Review: Five Seasons: The Gardens of Piet Oudolf


Brimming with beauty, Thomas Piper’s sensitive presentation of “The Gardens of Piet Oudolf” is a soft poem of life. Already known as an art photographer, capturing the gardens of Dutch landscape designer Piet Oudolf in all of the seasons is truly a project supreme. Presented with delicate piano accompaniment, never overshadowing the voice of nature, Piper knows how to showcase the grasses, wildflowers, and colors of Oudolf’s love interest.

The film is in seasonal chapters, beginning with fall. Throughout, one feels the analogy to life itself with all its stages of beauty, from exuberance to exquisite frozen design.

If there is any complaint about this presentation, it is that it does not get into the technical aspects of Oudolf’s productions. How does the garden maintain such health? Does he use slug bait and insecticides or does he companion plant? What are his gardening strategies? Why don’t I see any weeds? Does staff work the gardens each morning or are they left to naturally thrive? What about watering, gophers, moles and slugs?

No, this film is just about saturating the screen with beauty. Often Mr. Oudolf is present to add comments, remarking that he has the garden maintained “so it looks natural. What you’d like to see in nature. It’s all about atmosphere.” His first book was titled, “Dream Plants in a Natural Garden.”

His gardens are so impressively beautiful, like impressionist paintings, that even his garden plans, graphed and color-coded, have been framed and hung in an art museum.

Some biographical information is given about Oudolf and we see that as both a young man and now he is nicely handsome and incredibly driven towards the plants he loves.

“What we do in our whole lives it happens in a garden in one year,” says Oudolf. We see a big clock in his field, marking our limited time and the garden’s voyage to regeneration. The piano builds as the flowerbeds bloom. A drone camera spans across filmy, soft plants juxtaposed to solid greens.

Oudolf remarks, “I think it’s a journey in your life to find out what real beauty is — also to discover beauty in things that are at first not beautiful — to discover real beauty in your life.”

Producer/Director: Thomas Piper
Director of Photography: Thomas Piper
Editors: Thomas Piper, Sara Pellegrini, Rachel Shuman and Corinne Van Der Borch
Music Composers: Davia Por Jonsson and Charles Gansa
Co-Producer: Checkerboard Film Foundation
Production Assistant: Malcolm Wyer
Associate Producers: Grace Zinnel, Chase Damon and Amanda Rosen
Featuring: Piet and Anja Oudolf, Iwan and Manuela Wirth and others
Website and Screenings:
e Zinnel, Chase Damon and Amanda Rosen
Featuring: Piet and Anja Oudolf, Iwan and Manuela Wirth and others
Website and Screenings: 

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