The Oudolf Field at Hauser & Wirth29th September 2017 • Places to Visit • Stephanie Donaldson
I finally made it to the Hauser & Wirth Gallery in Somerset on a glorious early autumn day – a perfect time to see garden designer Piet Oudolf’s planting in its full autumnal glory. Although there were great splashes of colour, it was the rhythm and texture of the garden that really caught my eye – the way that the perennials and grasses weave into one another creating a fabulous tapestry effect. And the scale – this is a perennial meadow after all rather than a garden – and where we might plant in groups of threes or fives in our domestic gardens, here the planting has been up-scaled accordingly.
The Oudolf Field is at the rear of the gallery on a gently upward-sloping hill with wide grass paths that invite you to wend your way through it towards the egg-shaped building at the top. Needless to say, the plant combinations are terrific and provide plenty of inspiration to take away – for anyone with an open sunny garden, or at least a sunny corner.
The rich purple Michaelmas daisies were alive with bees and butterflies and although the insects were visiting other flowers, these were clearly their favourite.
There are two other areas of Piet Oudolf planting at Hauser & Wirth – in front of the gallery an Elizabeth Frink head peers through a veil of planting, while the inner courtyard with paperbark mulberries emerging from a sea of grasses.
I would like to have visited the galleries, but on the day I was there they were closed while being prepared for the next exhibition. If you would like to combine art and horticulture, it is worth checking before you go to see what is open. I sought consolation in the exceptionally good restaurant, so do make sure that you allow time to eat there.
For once, instead of travelling independently I joined up with a group visit to Hauser & Wirth organised by Garden Days Out www.gardendaysout.com. It combined Hauser & Wirth with a rare visit to nearby Stavordale Priory, the garden of theatre producer Sir Cameron Macintosh. His garden is not open to the public and even on private visits photography is not allowed, so you will just have to take it from me that it is a mixture of classic English country garden with good structure and fine topiary, combined with some unsurprisingly theatrical touches.