the sound of music

I can’t help but be fascinated by the natural meadows I see in my travels in Europe. My own childhood memories of running through a meadow, picking bouquets and making daisy chains rekindled.

In the Berner Oberland region of Switzerland last week the meadows were in their full glory. Cranesbill geranium, larkspur, buttercups, etc, etc, against a backdrop of glacier mountains and gorging falls… all to the music of cowbells.

My questions remain… why don’t they save resources and stop mowing the grass along the Garden State Parkway?  And imagine if Trump wanted to build a golf course here?



Swiss meadow

garden seats

Rietveld "zig-zag" chairsMien Ruys (see previous post on gardens April 27th) worked together on several projects with Gerrit Rietveld. His “zig-zag” chairs are instantly recognizable and it did not surprise me to find them displayed inside the Mien Ruys studio. But there were many other seating arrangements, making it truly a “garden for the people”. Gardens are always in transition and without a place to sit and observe, a garden designer cannot evaluate its progress.

red seats in sculpture garden

newly built "roof-top" garden

water garden seats

lounge chairs under cherry blossom

red seats in childrens garden

my favorite Rietveld chairs

meadow mow

The natural meadow contains what some New Jersey home owners would consider weeds. Luckily, here in Bavaria, we are not breathing in the chemical pesticides which fill the air spring time but the little parachutes of dandelion seeds. A sneezing experience perhaps, but healthier in the long run.

I like the way these meadows are mown to preserve the (common) Lawn Daisy (Bellis perennis), Buttercup (Ranunculus) and Dandelion. 


lawn daysiescheery dandelions

fantastic bark

acer griseum

bark of Acer griseum

One of my favorite trees, albeit very slow growing, is the Paperbark maple (Acer griseum). I saw a beautiful specimen in the Mien Ruys gardens recently.This understory tree has peeling orange-cinnamon bark and its dark green, three-lobed leaves turn a brilliant orange-red in autumn. It grows best in moist, well-drained soil in sun to part shade.

oudolf kwekerij

oudolf nurseryUpon entering Piet Oudolfs’ nursery and garden in Hummelo, the Netherlands, we saw the man himself with shovel in hand. For being the gardening legend he is, I could have been a bit surprised to find him so “hands-on” transplanting a tree with a small crew. Of course I understand, ultimately what keeps us loving our job is what got us started in the first place. In this case, the satisfaction of a successful transplant on a sunny but cool, perfect gardening day.


piet oudolf (left)Because the plants were only recently taken outside the greenhouses, there were only small examples of the beautiful plants selected by the Oudolf team to create the spectacular gardens known for their four-season perennials unique in movement and form. The private gardens are not open until the “grass days” in July but I “snuck a peek” beyond the beech hedges.


early nursery selectsprivate gardenlayers of hedge "blocks"