Piet Oudolf’s Design for Scampston

Piet Oudolf’s style

Oudolf's overall approach to planting has evolved since the 1980s when he and his wife Anja opened their nursery, Hummelo, in Gelderland. In his more recent work, Oudolf's gardens mirror a 'perennial meadow', using and blending plants in a manner that occurs in natural landscapes.

Oudolf practices a naturalistic approach to gardening, considering the seasonal life cycle of a plant and its structural characteristics, over decorative considerations like flower or colour.

Oudolf describes the design as the start and not the end of the process. The stability of perennials after planting are key to Oudolf's designs. Unlike self-seeding or bulb-based plants that spread and require division each season, perennials remain in established formations. The result are gardens that persist in their planned state years after being planted with little deviation from Oudolf's hand drawn maps. This in turn makes the plantings better for ecology and insect life.

"A garden is exciting for me when it looks good through the year, not just at one particular time. I want to go outside and for it to be interesting in all weather, in early spring and late autumn."   Piet Oudolf

Oudolf at Scampston

At Scampston, serpentine forms of yew, cubes of box, pleached limes, adventurous topiary and formal hedges are called into play in Oudolf’s search for the best ways to provide structural emphasis and contrasts in the garden.

Each garden room has a very distinctive character in Oudolf’s design, from the presence of the pillars of yew in the Silent Garden, to the swathes of molinia grasses which form the amber-tipped drifts of grass.

In the Perennial Meadow which sits in front of the Conservatory, Oudolf uses his technique of naturalised planting which gives a long season of interest. The form of each plant, leaf, flower head and stem is equally important, as well as the colour and shape. This area is a magnet to butterflies and bees.

When walking the garden, visitors are advised to finish on the Mount, a vast pyramid like structure. From the top, standing amidst the cherry trees and wild flower meadow – the whole scheme of the design, and the view beyond can be appreciated.

Oudolf’s other works

Other notable works of Oudolf’s include: (link to these sites)

"The Walled Garden at Scampston is really imaginative and creative and a marvellous use of space. It is without doubt one of the great gardens of the early 21st century."
Sir Richard Carew Pole
" Gorgeous house and gardens. Wish I'd come years ago, but will certainly return very soon! Fantastic house tour. "
Rachel & Elizabeth, North Yorkshire
"Good activities to keep the children entertained whilst their parents enjoy the gardens. The butterfly challenge is excellent and we all learnt something. A huge thank you! "
Kay, North Yorkshire
"Quite simply the best garden I have ever seen (and I've seen an awful lot of gardens!) "
Sarah, Oxfordshire
"This garden has made our visit a pure delight and is now in my top 5 gardens. Stunning structure and detail. Calming and strong. A real pleasure - thank you for the pure inspiration. "
Sarah, Warwickshire
"I’ve just returned from a visit to Scampston Walled Garden in North Yorkshire all fired up and feeling inspired by the dazzling autumn planting created by master plant designer Piet Oudolf. The garden really captures the feel of the European garden style or “prairie planting” look as many of us have come to know it. The explosion of seedheads, grasses and collapsing perennials still looked amazing and will continue to do so for many months ahead. "
Sean Murray
"Beautiful gardens and so well maintained. Everywhere was very well thought out, inside and out. Staff were very pleasant. "
Jane & Sue, South Yorkshire
"Within the historic Walled Garden at Scampston Hall there are eight rooms, each one a wonderful display of contemporary planting, structure and form."
Stephen Lacy, Daily Telegraph
"We decided to have lunch in the cafe and so glad we did. I had a cheese jacket potato and side salad and it was very good followed this with a pot of tea and shared a slice of lemon meringue cake. At just under £20.00 well worth it for the quality of the food and service from the ladies who worked there. "
"The most beautiful gardens we have visited in a long time, well worth a visit, a gardeners and plantman's delight."
Andrew, Hampshire