For years, superstar landscape architect Piet Oudolf experimented at home, growing and selling unusual plants on the property next to his farmhouse in the Netherlands. Then, in 2010 the planting designer of New York City's High Line park (James Corner Field Operations is the project lead, with Diller Scofidio + Renfro) closed the doors of his 6,000-square-foot nursery and started to experiment. The result? A garden of perennials and grasses that looks especially good in the autumn. Here's how to recreate the look:
Above: The former nursery—visible from both the farmhouse and from Oudolf's office building, was sited on loamy, sandy soil. He allowed it to go "wild" with a mix of hardy perennials, wind-resistant grasses, and wildflowers sown from seed. Photograph by Marco de Boer via Flickr.
Above: Oudolf punctuates naturalistic landscapes with tightly pruned shrubs and trees; next to his office building, he planted—and shaped into a topiary—a weeping silver pear tree (Pyrus salicifolia 'Pendula'). Photograph via Garden Design.
Above: Oudolf experiments with the colors and textures of different grasses, planting them in large, feathery swaths in the landscape and using them as a foil for such brightly colored plants as giant alliums. Photograph by Paolo Tasini via Flickr.
Above: One of Oudolf's favorite grasses is Karl Foerster Feather Reed Grass (Calamagrostis x acutiflora); available seasonally from Nature Hills. Photograph by Patrick Standish via Flickr.
Above: Oudolf favors perennials with a strong vertical aspect, such as Veronicastrum virginicum 'Diane'; he leaves them standing in the winter to create a sculptural effect under snow. Photograph by Sericea via Flickr.