Ouldolf’s work at the Serpentine 2011 by Peter Zumthor (Original plan and installed view)
I’ve had long-standing curiosity about the different between landscape architects, gardeners, and architects. I wouldn’t say I have a critical or technical answer. Instead, I will say that I have been quite an admirer of Piet Ouldolf’s work for the past few weeks. Yes, only a few weeks.
Maybe because it’s allergy season—aachooo!—and I’m highly allergic, it’s not often that I find myself wandering around gardens, or even the grassy median for that matter. However, when I found out that Piet Ouldolf was the planter-mastermind behind the High Line’s awesome flora, I became entranced by his work. Did you know that he also did the central garden of Zumthor’s Serpentine Gallery from 2011?
On Ouldolf’s website, he has an “inspiration” section with the following three subheadings: “Nature, Art, Time.” It strikes me as such a lovely combination, which helps to clarify why as an architect, I’ll never be a great landscape architect. There’s something about the messiness of plants that I can’t submit too. I find myself wanted to line up all the trees in my drawings and stamping the same ones over and over.
I’ve read that Oudolf pairs his plants to be “happy in each other’s company” and prefers species that are indigenous to the area. He even thinks about a plant’s “afterlife.” (Which I’m interpreting as the phase where it turns back into fertilizer). After having looked at his work a little more closely, I’m inspired to head back out to Mount Auburn Cemetery (Go Olmstead!) and not make fun of all those people who have let their front lawns become overgrown and weedy.