Monday, May 28, 2012

That Certain Look

This weekend found me back at Northwind Perennial Farm in Burlington, Wisconsin.  It was exactly one year ago that I wrote a post on Roy Diblik's extensive gardens based on the philosophy of Piet Oudolf.

This year I was definitely after something other than a garden tour.  I was in search of a look, the look of a non-patterned garden design, a feeling of form and texture with surprises of color.

The gardens are very different than this same time last year when it was a true springtime garden.  I was so glad to see many plant varieties that were not in bloom last Memorial Day.

Geranium Magnificum in the foreground

The layering is extensive, plants packed closely but with enough room to flourish and the use of many types of grasses to always soften the effect.

There is a great deal of room to plant at Northwind but I am realizing that layering is not just for the smaller garden but for any garden that wishes to have continual seasonal interest.

A smaller draped conifer is wonderful along a pathway, wish I had room for one of these!

A large spreading conifer, striking yellow and mirrored in the pond below.

Color is repeated throughout using dissimilar plants.

The allium is Star of Persia.

Large twisted conifer with pink chives

Garden decor is incorporated so it peeks out of the garden.

The piano doesn't exactly peek out but it surely is a garden surprise!

Persicaria Polymorpha
I have this plant along my fence and it requires support because it does not have the full sun all around to give it structural strength.

Philomis was in full bloom and it made me think of the last time I tried to grow this plant.  I am now attempting it again with Philomis Russeliana the yellow variety.

Amsonia Northwind Select
(not on the market)

This is not an easy concept to understand and execute but I think I am finally getting it at least on a small scale.  It is not your normal garden design, three of this five of those and repeat across the landscape. 

Water is an important feature at Northwind.

I will be visiting Millennium Park in Chicago (July) which is one of Piet Oudolf's largest designs, can't wait to see this philosophy on a large scale!


Balisha said...

Beautiful gardens...I loved looking through your eyes.

CanadianGardenJoy said...

Eileen girl that is an amazing garden display .. they must have the taller grasses in waiting for the later part of the season .. I do love my taller ones for that oomph ! statement? LOL
I think I garden in that style .. I just plunk plants next to each other that I think will look interesting?
I can't wait to see that garden in July ... how is yours doing ?

Larry said...

A wonderful tour of Northwind Eileen... thanks for sharing! Larry

Karen said...

Eileen, thank you for the tour, we have never been to this garden but it is now on our must-see list.

Rosie@leavesnbloom said...

There are times that I wish I could start planting my garden all over again. I loved the colour schemes and the planting for this time of year.........I'm wondering what that same garden would look like later in the summer or does the emphasis then move to grasses at that stage?

Gatsbys Gardens said...

Hi Joy,

The taller grasses are hidden right now by the other plantings. Oudolf is known for his use of dramatic grasses. I will try to photograph this same garden seasonally this year.


Gatsbys Gardens said...


You must take a trip to see this garden. I think you will love it for how it uses sweeps of perennials and grasses along with trees and conifers.


Gatsbys Gardens said...

Hi Rosie,

There are oodles of perennials in this garden that have not begun to bloom as yet. I saw one of Oudolf's gardens last year at a large plant supplier and there is as much going on in the fall as in the summer, asters, seed heads, tall grasses with plumes, etc.


allan becker said...

Thank you for the delightful "master class" in garden design.


Hi Eileen, What a beautiful place. I love the swaths of color but of course my garden is too small for such grand schemes. There is so much to learn by observing other gardens. Thanks for taking us along.

Cottage Garden said...

I love this type of planting Eileen - swathes of colour and beautiful grasses ... sigh ... I tend to just plonk things in with no real thought of an overall scheme!

Gosh - was it really a year ago you last posted on Piet Oudolf !


joey said...

Thank you for the lovely tour, Eileen ... you are a pro!

Jennifer said...

Hi Eileen, I agree with you that this is not an easy kind of garden concept to pull-off. It looks straightforward, but the subtleties of this type of garden are actually very sophisticated. I really like the pink Philomis and have admired your yellow one in the past.

Gatsbys Gardens said...

Hi Grace,

I have a small garden also, but I think I can incorporate this philosophy so that plantings do not looks so planned and obviously more grasses.


Gatsbys Gardens said...


You have a property that would be wonderful for this type of plan. You already have many of the plantings that he recommends.


Gatsbys Gardens said...

Hi Jeanne,

This look is not haphazard but it gives the feeling of sereneness. There is a plan of color, structure and texture which takes a while to understand.


Gatsbys Gardens said...

You are correct Jennifer,

The concept looks easy but it is the most complicated garden plan I have ever looked at. I am a new learner in regard to this and certainly cannot incorporate this fully on my small property.