What’s on at the 2018 Resene Architecture & Design Film Festival
One of the many highlights of the 2018 Resene Architecture & Design Film Festival is the immersive Five Seasons, The Gardens of Piet Odoulf. The film celebrates the work of the Dutch garden designer, with much of the film shot at Odoulf’s own garden in Hummelo, in the Netherlands. As director Thomas Piper puts it, Odoulf’s garden “seems like a kind of laboratory for his most radical design ideas”.
Why are there five seasons in the film?
THOMAS PIPER It’s actually quite literal. The film follows Piet and his gardens across five continuous seasons: fall, winter, spring, summer, and then fall again. It seemed necessary to reveal just how intentionally Piet designs a garden for every season. And by starting with fall, I liked how it perverted the normal anticipation of a garden’s progression. Instead of starting with the first hints of spring and peaking with a florabundant summer, the movie spends its first 30 minutes celebrating the plants dying. The big finish is when fall has finally come back around again, which, clearly for Piet, is the true peak of a garden.
It has been said that Piet plants like a painter. What do you think that means?
I don’t really think of his plantings as painterly – more that Piet works in complete isolation, alone in his studio, sketching by hand... The aesthetic quality of his work was what drew me to him as a subject in the first place. All I really sought to do was try to recreate that ineffable experience of being in one of his gardens, which to me is similar to looking at astounding art – you can’t really describe why it’s so moving.
Why are his gardens important?
Piet is part of a lineage of ‘rediscovering’ plants, mostly perennials that were out of fashion or considered invasive or noxious, and reconnecting gardens to more natural ecosystems. I think it’s testament to how his designs really speak to people in some profound way. He’s combining an almost unparalleled knowledge of plants with an intuitive and very personal sense of composition.
We hear he’s closing his garden.
It’s sad news. Hummelo has really a singular place in all of his gardens but he has an incredible number of large public projects underway – I think he’s just looking to relax when he does get home.