Piet Oudolf public garden on Belle Isle receives $1 million grant from Ralph C. Wilson, Jr. Foundation

Piet Oudolf public garden on Belle Isle receives $1 million grant from Ralph C. Wilson, Jr. Foundation
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Oudolf Garden Detroit (OGD) has received a $1 million grant from the Ralph C. Wilson, Jr. Foundation for the Oudolf public garden on Belle Isle, which is scheduled to begin construction this summer.

The grant puts the project within about $350,000 of the OGD’s $4 million overall funding goal, depending on final construction costs. It supports an endowment with the Community Foundation for Southeast Michigan and goes to maintain the garden in the future.

Piet Oudolf was brought to Belle Isle by the Garden Club of Michigan, which initiated the project in 2016 by sending him a “love letter from Detroit.”

“We are thrilled to be able support what is sure to become a world-renowned garden that will have a lasting and positive impact on Detroit and the region,” says James Tighe, director of the parks & trails initiative for the Ralph C. Wilson, Jr. Foundation. “Piet Oudolf is an incredibly influential public garden designer and his approach complements the overall plans to revitalize Belle Isle Park.”

Considered a rock star in this field, Dutch master gardener Piet Oudolf has designed gardens all over the world and has come to love Belle Isle and Detroit. He has described the Belle Isle site as the most natural site for one of his public gardens.

The project is the first public garden project in North America for which Oudolf has created both the master plan and the planting plans. His design includes complex mixed perennial beds, a wetland garden and a special stormwater demonstration garden, that can be scaled and replicated in community and home gardens.  Ninety percent of the plants that will be installed in the garden are coming from Michigan growers.

Oudolf is a steward of our environment using common sense practices. Inspired by North American prairies, he incorporates native plants and grasses in intricate combination with other durable, non-invasive plant selections. His gardens teem with life attracting not just people but birds, insects and pollinators.

Check out the following video from PBS News Hour  to see how Oudolf captures nature’s emotion.

You can help bring the garden to Belle Isle by donating dollars and/or becoming part of the team planting and maintaining the garden.

Oudolf Garden Detroit is actively seeking donations of all sizes to secure the remaining funds needed to begin construction of the garden this summer. The first planting is planned for mid-September 2019, a second planting is planned for spring 2020 and the grand opening of the garden is expected in early fall 2020. Those interested in contributing to the garden or who want to volunteer to help are encouraged to visit www.oudolfgardendetroit.org.

A premier designer for public landscapes, Oudolf’s gardens include the No. 5 Culture Chanel in Paris, the High Line in New York City, Lurie Garden in Chicago’s Millennium Park, Serpentine Gallery in London, England, and Italy’s Venice Biennale as well as Goldman Sachs new headquarters in New York.

The Oudolf garden will be installed in front of the Nancy Brown Peace Carillon.

Oudolf was brought to Belle Isle by the Garden Club of Michigan, which initiated the project in 2016 by sending him a “love letter from Detroit.”

“We think of Piet Oudolf as a modern-day Olmsted. We knew in our hearts that he was the perfect fit for Detroit and Belle Isle at this transformative time in our city’s history. We cannot thank the Wilson Foundation enough for sharing this vision and for their very generous support that will help us endow Piet Oudolf’s Belle Isle garden for generations to come,” says Jean Hudson, founding member of the Oudolf Garden Detroit grounds crew and member of the Garden Club of Michigan.

Oudolf Garden Detroit (OGD) is the volunteer led organization overseeing all aspects of the garden, including fundraising, project management, community outreach, site preparation, plant procurement and installation, and long-term maintenance.

The organization has worked closely with the Michigan Department of Natural Resources, the Belle Isle Conservancy, and the City of Detroit to secure permission and support for the garden to be installed on the site Oudolf selected in front of the Nancy Brown Peace Carillon in the cultural heart of Belle Isle.

Other foundations supporting the project include the Hudson-Webber Foundation, John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, the William Davidson Foundation and the Erb Family Foundation. Many individuals and businesses have also contributed generously to the garden.

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