Hauser and Wirth Somerset
The destination that was the onus for my 2014 English garden tour was the newly opened Hauser and Wirth gallery in Bruton, Somerset. I knew that Piet Oudolf was opening his new garden there in September and when I heard that the Garden Museum was having an all-day grand opening event, with a talk by Piet himself, I had to be there.
The gardens are young, but they will clearly only get better with age. Inside the gallery is a subtle cloister garden, dominated by a grass matrix of Sesleria autumnalis and Molinia caerulea 'Moorhexe' and punctuated with spots of colour from scattered perennials. The main garden, appropriately called "Oudolf Field" is the polar opposite. Big characteristic blocks of perennials mingle with grasses in a riotous tapestry of colour and texture. As a Canadian, it was an unexpected thrill to be able to offer some plant identification assistance to some of the English visitors. Plants like the North American prairie grass Bouteloua curtipendula, unknown to many of the British aficionados, were luckily an established part of my plant vocabulary. It felt a bit odd that I was coming to England and explaining to Brits what some of the plants were, but such is the nature of Oudolf's vast and global palette.
This experience, more than any other I felt on the rest of the trip, confirmed that I had chosen the right path. I left Bruton with the overwhelming impression that I had found my calling.