Vlinderhof Garden in Winter

I am back from my trip to the Netherlands, still reeling from a bit of jet lag, but I could not wait to download my pictures and dive into my visit to Utrecht's Maximapark and the Piet Oudolf designed garden 'Vlinderhof'.

The winter sun hangs deep in the sky during the last days of December in the Netherlands. The light from it is soft and mild. The low sunshine favors the muted hues in the garden.

The sky was bright blue. The contrast between it and the golden and bronze hues of the grasses and still erect stems of summer's spent, perennials was striking.

The combination of texture, height and color, created vibrancy in the otherwise dull world of winter.

Emerald green pathways encourage feet to wander.

Carefully situated seats encourages one to sit and listen to the wind sweep through the grasses. I was fortunate enough to arrive on a breezy day and could listen to the wind brush the grasses, much to my hearts content.

As I sat and soaked up the garden, I felt truly at peace. The Dutch deliberately use every single square inch of land available to them and all is put to good and careful use. Most landscapes are also crafted with an eye toward precision and order.

What makes the designs of Piet Oudolf so special is that while they are orderly, it is does not feel that way. Sitting on my park bench, I felt relaxed and my spirit free to wander and imagine.

I enjoyed the slight bends of the beds. Nothing sharp and straight. The bends create a visual depth, as do the perfectly placed plants to create a visual interest in height and texture.

Piet used an amazing variety of grasses. In winter, they have just the slightest changes in color, but it creates a look that beckons a mental image of what the North American prairies must look like.....but maybe....better.

To find out more about this amazing garden, click here.  What is really special about this place, is that it was planted and is now maintained by volunteers. Well done all.

Wishing all my gardening friends a 'Happy New Year' with hopes that 2016 give'th even greener thumbs.



  1. I was in France over Christmas, and like you we were incredibly lucky with the weather - bright blue skies and sunshine. Even on Christmas Day we were outside in the garden playing with the grandkids. This is ideal weather for seeing gardens like the one you described. Unlike in the USA, space is precious in most European countries and lots of places go to great lengths to look after the landscape (not all, unfortunately!). I have been following your trip on FB, and it seems like you had a great time.

    1. Hi Mark, Happy New Year! I was very impressed with how well the Dutch manage the land and I appreciate how many parks they have. I missed wild spaces though and Piet Oudolf's designs created a wonderful feeling of wild in the middle of a large, urban park. It was a wonderful trip.

  2. You are so lucky to have visited this garden. Makes me want to visit the Netherlands. Happy New Year!

    1. Happy New Year Jason! I think a trip to the Netherlands to visit the amazing gardens there...should be on your list :)

  3. I love these gardens best in the tawny season. Your words were as evocative as your photos. Thanks for sharing, and Happy New Year!

  4. Happy New Year Jenni! I would be chomping at the bit to download my pics too if I had gone on such a fabulous Christmas trip as you and our family. Maybe some day I'll go to the Netherlands to see some of those wonderful gardens.

  5. Glad you got to travel to Europe again. I have been in a few gardens like that and I am amazed at what they can do. I was in one in DC and it felt like you were in the middle of nowhere. Thanks for sharing. Glad you had safe travels.


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