Gardens Under Big Skies

Gardens Under Big Skies: Reimagining Outdoor Space, the Dutch Way by Noel Kingsbury, Photographs by Maayke de Ridde

£40 │ ISBN: 9781999734596 │ 11th November 2021

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Noel Kingsbury has been visiting The Netherlands regularly since the mid-1990s when he first met Piet Oudolf with whom he has collaborated on several books over the years. He became fascinated by the country’s rich garden culture as well as its landscape history and in the summer of 2019 criss-crossed the country in a campervan seeking out hidden gardens and interesting designers along the way. A meeting with leading photographer Maayke de Ridder, who had been researching and photographing for a book about the influence of landscape on garden design in the Netherlands, encouraged Noel to begin writing.

 “Despite the many similarities between this country and Britain (climate and the range of plants grown, to say nothing of history and culture), I felt there were subtle but distinct differences between our two garden cultures; put me in a Dutch garden and I know almost instantly that I am in The Netherlands and not back in the UK. That difference was the start of this book.” Noel Kingsbury

The Netherlands is steeped in horticultural history and its gardens have long been a place for innovation and progressive thinking, exemplified by iconic figures such as the landscape architect Mien Ruys and naturalistic plant pioneers Piet Oudolf and Henk Gerritsen. In this book, Noel Kingsbury explores how the particularities of landscape, history and culture in the Netherlands have given rise to distinctive gardens and demonstrates how a new generation of Dutch designers including Jacqueline van der Kloet, Frank van der Lieden and Arjan Boekel, are reimagining outdoor space in such a revolutionary way.

At the heart of the story is a people intimately engaged with their surroundings, as proud of the feats of engineering used to reclaim their land from the sea as they are passionate about nature and biodiversity. This creative tension is played out in their parks and gardens: a clean, pared-back aesthetic contrasts with billowing planting; water is managed and made accessible with boardwalks; and meandering paths lead to inviting outbuildings for work and relaxation. 

Gardens Under Big Skies is a joint project by two people long fascinated by the relationship between landscape and gardens in the Netherlands. These sustainable, modern, liveable outdoor spaces will appeal to forward-looking garden makers wherever they live.

Read the reviews:

‘This book is the outcome not just of garden visiting and talking to designers, but patient observation of a lot more too.’ Piet Oudolf, from the Foreword

‘’Learning to read the landscape takes time,’ says Piet Oudolf in the foreword to this erudite and fascinating new book…’ Kendra Wilson, Required Reading in Gardenista

‘The layout and organisation of material is outstanding…’ Hannah Gardner, Gardens Illustrated

‘This is an important and well-produced book that achieves that rare combination of high-quality photographs and plans with serious, analytical writing. It’s an artful ecology philosophy that presents a compelling vision for gardens of the future.’ Nigel Dunnett, RHS The Garden