Planting: A new perspective

Planting: A new perspective
Piet Oudolf and Noel Kingsbury
Timber Press £30

It’s strange to think that there’s any kind of science involved in the gardens that plantsman Piet Oudolf creates. Surely it is about structure and beauty, creating landscapes up there with the likes of Jekyll and Jellicoe. The distinction is that while theirs was a mystical art, he seems to be able, in a truly modern sense, to quantify and categorise his output. And so we have his book on the science behind his art. Oudolf uses his own garden in Hummelo, the Netherlands,as a laboratory in which to experiment on cross-fertilising his beloved perennials, and there’s an empirical approach employed here too. Lavish photographs of his work are counter pointed by graphic representations for planting layouts, individual descriptions and characteristics of species, and best combinations of plants according to season, soil type and orientation. At the back is a directory, which in its cold categorisation of planting types as a mere list, belies all the potential myriad joys. Lovely.