Open Field

Open Field is a new meadow garden of 1.5 acres designed by Piet Oudolf and commissioned by Hauser and Wirth for their Somerset gallery. In conjunction with the opening of this garden, they are running an exhibition of his planting plans for various projects over the years, including this one.

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Open Field

by Dyffryn Fernant Garden

 

A visit to Hauser and Wirth for Piet Oudolf’s talk and opening of ‘Open Field’ on the 13th of September 2014.

Open Field is a new meadow garden of 1.5 acres designed by Piet Oudolf and commissioned by Hauser and Wirth for their Somerset gallery. In conjunction with the opening of this garden, they are running an exhibition of his planting plans for various projects over the years, including this one.

The garden itself is presented as a sculptural installation, unlike the sculptures in their galleries and grounds, this one is created from living material. Likewise in the exhibition his planting plans are presented as works of art in themselves.

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This is the first time I have been able to visit a Piet Oudolf garden, having studied his planting plans and seen representations of a lot of his gardens, I was keen to visit this new garden, and to hear him talk in person.

First impressions were of 1.5 acres of an open flat rectangle enclosed with a simple hawthorn hedge, there are no vertical features in the main planting, and it is entirely herbaceous, with the garden running east to west.

The curvy beds which mirror each other in shape either side of a central curved gravel walk, have two planting arrangements. The principal planting is in blocks of plants, with beds further into the garden planted in a matrix, which allows for more self seeding and intermingling than the block planting. 

At the building end of the garden, which is where you enter, there is a brimming pond, how I love water that just brims to the edge. This is backed by a matrix planted bed with damper subjects within it, and the overall impression of the whole garden in September is of muted blues and pinks, cream, greys and fine grasses. Although there are reddy- brown heleniums and other spots of colour in there.

On the main curvy gravel walkways, there are small round mounds of brilliant green grass. It is all designed to give interest throughout the year and to be cut down to ground level in February when the cycle starts again.

I was very interested in the way, on this flat ground, the beds are mounded up, so along with the curves and the mounds you are getting interesting shapes. This will no doubt come in to play strongly after the mowing in February,and certainly ‘lifts’ the garden from it’s very flat plane.

I had a feeling of being reminded of Le Jardin Plume but couldn’t quite put my finger on why, the openness yes, the flatness yes, and then I realised that these garden makers are first and foremost nurserymen, who have grown and experimented with plants, and their gardens have grown out of this.

I was puzzled by the complete lack of seating in the garden, until it became obvious that this is a meadow, in which you need to meander, viewing plants from all sides and angles. I would love to have been able to lie down on the grass, but as this was a bit like a first night at the opera, could not quite bring myself to do so!

I was able to thank Piet for the generous way in which he disseminates his planting plans for us all to take advantage of, and he told me that it is very important for him to share his work.

His compositions of plants make me think of composing music, adding and subtracting notes, themes and refrains, and the experience of walking around his garden is one that employs all the senses.

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Only by experiencing the garden, and this for me applies to all good gardens, can you enter into the other world that they are the creation of.

-Christina

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