|The Piet Oudolf Entry Garden Walk at the Toronto Botanical Gardens, in January 2013.|
|The garden showing its full glory in early fall 2012.|
Martin Wade Landscape Architects were the main drivers of this project, and were responsible for the general layout and several of the individual gardens. Oudolf’s contribution was the Entry Garden Walk, a long narrow walkway squished between the parking lot, the road, and the main building. This garden consists of two fairly wide borders that flank a long straight path, with some small lateral shifts worked in for interest. Oudolf really had his work cut out for him in trying to achieve a satisfying and complex garden in this very exposed and narrow space. The plantings are done in his typical flowing prairie style, as one might expect, and were designed around the same time as the Lurie Garden in Chicago and Battery Park in New York.
|The narrow borders of the Entry Garden Walk.|
|The garden in summer (early August), fall (early October) and winter (early January).|
The Oudolf garden at the TBG has evolved a lot over time. Unfortunately I haven’t been able to find older pictures to show the garden soon after installation, and all the pictures here are from 2012, six years after the garden was planted. You’ll just have to take my word for it that the composition has become much more intertwined and complex as the years have gone by. Reading the TBG website, I have also learned that the maintenance of the garden included absolutely no deadheading for the first 3 years in order to allow plants to self-seed and form a “sophisticated meadow”. Now the plants are selectively deadheaded or weeded.
|The evolving sophistication of the garden. Plants are interweaving on all possible planes.|
Oudolf has also added some unexpected elements to his design, in partnership with Martin Wade. For example, against one glass wall there are three espaliered crabapples, Malus ‘Donald Wyman’, which are planted at an angle. While this may be a common technique in Europe, it’s not something often seen on this side of the pond, and for a long time the TBG got a flood of comments about when the trees would finally be straightened out.
|The angled Malus trees planted against an etched glass fence are most noticeable in the winter. In the summer, they form one layer of greenery together with the rich underplantings and a row of paperbark maples, Acer griseum.|
At the entrance to the building, there are also several boldly shaped hedges of mixed Fagus sylvatica (European beech), Fagus sylvatica forma purpurea (Purple beech) and Cornas mas (Cornelian cherry) grown within large metal frames. A very neat concept, which immediately added structure to the entrance area before the hedges were grown.
|Decideous hedges grown within wire frames make a dramatic entrance to the TBG building in all seasons.|