In this country, Oudolf is most well known for his naturalistic plantings at the Lurie Garden in Chicago and the High Line in New York City. He's also just planted a bulb border at the New York Botanic Garden -- so that will be a surprise come spring.
Oudolf teamed up again with author and horticulturist Noel Kingsbury to explain how to select the right plants for his meadow-like designs. It looks easy, but in reality it's quite complex. To make it look good, you need to know how the plants will perform in certain kinds of soil; structural characteristics and flowering times; and which plants combine well with others.
Throughout the book, there are useful lists of plants: which plants have repeat blooms (and when); plants for scattering and layering; calculating how many plants you'll need for a given area; and how to successfully combine plants. The book also contains a number of planting plans that give you a good idea of how Oudolf puts his designs together.
Oudolf's style is not the same as Oehme-van Sweden's, who popularized, in this country, designs of naturalistic plantings with lots of ornamental grasses and native perennials. Oehme's, I think, is characterized by more use of broad sweeps, perhaps a bit more formal, while Oudolf tends to mix things up a little more. But they are definitely different. In fact, I have a client right now who wants an Oehme van Sweden type garden -- and definitely not the Piet Oudolf look.
Some people think meadow plantings look too messy, but others love them, especially when they are in full summer flower. Even if you don't like Oudolf's "look," there's plenty of useful information in this book -- plant height and spread, plant architecture and spacing, whether the plant seeds around or not. As a pure plant reference book, most designers would definitely want a copy.
And, just out in paperback is Oudolf's earlier book, written with Henk Gerritsen, Dream Plants for the Natural Garden (Frances Lincoln Ltd, 2013). It contains profiles of some 1200 individual plants that are suitable for a "natural" garden. It's divided into sections listing perennials, grasses, ferns, bulbs, shrubs -- and so on -- but also contains sections on self-seeding plants, annuals, invasive plants, and those that are quite demanding.
Lovely photos, as well, to help with identification. Another wonderful reference book and a great companion book for Planting.