Written by Noel Kingsbury
This is how we are used to seeing it – the ‘curtain’ hedge at the back, as featured in books and countless magazine articles.
And here it is going into a shredder:
Piet tells me it had got 20cms of water last August (remember the geography lession, it rains too much and The Netherlands fills up), and began to go brown this winter. Well, I know that yew does not grow well with us here in Herefordshire where we have up to 2m of rain a year and slowish drainage, so it is not surprising that ?phytophthora set in. So goodbye hedge. I said to Piet it was getting to be a bit of a cliché, and he agreed. He doesn’t stand still for long.
Piet seems to be getting used to the idea of life without the hedge, there is still beech behind to shelter from the road. He seems to be less and less reliant on the ‘modernist formality’ he inherited from Mien Ruys (see Fran’s post about this very innovative Dutch designer here). I can see how he might have felt he has reached the end of the road with this approach, but for the rest of us, I’m not sure. We have so little real contemporary geometry and clipping in the UK, that a lot of us welcomed the creative tension between it and the perennial plantings we saw in his work.
The fundamental fact is though, that good ideas can become clichés all too quickly. The Oudolf hedge was being copied, usually badly. Best to move on. We should too. Which brings me to the seafront at Bexhill-on-Sea, the south coast town where I had to face down a raging mob last year (see my post on this), a place where people had just got used to something and did not like change. I now hear from my colleages at HTA Landscape Design that the planting has survived the winter and that the locals are even expressing their appreciation. See some more pictures here.
Moral of these stories…… we shouldn’t get used to things staying the same; plants grow and die and time moves on.