Monthly Archives: June 2017

Visiting Lianne’s Siergrassen – with Carolyn Mullet’s Dutch Wave Garden Tour

Last summer I visited gardens in The Netherlands as a member of Carolyn Mullet’s Dutch Wave tour to see the work of Piet Oudolf and many practitioners of the garden design movement he largely created … the Dutch Wave, often called the New Perennial movement. My experience on this tour convinced me this is the best way to see gardens in distant places. The itinerary is well organized and packed with engaging destinations, and all the logistics of travel and lodging are taken care of for you. I’ve traveled on my own to see gardens but I find traveling alone, making multiple arrangements for transportation and lodging, even finding the gardens, very stressful and time-consuming. If you want to see gardens, this is the way to go. Click on carexTours for more information, and for a special price available until July 8.

Clouds and misty rain only amplify colors, form and atmosphere in gardens. On the day we visited Lianne’s Siergrassen, the subdued light and wet conditions actually deepened the colors of the plants in Lianne’s vast demonstration gardens. A phlox shining out from the darkness within grass heavy with moisture …

… or a fading Rudbeckia standing tall against a multicolored background of beautiful perennials, in fact everything, was saturated with subdued, evocative color .

The gauzy effects of the light heightened the diaphanous quality of some grasses, as here where grass makes an ornamental screen against the blurred background.

Because these are demonstration gardens, Lianne shows many ways to combine the plants she offers, sometimes growing them in large monocultural blocks, as with Hakonechola shown here …

… and in smaller, discrete blocks …

In other parts of the garden she uses mixed plantings to highlight similarities and contrasts in shape, texture, and color …

 

 

Nic and Sally, dressed for wet weather, but all smiles as they explore the riches of a nursery like few others.

Such beautiful combinations as this–do they come about through chance or careful forethought? I imagine the former, but sometimes you just have to let the plants do what they do, and appreciate the result.

Here a sea of mixed grasses, carex and sedum.

And Althea cannabina, a plant I first saw in the summer of 2015 in London, a miniature-flowered hollyhock, which has become rather commonplace in Europe, though I have yet to see it in the US (except on the High Line) seen here at full height …

… and here in close-up.

Here a matrix of grasses (Little bluestem) and perennials (Liatris and other things) patterning the ground surface …

… another mixed planting of a Solidago, Pycnanthemum, and grasses …

… and the bold foliage of a Miscanthus contrasted with a cloud of Sporobolus heterolepis in flower.

The combinations of grasses and perennials work at different scales. Below, the gauzy Sporobolus setting off the dark seedheads of what appears to be a Penstemon digitalis.

And Guara lindheimeri, its sharp white flowers ornamenting the soft grasses behind.

The bold seedheads of Veronicastrum offer a dramatic contrast with the background of grasses (and with the dark foliage of trees).

If you look closely, you’ll see Carolyn almost buried among the grasses.

Lianne’s Siergrassen is only one of many destinations on the Dutch Wave tour. You can also visit the iconoclastic Jac. P. Thijssepark, the Piet Oudolf-designed Vlinderhof, gardens of Noël van Mierlo, John Schoolmeester’s work at Kasteel Geldrop, Van Nature, Piet Oudolf’s own private garden Hummelo, Peter Janke’s Hortvs nearby in Germany, the historic Het Loo Palace, the Kröller-Müller Museum, Henk Gerritsen’s Priona garden, the gardens of Mien Ruys, Jaap de Vries’ Jakobstuin, and many other gardens, special nurseries, and other sites. For details, go to carexTours.

June 17 – Garden Conservancy Open Day at Federal Twist

Federal Twist will open for the Garden Conservancy Open Days on June 17 this year–earlier than ever before–and you are welcome to come. For information and driving directions, click on this link.

It’s been a rainy spring and I’m just back from almost a month in Spain and France. Over the next two weeks I’ll be busy “editing” the plants and pondering how to turn their profuse spring growth to best advantage.

The images in this post were taken on June 1 last year, so they are as close as I can come to showing what’s likely to be here on 17 June 2017 (a Saturday). I expect the daylilies will be in flower, the Japanese irises and Iris ‘Gerald Darby’, the Baptisias. Perhaps the Filipendula rubra ‘Venusta’ will be in bud. It all depends on the warmth of the coming days.

Come with an eye for detail. My garden is very much in the spirit of the layered plantings advocated so eloquently in Thomas Rainer’s and Claudia West’s book, Planting in a Post Wild World. Plant form and structure, and the interplay of shapes and textures, are the main thing in late spring and early summer here at Federal Twist.

Here is the Garden Conservancy description of the garden:  ‘When we moved into a mid-century house overlooking the woods, I immediately knew only a naturalistic, informal garden would be appropriate to the place. The garden is hidden. You enter through the house, where you first glimpse the landscape, a sunny glade, through a wall of windows. Huge perennials and grasses evoke an “Alice in Wonderland” feeling (many plants are taller than you). The garden is in the New Perennial tradition: plants are massed in interwoven communities, and emphasize structure, shape, and form—which are long lasting—rather than flower.

Begun as an experiment to explore garden making in the challenging conditions of unimproved, heavy, wet clay, the garden is ecologically similar to a wet prairie, and is maintained by cutting and burning. Much of the garden peaks in mid-July, when plants reach mature height and flower, then a second peak occurs in October when low sunlight makes the grasses glow in yellows, russets, and golds.

Two small ponds attract hundreds of frogs, insects, and wildlife. Many gravel paths open the plantings to extensive exploration. The garden has been featured in The New York Times, Horticulture magazine, and in two books, Gardens of the Garden State (2014) and Planting in a Post-Wild World (2015). Recently, it appeared in the Garden Design Journal, the magazine of the Society of Garden Designers (UK) in January 2016, in the September 2016 in Gardens Illustrated, and the October issue of Better Homes & Gardens.’

Please consider visiting on June 17. Tickets, available at the door, are $7, fully in support of the work of the Garden Conservancy.

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I’ve recently started a small garden design business on retirement from my full-time work. To visit my garden design website, click on the link below:

www.federaltwistdesign.org