Piet Oudolf is Designing a Garden in Detroit

Oudolf Garden Detroit

The news that Piet Oudolf is building a public garden is always big, but when he builds a garden in Detroit, it’s epic. For those unfamiliar with Piet Oudolf, he’s a big deal in the gardening world. He’s acquired Rock Star status for designs featuring sweeping groups of plants woven into a natural tapestry. It’s often called the “New Perennial Movement” or “Meadow Gardens”. His designs place the right plant in the right spot. It’s not a new idea, but he’s managed to do it in a way that inspires a lot of people, including me.

The garden in Detroit will be built on 2.6 acres on Belle Isle.  Total project cost is 4.2 million dollars that include $150,000 for the design, $2 million for installation and $2 million for maintenance that will be handled with funds from an endowment. 

Screenshot of the Oudolf Garden Detroit website showing the garden plan.

What’s The Plan?

The Oudolf Garden Detroit started moving dirt on February 3, 2020, with the plants scheduled for installation in late summer. I’ve signed up to volunteer with the planting. I’m excited to see how the plants are placed on the site and how the site is prepared for planting. This is the opportunity of a lifetime. 

Close up image of the Oudolf planting plan. Photo by John Lord on Wiki Commons.

The garden has roughly 94 different plants called out on the plan. The team is raising money by allowing people to sponsor plants. We sponsored two Echinops ritro ‘Veitch’s Blue’ plants to support the cause. 

I’m amazed at the number of plants included in the design. You can read the list of plants and the quantities on the Oudolf Garden Detroit website.  This plant list is a treasure for local gardeners. Each plant is selected for the Belle Isle site. Local gardeners will be able to visit the garden to understand the growing conditions and figure out what plants will work in their gardens.

Photo courtesy Christopher Figge showing a Piet Oudolf garden.

Public Gardens Matter

People spend far too much time looking at screens on their phones and computers. Being able to spend time outdoors, in nature, is important. Public gardens and green spaces give people an escape. My garden is a happy place. I feel the sun on my head, smell the soil and hear the birds. My garden makes me happy.

People are drawn to nature. Even people that don’t garden. Look at the huge numbers of people that visit public green spaces like Central Park, the Lurie Garden in Chicago or the High Line garden in New York City.  

The Oudolf Garden Detroit is a big deal. I can’t wait to see this garden develop. It’s a gift to all the people of Detroit, especially its gardeners.

Books to Help You Learn More About Natural Garden Design

Planting the Natural Garden by Piet Oudolf and Henk Gerritsen

Planting: A New Perspective by Piet Oudolf and Noel Kingsbury

Dream Plants for the Natural Garden by Piet Oudolf and Henk Gerritsen

Gardens of the High Line: Elevating the Nature of Modern Landscapes by Piet Oudolf and Rick Darke

Designing with Plants by Piet Oudolf and Noel Kingbury

Planting Design: Gardens in Time and Space by Piet Oudolf and Noel Kingbury

Happy Gardening!

Lurie Garden Millennium Park Chicago, Illinois. Photo courtesy Dan Hiris.
High Line, New York City in May 2014. Photo by Another Believer Wiki Commons
Poppies in the meadow at Chanticleer (not an Oudolf design, but just as stunning in its beauty).

I’m excited to watch this garden develop. I consider myself fortunate to live so close to this beautiful space.

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