The Oudolf Field, Hauser & Wirth, Somerset
All last summer I’d been meaning to visit this place. There just wasn’t time.
There really isn’t time this year either, especially as it’s a two hour drive. But what do you know, all of a sudden Himself is chivvying for replacement floorboards and where is the best reclamation yard for miles around? Just up the road from Hauser & Wirth.
For the second time in 24 hours Mike rejected the route offered by his trusty navigator and decided to follow his own. After all the hard work I’d put into it too. All that burning of the late night oil, slaving over dusty old maps and sketching out of route plans on the back of an envelope.. OK, so I put the postcode into Google Maps and pressed ‘Go’. The most challenging part of the whole operation is finding a spot with 4G, as rare as a shedful of hens’ teeth in these parts. Faced with ‘No Service’, following a preset route requires imagination but is not impossible. Setting it up in the first place though, that needs every last bit of juice in the tank. Diligent observance of signal strength is required and a lightning fast reaction the second there’s enough. How many times has Mike had to ram on the anchors at the scream of “STTTOP!! HERE! NOW!”, sliding to a halt into a farmer’s gateway if he’s lucky and in the middle of the single track road if he’s not.
But this time of course we were going by Mike’s route. So how did that work then? On Tuesday night we followed a tractor which refused to pull over and then yesterday three large lorries in a convoy on a narrow country lane. The journey home on each occasion, following the directions provided by the app, proved to be faultless.
The Oudolf Field sits behind the Somerset outpost of modern art gallery Hauser & Wirth, located in Bruton at Durslade Farm.
Carefully shaped and planted, the garden echoes the tradition of classical gardens, but the variety of species and combination of plants creates a looseness, softening the formality of the appearance. The garden contains over 26,000 herbaceous perennials. Wide canopied trees have been planted between the gallery and garden to frame the view. The surrounding hedges provide a sense of enclosure, whilst the views of the hills and fields beyond remain visible. A series of paths cut through the vegetation, inviting visitors to wander through the garden. Oudolf’s landscaping design continues around the buildings including the inner cloister courtyard, where the old buildings meet the new. *
I just loved it. The sweeping vistas from one area of the garden to the next..
The perfect composition of the borders in terms of height, colour, texture and form.
The softness of the planting enhanced by grasses.
On this quite breezy day, the movement and rustling of the leaves.
Echinacea purpurea ‘Fatal Attraction’
The whole site is literally alive with butterflies, bees and flocks of small birds homing in on the seedheads that are already starting to form.
Snails? Welcome ones.
The art gallery (no indoor pictures allowed), as with the garden, is free to enter and well worth a look around. Whilst it may not appeal to those with a more traditional taste it is interesting without doubt. I will gaze upon the jars in the kitchen cupboard in a completely different light from now on. And then there is the Roth Bar & Grill. We booked ahead and I’m glad we did. It’s extremely popular. Mostly, it would appear, with the local ‘Ladies Who Lunch’. And why not indeed.
Our customary practice on a lunch outing, for the sake of the perpetual diet, is to share a dessert. One portion, two spoons. But by this time of course Mike had spotted the chocolate mousse being served at a table nearby. It seemed that if I was to enjoy so much as a single molecule of the mousse and its accompanying salted caramel sauce I would have to order one of my own. Delicious. If a tad rich. A half portion would have been ample. For me.
A further wander around the garden to try to burn off some of the calories before plotting the onward route. Floorboards were calling. Back to the place with the Russian tank. But that’s a tale for another day.
No shortage of inspiration to take home.
* words from the Oudolf Field guidebook
With thanks to Jill Anderson for reminding me to go. You can find her recent post about Hauser & Wirth at Growing Nicely (here)