Design & Decor - Design Ideas

The natural planting style

Lorraine Flanigan
Photography by
Janet Davis

Lorraine Flanigan talks to world-famous Dutch landscape designer Piet Oudolf, renowned for developing the Natural Planting Style. Inspired by nature and skilfully shaped by innovative plant combinations, this elegant look is easy to get with our tips and plant picks

LF: You’ve used North American native plants in many of your garden designs. Why?
PO: They’re such good garden plants. They’re long-lived, they clump up and don’t run, and they’re low maintenance—particularly the grasses—which makes them especially suitable for public spaces.

Beauty in all seasons
In collaboration with Toronto-based landscape architect firm Martin Wade & Associates, Piet Oudolf designed the Toronto Botanical Garden’s Entry Garden Walk and Arrival Courtyard. Enclosing the entrance is a series of formal hedges planted with a variety of deciduous shrubs trained in wire cages. The perfectly clipped forms create welcoming waves of blossoms and foliage that change with the seasons.

Compared with other public spaces Oudolf has designed, the TBG gardens are smaller in scale. The challenge was to create an inviting entrance while keeping the space intimate and complex enough to interest knowledgeable gardeners. Oudolf played with plant groupings, arranging various-sized blocks of either single specimens or combinations of hundreds of different plant families to create a harmonious diversity of textures and forms.


Photos, from top: The Toronto Botanical Garden in September, and the same view in October by Janet Davis –

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