Creative Mind: Piet Oudolf
The Dutch landscape designer created living works of art at New York's High Line, Serpentine Pavilion in London, and multiple Hauser & Wirth galleries
The billowing landscapes conceived by Dutch designer Piet Oudolf appear wild and untamed; however, they’re precisely composed Impressionist collections of salvia, aromatic aster, silver spike-grass, sedge, and other types of grasses and perennials. Originally inspired by English gardens, Oudolf changed course to break away from the style’s rigorous nature. “English gardening is a lot about decoration and about doing the right thing at the right time,” he says. “I wanted to free myself from that.”
His own gardens in Hummelo, Netherlands, serve as a laboratory for his New Perennial style of naturalistic planting, examples of which include the Lurie Garden in Chicago’s Millennium Park, the High Line in New York, London’s Serpentine Pavilion, and Hauser & Wirth’s Somerset and Menorca galleries, as well as its Chillida Leku museum in Spain. “I see gardens as ephemeral,” says Oudolf, who featured several of his most notable installations alongside their architectural drawings and color-coded freehand sketches in his new monograph, Piet Oudolf at Work (Phaidon). “Everything I do is a playful intermezzo with time, and what I like or what other people like will be different in 20 years. Gardens will change, and our idea of them will change. The idea of how a garden will look—the beauty and the aesthetics—is always based in the time in which we live.”
“Everything I do is a playful intermezzo with time, and what I like or what other people like will be different in 20 years”piet oudolf
Oudolf recently completed an elevated plot at the R48 Hotel and Garden in Tel Aviv, while Calder Gardens, an oasis celebrating the work of Alexander Calder in downtown Philadelphia, is scheduled to open in 2024.
A version of this article first appeared in print in our 2023 Spring Issue under the headline “Creative Minds.” Subscribe to the magazine.