Wednesday, March 30, 2016
Hello, everyone...thanks for coming back for part 2 of my visit to Vlinderhof. Since my first post covered the history/creation of the garden, today, I thought I'd just share my thoughts on the garden.
The thing that really sticks out in my mind about Vlinderhof is the amazing atmosphere of the place...rich and intriguing...the planting composition shifts continuously as you move through the borders.
Every plant feels like it's in just the right spot...and each plant is allowed to shine...but it doesn't feel forced. There is a sense that everything simply fell into place like a jigsaw puzzle.
The beauty of the garden is how everything works together.
As I mentioned in my previous post, this is a space where the whole is definitely greater than the sum of it's parts.
Each plant supports and enhances it's bedmates.
Drifts of plants coalesce in and around each other in shifting, dynamic patterns.
The garden is built on layers of contrasting and supporting shapes, colors and textures.
At times, the richly varied planting seems to evoke a rich quilt...or a vibrant tapestry.
Brightly-colored flowers emerge from swirling eddies of grasses.
A hallhark of Oudolf-designed gardens...seedheads are prominently displayed...as in these richly-hued Asclepias seed pods.
While the garden is richly-planted with many choice plants, it never feels like an overstuffed curiou cabinet.
This isn't a stage for divas each battling for attention, but rather for an ensemble cast, where each member's qualities serve to strenghten it's stage-mates.
This eruption of Calamagrostis would look amazing even without the dark knobs of Echinacea in the foreground...but together, they are magic.
The same can be said of this Cimicifuga. Alone, it is lovely...paired with the felted green leaves in the foreground...even more appealing. Framed by the effervescent scrim of Deschampsia and Sesleria, it's unforgettable.
There are so many lessons in how to use these plants to their best effect...these Echinacea and Eryngiums need a light background to show off their strong forms and colors.
This Limonium would be far less dramatic were it not bracketed by the varied golden hues of Amsonia and Deschampsia.
Variety is the spice of life, of course, and here another Limonium...with different bedfellows. Panicums and Origanums this time frame warm, ombre-tinged stems of the Limonium.
The straw-colored backdrop of Deschampsia once again plays foil to dark-colored neighbors. The ruddy, sinuous branches of the Selinum would be far less effective without the Deshcampsia behind.
Pull back further and you have even more complexity, with the colors of the Echinacea echoing the Panicum and the Selinum.
As beautiful and striking as Liatris are on their own...how much better are they when rising out of a miasma of grasses?
All in all, my visit to Vlinderhof was completely inspirational...I feel like even now, looking through photos of it, I'm gleaning more inspiration from it.
At turns playful and somber, it's an amazing garden, one which I would recommend to anyone who is visiting the area.
And so we come to the end of my first day in The Netherlands...our next visit will take us to Priona Tuinen, famed garden of Henk Gerritsen.
Also, before I leave you for today, I have to mention that Carolyn Mullet and Carex Tours are returning to The Netherlands & Germany again this year (among their list of tour offerenings)...if you are interested, head on over to their website...I heartily recommend it!
Tuesday, March 22, 2016
Welcome back to the next post on my series covering my trip last fall with Carolyn Mullett & Carex Tours, visiting gardens designed or inspired by Piet Oudolf. Today we look at a truly spectacular garden, Vlinderhof.
You may have noticed my sneaky little hint in the name of this post...yeah...this is a 2-parter...I just had way too many photos and the original post started to resemble the garden version of War & Peace...so I split it into 2 posts to avoid horticultural overload.
The name “Vlinderhof” loosely translates to “Butterfly Garden”, reflecting the desire for the garden to be a draw for wildlife as well as people.
As you enter the large park that contains this garden, the first thing you notice (you can't really help it) is the large, sculptural "pergola" which runs throughout the park and defines the spaces. I'm honestly not sure if pergola is the right word...then again...I'm not sure what word I'd use to describe it! Either way, I kind of love it.
Designed by West 8, the pergola is obviously inspired by the geometry of a honeycomb, some areas are actually filled with nesting materials for various insects and other wildlife.
I can honestly say that words do not do this garden justice...indeed, neither do photos...to be immersed in it will take your breath away.
The story behind how this garden came to be is also of note. Several years ago, in 2013, resident Marc Kikkert, hatched a plan for a piece of unused land in a nearby park (Maxima Park).
A long-time fan of Piet Oudolf's work, Kikkert spearheaded the effort to secure the land from the city of Utrect and hire Oudolf to design the plantings.
In October of that year, they laid out the first paths, and hedges were planted, according to Oudolf's design.
In the spring of 2014, trees, shrubs and perennials were planted (again, all using volunteer labor).
In May of that year, Vlinderhof opened to all in the neighborhood. Believe it or not...there is no admission fee to enter. Like the rest of the park, it is open to the public, free of charge!
Can you imagine being able to just visit this garden, any time you wanted, for FREE!
We were lucky enough, on our visit, to get to meet Marc and several other volunteers...and it was truly humbling to talk to them, considering what they had accomplished...and the enormity of the task they'd taken on.
This entire garden is completely maintained by a volunteer staff of area residents...which amazes me. I found myself wondering if such a feat would be possible in Portland.
I also couldn't believe that the garden was only a little over 1 year old when we visited...it looked so well established...I would have guessed it was at least 3-5 years old (if not older)!
It's hard to wrap my head around the fact that this is essentially a public park...there's just nothing like it in my area - a free, public area focused on the beauty of plants. I kept imagining transporting it to Portland and how amazing that would be.
It's hard to stroll for long without pausing to admire the sheer horticultural sophistication at play here.
The level of complexity and interest is so far beyond what is typical in most public spaces.
I imagine that the benches are used...but I don't think I could ever sit still in this space...there is far too much to explore!
As with so many gardens in the Netherlands, we all came upon plants that we'd only read about in books...like this Succisa pratensis, which goes by the name "Devil's Bit Scabious"...one time that common names certainly trump the botanical one ;-)
I had never seen it in person...it was amazing...and huge! Sadly, I think it would want a moister soil than what I could provide.
Like all truly great gardens, however, Vlinderhof is more than the sum of its parts.
It is a rich and glorious tapestry of structure, color and texture.
While so many public spaces tend to feel static and rigid, this is a garden in the truest sense, full of life, color and movement.
I can well imagine how wonderful it is to visit at different times of the year, to see the transformation from season-to-season.
I'll leave you here for now, knowing that there is another entire post of photos for this fabulous garden to follow.
Once again, my hat is off to Marc and his army of volunteers...it goes to show just what a dedicated group of people can accomplish if they set their minds to it!