Sunday, February 2, 2014

Piet Oudolf: Fall, Winter, Spring, Summer, Fall

This year, Grounded Design is celebrating the idea of contemporary naturalistic design, and its great diversity of expressions across the world. It is my contention that naturalistic planting design may be in its finest hour, with numerous new designers whose work represents a contemporary vision of planting in the Anthropocene. Last week, we looked at the work of Adam Woodruff, one the rising stars in American planting design. In the next few weeks, we will hear directly from many of the world's leading designers, hearing their own interpretations of the zeitgeist. As well as a few reviews of some of the newer naturalistic parks and gardens here in the U.S.

Of course, it is hard to pay homage to the idea of naturalistic planting design without giving credit to one of its finest practitioners. I've been accused many times of making this blog too Piet Oudolf-centric, perhaps accurately, but like many in the design and planting world, it is hard to overstate his influence and artistry. Which is why I'm thrilled that Thomas Piper, an award-winning nonfiction film maker that I've been corresponding with, is working on a feature of Piet Oudolf and his gardens. 

The great thing about capturing Oudolf's work on film is that cinematography can create the experience of being present in the gardens, a feat "impossible through any other medium," writes Piper in his proposal. 

Piet Oudolf documentary teaser from Thomas Piper on Vimeo.

What's really thrilling is that the film will capture Piet's process of designing his new work, including a major new garden for a contemporary art center in England, Hauser & Wirth Somerset as well as recent projects in New York, Chicago, Nantucket, Germany, Sweden, and Holland.

It is a moving teaser, as it speaks to the emotional aspect of Piet's work. Really looking forward to the full film.


  1. Excellent post Thomas. It warrants mentioning the project is not fully funded yet. Fundraising will be broken into two phases- production and editing. At this time, Piper needs to raise roughly $100,000 by spring (March/April). The Checkerboard Film Foundation is a 501(c)(3) non-profit institution. Please join me in supporting this important project.
    Contributions can be sent to:
    Checkerboard Film Foundation
    1 East 53rd St, 14th Floor
    New York, NY 10022
    (Please note in a cover letter or the check memo that your funds are for the Piet Oudolf project).

  2. I enjoyed this post and always like to see Piet's and Adam's work. I am in your camp and agree with your comments about landscape design. I am writing a book on using native plants in designed gardens for the University of Iowa Press. However I sense a bit of us against them in your blog. That is not the way to make progress.

    1. Hi Judy,

      Great to hear from you. I'm not sure I understand your comment. Who is the "us" and who is the "them" in your statement? When it comes to planting, I assure you: I am a pragmatist, not a crusader. When it comes to natives or ecological planting more broadly, there are very few black and whites. . . very little room for us and them . . .

      So I'm curious what you mean.

  3. I'll look forward to viewing the film. In the meantime, I'll send a contribution to the Checkerboard Film Foundation to help the project along.


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