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Designer Visit: Piet Oudolf’s Otherworldly Garden at Hauser & Wirth Somerset

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Designer Visit: Piet Oudolf’s Otherworldly Garden at Hauser & Wirth Somerset

December 26, 2017

Somerset is one of those counties that keeps itself to itself. It’s a place that you make a point of going to; you don’t rush through (unless you’re on the M5). So the idea of a destination gallery with a jewel of a garden in Bruton, Somerset, does make sense. Hauser & Wirth is a place that people cross the country, and the world, to see.

The main draw for garden visitors is Oudolf Field, a slope of 1.5 acres enclosed on three sides by traditional hedging. It’s a former field that is now a garden, conceived by international star Piet Oudolf. With the Dutch designer’s trademark perennials that have beauty at every stage, we wonder how they are doing in deepest winter?

Photography by Heather Edwards.

Oudolf field at Hauser and Wirth Somerset in Winter

Above: The answer, of course, is just fine. With plants that are chosen for their texture and shape, over color, it is a given that on frosty days they’ll be giving a good account of themselves.

Seen here from the middle of Oudolf Field, the gallery buildings were completed in 2014. Behind them stand the original barn and pigsty from Dursdale Farm, linked together around a courtyard by Paris studio Laplace. The courtyard garden is also designed by Piet Oudolf.

Winter prairie border with Sedum 'Matrona' seed heads in foreground - Oudolf Field, Hauser and Wirth Somerset

Above: The winter prairie border with Sedum ‘Matrona’ seed heads at the front.

Hauser & Wirth’s owners have galleries in London, New York, Los Angeles and Zurich, but chose Durslade Farm as their rural outpost because they already lived locally. They commissioned Piet Oudolf to landscape the whole site.

Frosted seed heads of Datisca cannabina

Above: Frosted seed heads of the arching foliage plant Datisca cannabina.

Eryngium yuccifolium seed head - Oudolf field, Hauser and Wirth Somerset

Above: Button snakeroot, or Eryngium yuccifolium. Eryngiums dry particularly well in situ, without changing too drastically from their summer appearance.

Frosted seed heads of Echinacea pallida - Oudolf Field, Hauser and Wirth Somerset

Above: After the magenta petals have dropped, seed heads of Echinacea pallida remain. Although the space has the initial look of a planted field, it is divided into 17 flower beds and a pond.

Winter border with Molinia and Aster seedheads, feature mounds of circular grass on a path - Oudolf field, Hauser and Wirth Somerset

The winter border with seed heads of purple moor-grass Molinia and Aster.

The field-garden is bisected by a central walkway, leading from gallery and pond toward open country. Grass island mounds bridge the gap between the new building’s uncompromising lines and the romantic groups of perennials.

Seed heads of Agastache 'Black Adder' in Winter

Above: Seed heads of Agastache ‘Black Adder’, after making a graceful transition from purple to frosted brown.

Winter border with Achillea, Monarda, grasses and Agastache 'Black Adder' seed heads

Above: A minimal palette from what was already a subtle color mix of Achillea, Monarda, grasses and Agastache ‘Black Adder’.

Visit more of Dutch designer Piet Oudolf’s gardens with us:

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