Oudolf’s work on the Highline possesses a loose, breezy naturalism that smartly references the site’s former beauty as a fallow rail track. The end effect is a planting that looks at once highly designed yet absolutely natural; modern yet ecological; legible yet ineffable. As a planting designer, I’m dying to know: how did he pull that off?
A recent discovery of a piece of Oudolf’s planting plan on the internet has rocked my world. It is my horticultural Rosetta stone, the key to decoding this brilliant design. Come close, I will share with you its secrets.
Can you try this at home? Well, with planting the ultimate maxim is: know thy materials. Oudolf is a master of knowing exactly what species to use to create the matrix, and which perennial accents to blend. So perhaps the rest of us mere mortals will stumble around doing bad imitations. But using Oudolf’s strategy, our designs will now be liberated from the confines of form-making that dominated planting design for the last 2000 years.