Native plant garden, but designer

Piet Oudolf Garden from the Five Seasons Documentary

Piet Oudolf Garden from the Five Seasons Documentary

In the early days of designing my garden to qualify for the front yard recognition in Richmond Hill, I came across the idea of planting “what was meant to be”.

I loved native plants, their elegant, dainty style, but I was competitive, I needed them to perform. In my search for creating the perfect colourful meadow, I fell in love with Piet Oudolf’s work because of the show-stopping wow factor, which truly pushed the boundaries of how amazing a meadow can look – the meadow of dreams.

Piet’s designs place a large emphasis on structure and using plants that look good in all seasons to create dramatic, colourful meadows and woodlands. I scraped through his books and design sketches to compile a list of Ontario native plants with these characteristics.

Most plants are linked for your convenience to my favourite tool, the Missouri Botanical database – please note the sun and water requirements, and toxicity when placing plants in your designs. For plants listed as “spp.”, multiple species are recommended.

Plants marked with a “♥” are Piet’s favourites, and are seen in most of his installations.

Arrange your plants either in blocks of the same plant or interspersed in a grass matrix, using the grasses Sporobolus heterolepis for sun and Carex pensilvanica for shade. Recommended number of plants per meter for full coverage is indicated in the brackets next to each plant, when available.

Now you can install your very own Piet Oudolf-tier garden that is also native, promotes biodiversity, and replenishes the local seed bank.

Use the map on to find local native plant nurseries!



Aggressive native plants

Book references

Flower Palette

Achillea millefolium (9 per m2)
Actaea pachypoda or rubra (9 per m2)
Actaea racemosa ♥ (9 per m2)
Agastache foeniculum ♥ (5 per m2)
Agastache nepetoides (5 per m2)
Ageratina altissima (5 per m2)
Anaphalis margaritacea (7 per m2)
Anemone cylindrica (7 per m2)
Anemone virginiana (7 per m2)
Aquilegia canadensis (11 per m2)
Aralia racemosa (1 per m2)
Artemisia ludoviciana ‘Latiloba’ (5 per m2)
Aruncus dioicus (3 per m2)
Asarum canadense (11 per m2)
Asclepias incarnata ♥ (7-9 per m2)
Asclepias purpurascens (7-9 per m2)
Asclepias tuberosa ♥ (9 per m2)
Baptisia australis (1 per m2)
Campanula rotundifolia (7 per m2)
Chelone glabra (9 per m2)
Coreopsis tripteris (7 per m2)
Coreopsis verticillata (7 per m2)
Dalea purpurea
Echinacea spp. ♥ (9 per m2)
Erigeron annuus
Eupatorium perfoliatum (7 per m2)
Eurybia divaricata or macrophylla (7 per m2)
Eutrochium maculatum ♥ (5-7 per m2)
Filipendula rubra (3-5 per m2)
Gentiana andrewsii ♥ (9 per m2)
Geranium maculatum (9 per m2)
Geum triflorum
Gillenia trifoliata ♥ (3-5 per m2)
Helenium autumnale ‘Moerheim Beauty’ ♥ (9 per m2)
Iris versicolor (11 per m2)
Liatris spp. ♥ (11 per m2)
Lobelia cardinalis (9 per m2)
Lobelia siphilitica (9 per m2)
Lythrum alatum (9 per m2)
Maianthemum racemosum (9 per m2)
Monarda spp. ♥ (9 per m2)
Oenothera fruticosa (9 per m2)
Parthenium integrifolium (9 per m2)
Penstemon digitalis ♥ or hirsutus (9 per m2)
Phlox divaricata ♥ (11 per m2)
Phlox paniculata ♥ (9 per m2)

Polygonatum biflorum (9 per m2)
Pulsatilla nuttalliana (7 per m2)
Pycnanthemum spp. ♥ (9 per m2)
Rudbeckia fulgida (9 per m2)
Rudbeckia laciniata (5 per m2)
Silphium laciniatum (1 per m2)
Silphium perfoliatum (1 per m2)
Solidago caesia (7 per m2)
Solidago rugosa ‘Golden Rain’ (1 per m2)
Solidaster luteus (1 per m2)
Stylophorum diphyllum (9 per m2)
Symphyotrichum cordifolium ♥ (5 per m2)
Symphyotrichum ericoides (5 per m2)
Symphyotrichum laevis (7 per m2)
Symphyotrichum lateriflorus ‘Horizontalis’ (7 per m2)
Symphyotrichum novae-angliae (5 per m2)
Thalictrum pubescens (9 per m2)
Tiarella cordifolia ♥ (11 per m2)
Verbena hastata
Verbesina alternifolia (7 per m2)
Veronicastrum virginiatum ♥ (7 per m2)
Viola spp.
Zizia aurea (9 per m2)

Grass Palette

Andropogon gerardii (5 per m2)
Bouteloua curtipendula (9 per m2)
Bouteloua gracilis (9 per m2)
Carex appalachica
Carex bromoides (11 per m2)
Carex eburnea
Carex grayi
Carex muskingumensis (7 per m2)
Carex pensylvanica ♥ (11 per m2)
Deschampsia cespitosa ♥ (5 per m2)
Elymus hystrix (7-9 per m2)
Eragrostis spectabilis ♥ (9 per m2)
Koeleria macrantha (9 per m2)
Panicum virgatum (5 per m2)
Schizachyrium scoparium (5-7 per m2)
Sorghastrum nutans (5-7 per m2)
Sporobolus heterolepis ♥ (9 per m2)

Ephemeral Palette

Bulb Palette

Fern Palette

Adiantum pedatum (11 per m2)
Cystopteris bulbifera
Osmunda regalis (5-7 per m2)

Tree Palette

Shrub Palette

Vine Palette

“It may look wild, but it shouldn’t be wild. This is what you’d like to see in nature.”

Piet Oudolf

Aggressive native plants that Piet suggests to remove:

  • Horsetail
  • Plantain
  • Mint (unless it is in an isolated location)
  • Tall goldenrod varieties

Book references

Dream Plants for the Natural Garden by Henk Gerritsen & Piet Oudolf

Gardens of the High Line by Piet Oudolf & Rick Darke

Planting: A New Perspective by Piet Oudolf & Noel Kingsbury

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *