At this month's Parkdale Horticultural Society meeting, writer Tony Spencer gave a presentation on his personal journey and garden inspired by time spent studying with the great Dutch plantsman, Piet Oudolf.
I walked out afterwards into the chill of the night feeling warm and smiling. I'd met Tony in person (having only previously known one another through social media); traveled to the Netherlands and back in one evening; heard Oudolf's voice in my head as I read his quotes from the screen; and graciously been offered a visual storybook of Tony's hard work, tenacity and experimentation in his own garden.
A faithful fan of Oudolf's work myself, it was a pleasure to experience, through another, what studying under him had been like. Moreover, I was reminded of several valuable tools:
• aim to see "the purpose of a plant in four dimensions", the fourth one being time
• try the "acid test" on your own garden: photograph it using the black and white setting of a camera. This enables you to assess plants and layout for form, texture and structure without being distracted by colour
• lastly and beautifully: "share plants, share ideas, freely" -Piet Oudolf
If you're unfamiliar with Oudolf's work I highly recommend taking a peak - you might discover that you've walked amongst his plantings afterall, perhaps at the Toronto Botanical Gardens, New York's High Line or Chicago's Lurie Garden.
See too for yourself some of Tony's adventures and images on his blog: