Dutchmen Piet Oudolf is a big name in contemporary gardening. He’s enjoyed high profile commissions such as the Olympic Park in London and Millennium Park in Chicago, to name but a few.
Why then, can you visit one of his most impressive and spectacular creations in sleepy, rural Somerset?
His Perennial Field can be found at Dursdale Farm, just outside the small town of Bruton in Somerset.
It’s part of a 115 acre site owned and managed by international art dealers Hauser and Wirth.
The story goes that the Wirth family moved to Bruton after sending their children to a local school there. They soon settled in and decided to buy a run-down local farm and create a public art gallery that would both showcase their work and their values, and create a public space that people could visit and enjoy.
They wanted somewhere that reflected their artistic beliefs and values, generated local work opportunities and would become a destination venue where people could enjoy a day out.
So, there’s a funky restaurant and bar, an art gallery, workshops and a shop.
Most impressive though must be the Oudolf perennial garden.
If you have in mind the chocolate box cottage garden look, then you might be disappointed.
No doubt Oudolf planned his garden meticulously, but what he’s created is a naturalistic meadow landscape that offers brilliant colours and contrasts, but somehow fits in with the natural rural setting.
He also chooses plants and grasses that offer contrast, movement, structure and shape throughout the year.
His signature idea is that flowers and plants aren’t just enjoyed when they are in flower. Rather, your interest and intrigue in them, is sustained throughout the year.
Oudolf himself has said “Even when plants decay they are beautiful … I love the way they change and everything you see in them”
Of course, the great paradox is that to create such an impressive natural garden must have required meticulous and careful planning.
But the garden leaves a big impression on you.
And unlike other gardens you visit in the summer months, you are left with a desire to return in the autumn, or even mid winter, to see what the garden looks like then.