A ru­ral gar­den in the Nether­lands that re­flects the nat­u­ral lines and in­her­ent fea­tures of the sur­round­ing coun­try­side


The coun­try gar­den of Tuin de Villa in the Nether­lands is an ex­er­cise in the art of the bor­rowed land­scape. Own­ers Lily and Fried Fred­erix have de­signed the five-acre plot them­selves over the past 14 years, work­ing out­wards from their villa to cre­ate a space that of­fers rich views of the land­scape be­yond, stretch­ing round from a lake on one side of the gar­den to hills of glacial mo­raine and a clus­ter of white mon­u­men­tal farms with thatched roofs on the other. The area is part of the Ooi­jpolder na­ture re­serve. As Lily puts it, “The gar­den is in the land­scape and the land­scape is part of the gar­den.”

Now, with the gar­den fully in the grip of win­ter, and frost rim­ing ev­ery blade of grass and ev­ery berry, the logic of its lay­out is laid bare. Around the house, an or­na­men­tal gar­den is ruled by the for­mal topi­ary struc­tures of yew and box, echo­ing the straight lines and sym­me­try of the neigh­bour­ing farm­land and the dyke that lies to the front of the prop­erty. The crisp knot gar­den di­rectly in front of the house is made from plain green Buxus sem­per­virens and var­ie­gated Buxus sem­per­virens ‘Ele­gans’. This way Lily and Fried can look out on an at­trac­tive, green gar­den on any given day of the year.

Be­yond the for­mal gar­dens, the lines soften and be­come more or­ganic. There are na­tive trees and shrubs dot­ted about, and mead­ow­land pro­vides pas­ture for three Ice­landic horses. To one side, stretches of an an­cient mixed hedgerow of hawthorn, black­thorn and wild rose guide the vis­i­tor to­wards a large pond and the grass gar­den be­yond. The 100-year-old hedge was lifted from farm­land dur­ing land con­sol­i­da­tion and re­lo­cated in the gar­den in 2005 with the help of de Ploeg­driever, the Dutch agri­cul­tural na­ture man­age­ment as­so­ci­a­tion. Fried cuts the hedge in or­ganic waves, and nat­u­ralised Arum mac­u­la­tum pops up be­neath it ev­ery spring.

At the fur­thest reaches of the gar­den, the for­mal­ity di­min­ishes, re­placed by the or­ganic lines of a nat­u­ral­is­tic gar­den full of tall grasses, such as Molinia, Mis­cant­hus and Pan­icum. Lily and Fried planted this part of the gar­den ten years ago, in­spired by Piet Ou­dolf, al­h­tough they also cite the Her­mannshof gar­den in Ger­many. Their soil is river clay, which means choos­ing plants that thrive in heavy ground and can

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