A Garden Tour for Plant Lovers

Explore naturalistic planting, one of the most important trends in gardens today, on the Piet Oudolf & Dutch Wave Gardens tour to The Netherlands, August 8-16. The itinerary is focused on The Dutch Wave, a movement known for using tough, long-lasting perennials and ornamental grasses arranged in ways that mimic wild plantings in nature. Many gardeners from around the world now follow the tenets of The Dutch Wave but it is master plantsman Piet Oudolf, designer of the plantings at the wildly popular High Line in New York City, who is its best known and most accomplished practitioner. On this special tour planned for plant lovers, you’ll see his artful naturalism, where it came from, and where it’s going.

Without a doubt, the highlight of the tour will be a visit to Oudolf’s own garden in Hummelo. There we will see which plants he’s experimenting with, learn how his garden has influenced his work, and hear about his ideas on maintaining a Dutch Wave garden. There will be lots of opportunity to take gorgeous photos and make copious notes so that plant combinations can be tried back home.  And if we’re lucky and Oudolf is home, we may get a peek inside his studio to see some of the plans for the gardens he’s designing around the world. Prepare yourself for an unforgettable experience!

Tucked deep in a Utrecht city park, we’ll find a horticultural gem, Vlinderhof (Butterfly Garden). Oudolf did the design and in 2013, a group of volunteers planted it. What a wonderful collaboration between community and designer. Soft, wispy, and bold, Vlinderhof exemplifies the most recent iteration of The Dutch Wave.  “Today I saw the most beautiful garden I’ve ever seen!” a traveler exclaimed about Vlinderhof.  It wouldn’t be surprising if this year’s tour members agree.

It would be hard to exaggerate the importance of the late Dutch designer Mien Ruys to modern European garden design. Her experimental, loose, and naturalistic plantings were a profound inspiration to The Dutch Wave. We’ll have the great pleasure to roam her garden, taking in the enormous creative energy of this 20th century woman.

We’ll be warmly welcomed into Jakobstuin by the owner, Jaap de Vries. This garden is his personal creation and he works in it daily. Sometimes called an “Ode to The Dutch Wave”, we’ll clearly see the connection. However, de Vries has put his own twist on that style by particularly emphasizing texture and light. The effect will be delightful.

Prairie gardens, an outgrowth of The Dutch Wave, have become a popular garden type in Europe.  We’ll see a sumptuous example in the demonstration garden at Lianne’s Siergrassen, an ornamental grass nursery. Grasses will sway gracefully in the wind, accented by colorful late season Verbena, Guara, and Persicaria, creating a textural feast. We’ll definitely feel the influence of our own North American prairie in this dynamic, maintenance-friendly garden.

On our tour to explore the gardens of Piet Oudolf and The Dutch Wave, we’ll see both private and public gardens; learn where Dutch Wave ideas came from and where they seem to be going; and discover exciting, new plants and novel ways to use familiar ones.  Our immersion in this luscious, perennial-rich planting style will be deeply inspiring.  Do you hear the gardens calling?  Well then, let’s go!