Rebecca Smith - Garden design & consultancy

Oudolf Field - Hauser & Wirth Somerset

I considered my visit to Hauser & Wirth Somerset on Thursday this past week to be a research trip more than a jolly day out of the office. More than anything, it was an opportunity to study the plants and planting used by landscape designer Piet Oudolf. I am familiar with his work at Bury Court, which is minutes from my home in Hampshire, and have been to the Lurie Garden in Chicago but Hauser & Worth has been on my list of places to visit since it opened last year. I wanted to see how the plants had settled in and have been trying to find a free day which is not raining since June!  Thursday the sun was out, the weather most obliging, and I set off with fellow garden designers Amy Hannigan, Nicky Corkerton and Camilla Hiley for a study day armed with camera and notebook.

Cloister Garden

 In this, the Cloister Garden, perennials and grasses are planted in a gravel bed under a large sculpture by Louise Bourgeouis.

Spider by Louise Bourgeouis

Flowering last week amongst the grasses were the tall white flowers of the Cimicifuga 'Brunette' (also called actaea) which provided contrast to the fading golds and greens of the grasses.  It catches the light and stands out beautifully and as a bonus the flowers are sweetly scented. 

Cimcifuga (Actaea) Brunette

Also charmingly dotted through the planting was the autumn flowering crocus, colchichum autumnal, which I thought looked rather lovely peeking through the fading planting. Traditionally I have seen it planted in bare circles under trees  which makes it look rather bland and faded (and live up to it's common name of naked lady), here it looked wonderful and it will be interesting to see it in future years as it bulks up. 


Helpfully, Hauser & Wirth sell copies of the planting plans produced by Piet Oudolf so that we can all learn about the plants used here. There are many plants which I was not familiar with but will now look out for to test in my own garden in Hampshire. 

Seedheads and Grasses

The weather has been perfect for the past two weeks; the long days of sunshine and no rain together with cool nights combine to create the perfect atmosphere to allow the autumn colours and tints to develop and create the wonderful burnished effect of Indian Summer. The asters and Japanese anemone are flowering madly here still although the helleniums are losing their petals quickly.

I am just going to let the photo speak for themselves:

Autumnc olours

Persicaria 'Orange Field' provides contrast to Aster 'Twilight'.


Rudbekia subtomentosa contrasts with Anemone 'Hadspen Abundance'.

Colour Pop! by Piet Oudolf

view from the pod

Asters and sedum Matrona

I came away from my day out feeling refreshed and enthused - the planting is exciting and I learned a bit more about different grasses and perennials. I want to fill areas of my garden with perennials Aster umbellatus and Succisa pratensis ( a form of scabious with pale Wedgwood blue flowers at head height) and add the grasses Seslaria autumnalis and Molina 'Transparent' to contrast in shape and texture. 

There is the art, which I have not touched on because we did not really give it the time due to it, and there are two shops where very helpful chatty people can answer all your questions.

There is also a very nice restaurant where we ate lunch - the Roth Bar and Grill - where we ate the nicest version of jacket potato and beans I have had in a long time; a sweet potato with ricotta and chick peas. Heaven. And the best bit is you can sit under these silvered palm trees looking at an Alexander Calder sculpture. 


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