Sifting through a friends copy of the Saturday Telegraph some weeks ago I came across an article flaunting talks with legendary Piet Oudolf and Tom Stuart Smith. Ok only legendary if you’re a gardener or garden designer I suppose but nevertheless BOTH worth noting even if you’re not!
http://www.oudolf.com/piet-oudolfThe Garden Museum are hosting an exhibition called The Dutch Wave at their premises in Lambeth Palace Road, just opposite the houses of Parliament. All talks were booked out within 24 hours of this article, one wonders if indeed they booked out before then too. As a result they managed to persuade an extra talk out of the Oudolfs for ‘members only’. Of course, I joined immediately. I am now notionally a ‘Country Friend’ which childishly gives me even more pleasure!
The Museum itself hovers within an old church building just opposite the river and Lambeth Palace – yes the home of the current Arch Bishop – is next door. I say hovers as it seems to be firmly but temporarily installed within the old church structure.
Piet and Anja were interviewed by Noel Kingsbury who has been working with them since the 1990’s or was that the 1980’s? and Tania Compton. As they obviously know each other well it made for an interesting insight into how he works and who the support team is.
A late starter, well in his 20’s that is he seems to have thrown himself and his family into the plan & garden design industry lock stock and smoking barrels. After early beginnings in a nursery, then a stint as a landscaper and night student(!) they moved to the countryside, setting up Hummello, which incidentally is to close in the not too distant future, a plant nursery to grow plants he could easily locate for clients and then moving back to designing gardens and planting schemes.
Piet is clearly enthusiastic about his work, the plants, the design – yes he was a designer first plants person second – his projects are clearly expressions of his creativity, his rather boundless creativity. Watching someone like him speak about his inspirations his process of being creative and how the projects evolve, tells me as much about the work as seeing it in the flesh does.
An understated man and although our host waxed lyrical at the closing, Mr O seemed genuinely humble about his achievements and not one to revel in the title Genius. Refreshing and probably what makes his work so appealing is his focus on bringing enjoyment to his audience, be they public or private clients.
I have a few more places to visit now, The Highline next time I am in NYC, Potters Field next time I am in London in growing seasons and Hummello, if I can fit in a trip before it closes….so much to do so little time!