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.)
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.
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.
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.