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