the dutchman in yorkshire
August 8, 2014
” I had the idea of creating different garden rooms but on a big scale” says Piet Oudolf. The walled garden at Scampston Hall is where this idea was carried out. Within a geometric structure, the informality of the planting spreads through and harmonizes the experience of the journey – from room to room. Rivers, drifts and flowing lines are the theme – just enough and, not so much, as to dampen or annihilate. Unfortunately, these images show clearly that the air was laden with Yorkshire moisture on this visit, so water is all around . . .
. . . . curving ribbons of Molinia caerulea ‘Poul Petersen’ are woven through the mown turf base layer in the Drift Garden. As the grasses grow, the dynamic changes into a soft meadow landscape – the initial pattern is hidden. Low seating beneath the Chinese cork trees (Phellodendron) is surrounded by Salvia ‘Purple Rain’ – all quite delicious and showing that simple’s best.
Mature beech hedging rings the exterior of the garden rooms – visible on one side of the Plantsman’s Walk as well as within in the Spring and Summer Box Borders . . . .
. . . Astrantia m. ‘Claret’ punctuates pink Geranium ‘Rose Clair’, or is it the other way round? Woodland plants froth and spill under the Cercidiphyllum trees. A well-known Oudolf device of a central geometric shape, in this case, an oval, is positioned here filled with Molinia ‘Transparent’ – the arching habit disguises the formality of the pattern. A sense of formality is retained all year however, in the Silent Garden, where columns of yew are firmly entrenched within square clipped bases – the only feel of movement here comes from the water surface which hardly ripples . . . a very poor photo. This is said to be a room with a calm atmosphere . . . I’ve made it look depressing.
Cherry trees and a flowery mead circle The Mount which is worth ‘mounting’ to appreciate the whole scheme and understand how the rooms connect and balance – just like looking at a master plan. Oudolf comes into his own with the Perennial Meadow – a traditional quincunx filled with naturalised planting. Groups of plants and individual species appear to be scattered in a graceful manner but rise up and blend into a powerful almost musical performance . . . even in the wet.
Rudbeckia occidentalis wafting around above yellow Thermopsis caroliniana and Salvia ‘Blauhugel’ – quite splendid. A pleasing little gate too from which to exit – Yat is Yorkshire dialect for gate.
One lesson, Nature, let me learn of thee,
One lesson which in every wind is blown,
One lesson of two duties kept at one
Though the loud world proclaim their enmity–
Of toil unsever’d from tranquility!
Of labor, that in lasting fruit outgrows
Far noisier schemes, accomplish’d in repose,
Too great for haste, too high for rivalry.
Yes, while on earth a thousand discords ring,
Man’s fitful uproar mingling with his toil,
Still do thy sleepless ministers move on,
Their glorious tasks in silence perfecting;
Still working, blaming still our vain turmoil,
Laborers that shall not fail, when man is gone. Mathew Arnold Quiet Work