Holland – Touring Piet Oudolf’s garden, Hummelo

Piet Oudolf, the master of the modern day perennial border, has designed such gardens as the High Line, Scrampton Hall, Battery Park, and the Lurie Garden.  I would consider him the designer of the moment and maybe the most in demand plantsman of our day.  To say the least he was the reason for my jaunt across the pond.  The opportunity came about to travel with my former professor Steve Still and a group from the Perennial Plant Association to Piet’s home and garden in the rural country side of Holland.  I have read numerous articles, looked at hundreds of pictures and read his books outlining his garden named Hummelo and now it was my time to see it for myself.  To a plant nerd like me I don’t know that it could get much better.  To see the garden where this masterful designer gets inspired, experiments with plant combinations, relaxes, and calls home….I mean what could be better.   Well, how about talking with Piet and his wife Anja in their garden, looking around his studio, checking out the books in his library…that would be better.  I really don’t mean to brag but truly I don’t know if there is anyone I would want to walk through a garden with more….My wife rolls her eyes every time I talk about it, but as I explained to her it would be like her meeting Reese Whitherspoon.  Yes, that is the best comparison.


A man with so much work going on all over Europe and America I was blown away that he would take time out of his schedule to walk through his garden and talk plants.  Later after talking with Anja I found out that he was excited to meet with other perennial people.   We strolled through his new garden, which is featured in this months issue of Garden Design,  and as he was walked it was great to see that he gets excited about the same things  I do-  textures, the way light bounces off the grass plums on a summer morning, and the way different plants interact.  The garden itself looked effortlessly graceful with cadence of grasses and perfectly place repetition of texture and flower.  Piet has taken US natives and combine them in such a way that makes people reconsider the potential of a perennial border.


I truly didn’t know what to expect when meeting Piet….I say this because from my experience the Dutch people are inherently reserved, I know this is stereotype – but sometimes stereotypes are true.  I will say he was truly a gentleman, very personable, and at times funny.  I am one who believes that behind every great man is a great woman- and Anja is no exception.  They are both wonderful people and I am truly grateful for them taking the time out of their day to meet with a designer from Ohio.

7 thoughts on “Holland – Touring Piet Oudolf’s garden, Hummelo

  1. He is truly an amazing man. I was able to take him on a tour of the garden I work at followed by having dinner with him. I didn’t know what to say when he came up to me and said “Hi, I’m Piet Oudolf.” Of course he is! It was funny to see that someone I put up on a pedestal for their amazing work be so casual as to think I didn’t know who he was.

    Truly a plantsman of all plantsmen. I can honestly say meeting him was the most exciting and intellectually enriching day of gardening I have ever had.

    • Mara,

      Well, Piet’s gardens are spread all over Holland, and the world for that matter. One of his most notable gardens is the Boon Garden which is about 1/2 hour from Amsterdam if I remember correctly. Hummelo, his home and garden (also the town he lives) is about a 2 hour train ride from the center of Amsterdam. He also has a public garden in Rotterdam (Leuvehoofd)- I would say Rotterdam is about an hour train ride from Amsterdam. If you are there you also need to visit Tompenburg Garden and Arboretum….Well worth a visit!

  2. Hey Nick,
    I too am an avid plants lady. I am wondering what the best way to get to Hummelo from Amsterdam is? Since I am visiting from the US, I also would need to contact them to schedule a visit. On their website they do not provide an E-mail address, do you have any suggestions on how to best contact them? Love your blog! Hope to hear from you.

    • Chelsea,

      It is always good to hear from another plant lover! Let me start by saying, a visit to Hummelo will change you life…. So getting to Hummelo, The public transport in Holland is amazing. There are a number of stations in and around Hummelo. From there I would suggest hiring a local taxi and they will know how to get to Piet’s. If you are going to be in Holland for a while and aren’t intimidated by European driving I would say rent a car. The interstates and very easy to navigate and you can get a Euro version of Tom Tom that would take you right there. As far as contacting them I can not really help, I have Piet’s personal email- but I am pretty sure I can not give that out.

      I would also suggest you visit De Tuinen van Appeltern- The Garden of Appeltern- it is 200 little exhibition gardens with amazing plant, stone, and furniture.

      I am envious, safe travels and please report back and let me know how you liked it!

    • Patrick,
      Piet does a great job framing and creating a backdrop for his tapestry of perennial drifts. He actually uses yews and hornbeams at Hummelo but I have seen jobs that he has used boxwood as well. Really can’t go wrong with either….Thanks for the comment- and keep in touch.

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