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A Winters Garden

January 1, 2024

December & January are always a very quiet time in the interiors industry. So for this month’s journal, I thought I would choose a Somerset garden that has always inspired me, with its beautiful summer planting and it’s stark contrast to a beautiful wilderness in Winter.

December & January are always a very quiet time in the interiors industry. So for this month’s journal, I thought I would choose a Somerset garden that has always inspired me, with its beautiful summer planting and it’s stark contrast yet a beautiful wilderness in Winter.

Sitting at my desk in this strange betwixt Christmas and New Year period, what seems like an endless time of lazy days and long walks, mixed with too many films and much food, feels a very appropriate time to write this. A period of rest and peace before the New Year starts, reminiscent of the garden’s rest in winter, a period of hibernation and stillness, no formal structures to hold us in place or the usual timescales to bind us.

Hauser Wirth Field

The Oudolf Field at Hauser & Wirth, Bruton, Somerset

The 1.5 acre field is one of my most favourite places to visit, it more resembles a perennial meadow where you would love to run and walk through the flowers. In the summer, it is full of the vibrant colours of herbaceous perennials, and filled with wandering visitors and the voices of children playing.

Yet in winter, I have often found myself completely alone, wrapped up in gloves, scarf and hat and wellies, wandering the field with my camera.

It can even be too wet and muddy for a tripod, but it at this time of year I think the garden is at its best. The woody stems of the summer and autumn planting have dried and the flower heads have turned to hundreds of shades of cream, brown and grey.

The quietest time is always a few days before Christmas, when family plans are centermost on peoples minds and the field is almost forgotten. But those few days are the time you will find me there, wandering quietly with my camera, enjoying the tranquility, and the sound of the wind in the grasses and the rain spots in the puddles.

The beauty of this field is its bleakness in winter. The plants provides habitat and forage for winter birds and insects. Sheltering between the showers, I often sit and observe the gardens appearance.

A sea of winter planting, stripped completely of summer colour, a garden of almost entirely dead plant tissue, absent of colour, scent and growth.

Left: The dry winter skeleton of the Swamp Milkweed seedheads (Asclepias incarnata). Middle: Echinops Bannaticus seedhead. Right: Ghostly skeleton of Wallich Milk Parsley (Selinum wallichianum).

Left: Mondarda Bradburiana seedheads. Middle: Turkish Sage seedheads (Phlomis russeliana). Right: Dianthus carthusianorum.

Left: Wallich Milk Parsley (Selinum wallichianum). Middle: The russet tones of Lysimachia ephemerum. Right: Molinia caerulea.

Left: Agastache foeniculum. Middle: Aster ‘Little Carlow’. Right: Aster amellus.

Left: Eupatorium maculatum. Middle: Calamintha neputa. Right: Datisca cannabina

Whether it is viewed through misty rain or under a light frost, it is a remarkable sight. Winter is a magical time in this incredibly austere landscape, filled with seedheads and grasses, wiry blackened stems and foliage. A palette of monochrome and resilience.

Regardless of the time of year, The Oudolf Field is most definitely worth a visit.

Enjoy.