“An Afternoon” with Piet Oudolf

Our APDW studio doesn’t always go to the movies together, but when we do we see fantastic films about gorgeous gardens, amazing artists and thoughtful documentaries. Last week we were lucky to attend a screening of Five Seasons: The Garden of Piet Oudolf, directed by Thomas Piper. The film captures the intentional seasonal beauty of Piet Oudolf’s gardens as works of art. Oudolf’s l-o-n-g years of experience with plants led him to discover neglected plants based on their structure and distinct behavior.


In Piet’s  garden making we marvel at the combinations of native and exotic species to create an idealized nature that continues to amaze us. The film tells of how Piet provides a stage where every moment of the garden can be appreciated; along with seasonal cycles, the unique architectural and emotional moments of each plant individually as well as collectively. The idea of a garden as “place” that extends through time, underscores much of the story. The film encourages us to be patient…don’t rip up the beds just because some leaves have wilted or the flowers have lost their vividness.  You will never enjoy the structural beauty of the stalks or the sublime sculpture of the seed heads.


After the film, on our walk back to the office, we launched into conversation of how our projects are gardens, and what does that mean to our approach? We discussed beauty and performance. We spoke of how as landscape architects and designers, we have the authority to take plants as an incredibly sharp design tool, and the potential of film in capturing the essence of a garden compared to still images. As an office, we have claimed the privilege and the challenge to explore, expose, and be inspired by nature’s works. We hope you will too.

Oudolf-Design-Hause-and-Wirth_sizedOudolf’s own garden at Hummelo, Netherlands. This snap shot here is certainly beautiful; however, unlike the film, still images cannot evolve or tell us a story beyond the canvas. In that sense, most of the firms today are adapting 3D rendering programs to better communicate our visions and ideas to the world.

IMG_5974_sizedA fabulous group of movie goers.