Oudolf Documentary Close to Completion

Tonight I was able to attend a preview screening of a documentary about Piet  Oudolf. The screening was sponsored by the Lurie Garden (one of the gardens Oudolf helped to create) and attended by the director, Thomas Piper, as well as Oudolf himself. (Oudolf was in Chicago on one of his regular consultations with the Lurie Garden staff.)

piet oudolf
Piet Oudolf

The movie is called Fall Winter Spring Summer Fall: Five Seasons with Piet Oudolf. Here’s a link to the trailer.

Piper is no gardener, but an experienced maker of documentaries who specializes in artists, designers, and architects. Fall Winter Spring etc. mentions specific plants and garden techniques only in passing.

DSC_0035 lurie garden
White wild indigo and the Chicago skyline at the Lurie Garden.

Instead, it covers Oudolf’s career and treats his gardens more as works of art than horticulture. Much of the movie shows footage of the gardens with only unobtrusive music in the background. These moments show through video how Oudolf’s gardens use texture and movement – and how they have a different kind of beauty in each season.

There is also a good deal of Oudolf: showing visitors around Hummelo, his home garden; marveling at wildflowers in Texas and a woodland preserve, working with gardeners in Chicago and the UK – and shopping for cheese. I especially enjoyed footage of Oudolf drawing a garden design by hand.

Lurie Garden
Lurie Garden in fall. Piet Oudolf designs for every season.

The dialogue caught in these snippets can be entertaining and instructive. Oudolf’s love of plants, even as they fade away, really comes through. One remark he makes is that the atmosphere of a garden is the most important thing. This struck me as both profound and perplexing. Instinctively I feel that his gardens are highly atmospheric, and yet I would be hard put to describe what that means.

Piper said in his remarks that this movie is still in production but that it should be completed soon (though soon was undefined). In any case, I would recommend keeping your eyes open for when this film is officially released.

And many thanks to the staff of the Lurie Garden for making this experience available to Chicago garden-lovers.


33 Comments on “Oudolf Documentary Close to Completion”

  1. It is hard to define the atmosphere at the Lurie-I have been several times and when I walk through the hedge I always feel like I have entered another place, far removed from the city. It seems like the sounds of Michigan Ave just fade away and you are in this glorious cocoon where the plants host bees, bunnies, birds and the human visitors. The views of the skyline beyond add another element-you see them but the are only a stage set .The Lurie is on my top 5 of US gardens, pure genius.

  2. Having just been to one of his gardens, I found this post so interesting. I enjoyed the video and about half way through, there was the Hauser and Wirth garden that I visited.! I will certainly keep a watch for the film being shown over here.

  3. What a thrill that must have been to see Oudolf in person! I remember the first time I visited the Lurie; it was May, and I was simply captivated by it. I keep saying I want to go back in the fall to see it at that time of year.

  4. What a wonderful opportunity! I have never been to Lurie gardens, I am adding it to my list. I have a couple of books by Piet Oudolf but would love to see him in a movie or better yet in person! You have brought some interesting design ideas here in just a few words. Atmospheric is not a word I would have associated with gardens…..I have taken to hear the concept of movement in the garden…a breeze or even the sense of one is a treasure in our stifling summer sauna!

  5. Wow – the comment about a garden’s atmosphere really struck me. It made me think…what atmosphere does my garden have? What do I want it to have? That one statement can really turn a mishmash of plans into a solitary focus. I have a lot of work to do….

    btw – that shopping for cheese bit made me laugh out loud. Some may call me weird, but I for one would much rather shop for cheese than a new pair of shoes 🙂

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