Dutch master gardener Piet Oudolf has designed gardens around the world. Now, intrigued by Detroit and charmed Belle Isle, he has committed to design a garden in the park.
He was brought to Belle Isle by the Garden Club of Michigan earlier this year in hopes he would be interested in creating one of his artistic gardens.
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.
He is a leading figure of the “New Perennial” movement, which uses herbaceous perennials and grasses and plants are chosen for form and structure with an emphasis on picking the right plant for the right spot. His garden designs are artistic, ecologically inspired, accessible, welcoming, and enjoyed year round.
“Oudolf is an international rock star in his field and he’s recognized as an artist and visionary designer beyond the world of gardening. He literally transforms the spaces he touches and in doing so touches millions each year,” says Maura Campbell, the Garden Club’s immediate past president.
The Michigan Department of Natural Resources, which manages the Belle Isle State Park, and the Garden Club of Michigan held two public meetings about the project in November.
The Garden Club of Michigan and the Detroit Institute of Arts auxiliary Friends of Detroit Film Theatre (FDFT) would like Detroiters to know more about Oudolf. They will co-host a program Jan. 4 at 7:00 p.m. that includes the documentary “Five Seasons: The Gardens of Piet Oudolf” and a conversation with Oudolf and filmmaker Thomas Piper.
Oudolf and Piper will discuss the film and the Belle Isle garden site with audience members at the screening.
Born in 1944 in Haarlem, Netherlands, Oudolf has lived and worked in Hummelo, a tiny village in the east Netherlands since 1982. That’s where he started a nursery to grow perennials with his wife, Anja. His garden has since become renowned for its radical approach and ideas about planting design.
The “Pipers Five Seasons” documentary immerses viewers in Oudolf’s work and takes them inside his creative process – from his beautifully abstract sketches to his theories on beauty and their ecological implications. Intimate discussions with the artist were filmed through all fours seasons in Oudolf’s gardens at Hummelo and on visits to his signature public works in New York, Chicago, and the Netherlands.
The documentary also follows Oudolf as he designs and installs a major new garden at Hauser & Wirth Somerset, a gallery and arts center in Southwest England that he considers his most important work to date.
In his 35-year career, Oudolf has achieved international acclaim and was given the Netherlands Prince Bernhard Cultural Foundation Award in 2013.
He co-founded Future Plants, a company specializing in selecting, growing, breeding and protecting plants for landscaping and public areas. He has also written a number of books including his latest Gardens of the High Line: Elevating the Nature of Modern Landscapes as well as Planting: A New Perspective; Landscapes in Landscapes, and Planting the Natural Garden.
Tickets are $10 for general admission and $8 for seniors and FDFT members and are available at https://bit.ly/FiveSeasonsDFT.