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A news release from MGC website says “Piet Oudolf is coming to Detroit. Belle Isle is the perfect point of connection for residents and visitors—to the park’s amenities, the city, water and the region’s greenways. This is why Piet Oudolf has selected the land surrounding the Nancy Brown Peace Carillon for his newest public garden—in the cultural heart of Belle Isle, adjacent to the historic Conservatory, Aquarium and Remick Band Shell. The Garden Club of Michigan an affiliate of Michigan Garden Clubs of Michigan and National Garden Club spearheaded the effort to encourage Piet Oudolf to create his next garden in Detroit. In his own words, he announced, “I am coming to Detroit to make a garden… This is the most natural location for one of my public gardens.’”

Michigan Garden Clubs, Inc. donated to the development of this new public garden at Belle Isle, a state park operated by the Michigan Department of Natural Resouces, by one of the world’s premier landscape designers, Piet Oudolf. The none aligned with MGC, Inc, The Garden Club of Michigan, has been instrumental in attracting Oudolf to Detroit and Belle Isle. The Oudolf Garden, an all-volunteer group under the Belle Isle Conservancy, says an approximately two-acre garden will be installed at the cost of $3 to 4 million dollars. Planting will begin in August and September of 2019. The organization seeks donations to pay for the garden. You can donate via PayPal online at or you can mail a check made out to BIC/Oudolf Garden Detroit and mail it to Oudolf Garden Detroit c/o BIC at 300 River Place Drive, Suite 2800, Detroit, MI 48207.

Other gardens designed by Piet Oudolf (from Wikipedia)

  • Singer Laren Sculpture Garden at The Singer Laren Museum and Concert Hall in Laren, Netherlands, 2018
  • Vlinderhof Public Garden at the Máxima Park in Leidsche Rijn, Netherlands, 2014
  • London branch of Hauser & Wirth, a Swiss contemporary and modern art  gallery of Zurich, Switzerland in 2013
  • Serpentine Gallery, interior garden in Kensington Gardens, Hyde Park, Central London, England, 2011 with Peter Zumthor

    High Line Park, New York

  • High Line a 1.45-mile-long (2.33 km) elevated linear park, greenway and rail trail created on a former New York Central Railroad spur on the west side of Manhattan in New York City in 2006
  • At the Toronto Botanical Garden, the Entry Garden Walk in Toronto, Canada in 2006
  • Trentham Estate in Trentham, Stoke-On-Trent, 2004. Trentham Gardens are formal Italianate gardens, part of an English landscape park. The gardens are set within a large area of woodland which currently cover 300 acres. The gardens were designed as a serpentine park by Capability Brown from 1758, overlying an earlier formal design attributed to Charles Bridgeman. Trentham Gardens are now principally known for the surviving formal gardens laid out in the 1840s by Sir Charles Barry, which have recently been restored. In 2012 the Trentham Estate was selected as the site of a Royal Diamond Jubilee wood, and a new woodland of 200,000 native oak trees will be planted on the Estate. Successful garden designers Tom Stuart-Smith, Piet Oudolf, and Nigel Dunnett have collaborated together on the garden redesign.
  • Battery Park in New York City, 2003
  • Lurie Garden in the Millennium Park in Chicago, 2003 with Kathryn Gustafson
  • Scampston’s refurbished Walled Garden at Scampston Hall in England, 2002-2003
  • ABN Amro Bank, Netherlands, 2000
  • Hoogland in Netherlands, 2001
  • Millennium Garden at Pensthorpe Nature Reserve in Norfolk, England
  • Country Cork Garden, Republic of Ireland
  • Parts of Kurpark Bad Driburg, Germany
  • Municipal park of Enköping, Sweden.

To have such a designer of such repute is sure to make Belle Isle and even greater Michigan attraction.


drenched poppy

At my place, all water comes from a well, which makes it sound free, which isn’t. It costs electricity and wears on the pump. Watering more than the vegetable garden could make for some expensive bills. Instead, I’ve tried to develop a drought-tolerant garden. Xeriscaping means gardening with plants that require only the minimum amount of water for a particular area. It is a method used in most arid areas of the country but works well here, too.

Some plants seem to never need watering, others dry up at the first hint of heat. The trick of reducing watering in my garden was to identify and use plants adjusted to the particular weather and soil conditions here. Even here in the Great Lakes region, an ever-increasing demand for potable water affects everyone, so it makes sense to reduce the watering of lawns and gardens. Conserving this precious resource also means I waste less time on this garden chore.

At the same time that water grows precious, the easy availability of plants from nursery catalogs gives gardeners the chance to purchase almost any plant we desire. Whether or not it will survive in the garden, or how much labor it will take to make it survive is another issue. A problem many don’t learn until after a plant is placed in their garden. I plead guilty as charged, but I’m tired of wasting money, and even more exasperated about plants that don’t thrive.

How plants react to drought differs. Some wilt and die away. Some wilt and revive at dusk. Some plants such as poppies and bleeding heart go dormant until the following spring. Others have developed leaves that conserve water, and still others have deep tap roots that allow the plant to reach far into the soil for water. Isn’t up to each of us to find the plants that best conserve water within our gardens?

There are many plants that survive beautifully in this area without extra watering. Bearded iris, once finished blooming, prefer not to be watered. Daylilies (Hemerocallis), catmint (Nepeta), bee-balm (Monarda), pinks (Dianthus, and once established), cranesbill (Geranium), poppies (Papaver), moss phlox (Phlox subulata), gayfeather (Liatris), Russian sage (Perovskia), Salvia, Sedums, lamb’s ear (Stachys), Thyme, Lavender, spiderwort (Tradescantia), black-eyed-Susan (Rudbeckia), and Artemisia all survive droughts. Bulbs such as Allium, Anemone, Lillium, Muscari, Narcissus, Ranunculus, Scilla, and Tulipa don’t need summer water. Many of the decorative grasses also survive in an only rain-water garden. Once established shrubs like Rosa rugosa, Viburnum, Potentilla, and Ilex are drought-hardy, too.

All Hosta are water hogs. They love moisture, but a shade garden without hosta is a bleak place. I love to grow other moisture-lovers so I group them in one garden section which can be easily watered. Perhaps your yard has a naturally damp area where you can plant a shade garden. If not, before planting introduce compost into the soil, and once planted, keep the ground mulched. It’s amazing how long even moisture-loving plants can go without applied water in the right circumstances.

Here we have a small area of lawn. It’s in shade, and the grass is not thick and luxurious. However, it only needs cutting once or twice a year. If you have a large lawn area and don’t water it, it will go dormant and turn brown until water is available, usually in the fall. You cannot do much to xeriscape a bluegrass or fescue lawn except to learn to water it properly. That means forcing the grass to develop deep roots so it is not as sensitive to the surface soil condition. Watering frequency depends on the soil type. Lawns on sandy soils may need about one inch of water twice a week, whereas a lawn on clay soil might need an inch or so of water once a week. Empty cat food or tuna fish cans placed in the area being watered can serve as measures–when they are full, turn off the water. If you water in the early morning, it helps cut down on evaporation, letting more water get to the grass’s roots.

I’m sure With a little research in garden books, any gardener can reduce the water and labor needs of their garden while retaining its beauty. Water is precious during a drought, make sure your garden can survive my making wise plant selections now.



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