Sunday, April 22, 2012

A Cool Morning Trip With Piet Oudolf

It is probably my fifth time going through Piet Oudolf's book Designing With Plants, and each time I find the philosophy overwhelming but I am determined to master it.  I read it all the way up to Wisconsin and even fielded questions from my husband on what it meant to have a plan that didn't look like a plan.

I have tried Dianthus Firewitch at my home with no luck.  It does just great in Wisconsin, don't know why because the temps are not that different but the air sure is, very little pollution and cooler evenings.

Roy Diblik who is part owner of Northwind Perennial Farm has worked with Piet Oudolf on the Lurie Gardens in Chicago's Millennium Park.  Northwind is located in Burlington, Wisconsin which is very close to my Wisconsin home.  I have frequented Northwind many times over the years and have said before that it is the birthplace of Panicum Northwind grass, one of my favorites.  Roy does not have a degree in horticulture and grew up on a small lot in Berwyn, Illinois but he has become one of the most influential plantsman in recent history. 

Nepeta Walker's Low does great up here no splitting in the middle like mine back home in the alley garden.

I cut down Coreopsis Zagreb a few inches so that it will spread and become more bush like, more blooms.

One of the questions my husband asked was could I duplicate a Piet Oudolf garden in my small space.  I had to think about this and stated that I could definitely use his philosophy regarding repeating plants in color, form, structure and mood rather than duplicating the same plants throughout the garden. 

He did a much smaller garden at Midwest Groundcovers in St. Charles, Illinois (where I had a writers workshop in the fall) and it was very impressive.

This pathway leads up to the front door with boxwood, dianthus and daylilies.

The Knockout roses had gone crazy because we didn't come up in time to cut them back for the season.  With the unusually warm weather they had grown to five feet tall in every which way.  I had to make the hard decision to cut them back severely and possibly miss a first flush of flowers.  I did it and fertilized!

The Hidcote Lavender was very overgrown and I usually cut it back to new growth in early spring.  However, with my late arrival this year or should I say early spring this did not get accomplished.  Again, I decided to do it now!

Sedum Autumn Joy has taken over Salvia May Night, will need to move this.

Sedum Vera Jameson does great but there is one along this path that I have replaced twice, must find out what it going on in the soil.

Shasta Daisy Snowcap

This is an example of volcano mulching done by the landscaping company that takes care of the grounds.  The maple tree is stunted so there may also be a problem with the burlap and twine underneath the soil.  The University of Illinois recommends that the burlap be cut away along with the twine when a tree or shrub is planted.  Many times these products do not decompose as we are told by nurseries and landscaping companies.

Echinacea Magnus and White Swan do well in this climate.

All of the plants at this Wisconsin home require minimal amounts of water because we are not always there to take care of them.  Even the Knockout roses survive under these conditions.  I used to put in some annuals but have given up on this as they require more care than the perennials.

I won't be doing too much Piet Oudolf up north but I have incorporated some of his recommendations in regard to preferred perennials.  However, back home, I will work more with his philosophy rather than the planned garden look.