eye.

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The paths are gravel and unobtrusive not to distract from the planting and are edged with simple metal strips.  This neat and elegant solution (albeit an expensive one) surrounds all the massive beds and uses a 10 cm strip of metal with I guess the same depth in the ground. The soil is very neatly held back from the paths and more gravel when needed can be added without spilling onto the beds.

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There is much to inspire and so many plant combinations that would work really well on a lesser scale.  In a smaller space you could give it a try with the help and expertise of Piet Oudolf and Noel Kingsbury in their book Planting: A New Perspective Publ: Timber Press.

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A completely blank canvas would also be a huge bonus so it’s probably too late to consider it here at home with established trees, hedges and shrubs in a narrow town garden surrounded by walls but if ever we moved…

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Borlotti beans are positively glowing in the mellow Autumn light on the allotment. I cropped enough to make a favourite recipe from the River Cafe which is roughly as follows:

For 2 Pod and cover and cook 150 g beans with a crushed clove of garlic and 4 sage leaves. Cook till soft then drain and add S and P. Make a dressing of 1 tbsp of balsamic vinegar and 2 tbsp of good olive oil and 1 tsp of Dijon mustard.  Mix the warm beans with the dressing and toss with rocket leaves.

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Another favourite River Cafe recipe for Purple French beans is to cook till tender then drain. Make a French dressing and stir in 1 tbsp of grated Parmesan- the beans and cheese work surprisingly well together.

Nasturtiums are still in flower both on the allotment and here in the garden so I picked a few.

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11 Comments leave one →
  1. September 28, 2016 1:28 pm

    I so want to visit this garden, I must plan a visit for next year. Thanks for sharing your impressions.

  2. September 28, 2016 3:37 pm

    Having visited the Oudolf Field in summer it’s great to see it still looking so good, especially the grasses. I do need to find an excuse to go back.

    • September 28, 2016 4:29 pm

      Yes it’s remarkable and inspiring on so many levels. Maybe I’ll go back in Winter and report back- I can tell from the plants it would look great with frost.

  3. September 28, 2016 6:16 pm

    What a great post. It’s an inspring place all round, I love the planting,especially in Autumn.y
    Your bean recipe sounds delicious.

    • September 29, 2016 8:46 am

      I decided to vary my bean recipes since I have a freezer full of the purple French. It was very good served with ham and the last of my spuds.

  4. September 29, 2016 5:15 am

    I love visiting a garden multiple times each year to watch a garden change as each new season arrives, lovely photo series.

    • September 29, 2016 8:47 am

      This garden is designed for four seasons so there’s inspiration on every visit -probably why I keep going back.

  5. October 5, 2016 11:29 pm

    How wonderful to be able to go back time and again and really see the intricacy of the planting. I love the chosen plants and the way that they’re grouped in all the gardens that he’s done – I haven’t been to Hauser and Wirth (yet!) but hope to go next year maybe. Thanks for the borlotti bean recipe, I was wondering what to do with mine! They look so vibrant at the moment that I’m determined to grow loads more next year.

    • October 6, 2016 4:22 am

      Yes it would be so worth trekking from London if you get the chance. Me too for next year and borlotti beans in quantity-so beautiful both in and out of the pods.

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