Piet Oudolf’s Hummelo and Antwerp

The Dutch landscape designer opened an extension to his New York High Line last year, as well as a meadow at the Hauser & Wirth art gallery in Somerset

Image: Maarten Kools

Hummelo is a tiny Dutch village. I live there with my wife Anya in a 150-year-old farmhouse on a large plot that includes my studio and garden [pictured], which is open to the public part of the year. For us, weekends are about eating good food, watching films and walking.

On Saturday I’ll get up early to run errands. I enjoy them as they involve a shopping trip to Zutphen, a beautiful medieval town about 20km away. I’ll head to the Zaadmarkt, which is not a farmers’ market as such, just a spot for local traders. I’ll buy meat from butcher Derkjan Addink, bread from organic bakery Driekant, and cheese from Pure Taste. Then I’ll head to Schaapveld to buy wine – I love a good Côtes du Rhône or Pinot Noir. Local farmers sell eggs and vegetables along the roadside and I’ll keep an eye out for asparagus, which is good at this time of year. The best farm shop in the region is Den 4akker in the hamlet of Vierakker, where I’ll stop for fresh strawberries and home-grown veg.

In the afternoon we’ll take our Manchester terrier Duffy for a walk, often for hours through the woods. Hummelo has a river landscape – open, decorative and unspoilt – and there’s no one about. It’s very beautiful, though the cows take up a lot of the space.

We often have guests staying, from people I’m collaborating with to friends such as garden designers Dan Pearson and Cassian Schmidt and American writer Rick Darke. I like cooking, though not for large numbers, so in the evening we usually take guests to De Gouden Karper. It’s the only hotel and restaurant in the village; very old-fashioned but authentic with a great atmosphere and good food. Visitors love it.


On Sunday we’ll take a day trip to Antwerp. I enjoy Hummelo’s quiet because I travel so much, but this is where we go when we feel the need to be “in the world”. It’s a great city to wander around – small and easy to navigate with wide streets, and it’s less crowded than Amsterdam. The fashion museum MoMu is wonderful and there are lots of good boutiques. We’ll head first to Dries van Noten, who is from Antwerp, then FCS which sells vintage fashion and furniture. Last time we visited, Anya bought a Chanel bracelet. Then we’ll shop randomly and stumble into things.

Despite its classical style and Jugendstil architecture, I think of Antwerp as an evolving city. There is always something new to discover, especially in the docks area. A recent find was Felix Pakhuis, a great restaurant and deli in a cool warehouse space. It has always been easy to eat well in Antwerp; one of my favourite lunch spots is De Schelp, a restaurant and fishmonger, and for dinner we’ll normally buy some fresh fish from Wit Zwart Deli. I haven’t been to The Jane yet as it’s hard to get a table, but Piet Boon – who designed it – is a friend, so I must, and its Michelin-starred chef/owner Sergio Herman is Dutch.  

On the way home we’ll stop at the Arboretum Kalmthout. I’ve visited all the classical gardens in Belgium and the Netherlands over the years, and when I’m not working I like to shop and do cultural things – but this beautiful botanical garden just outside the city has an excellent collection of hamamelis [witch hazel] and I find I can go back again and again.

In the evening we’ll settle down to a movie and sometimes watch three in one night. I collect DVDs, especially films directed by Quentin Tarantino or the Coen brothers, but I only find time to watch them in Hummelo. When I’m in New York, which I visit six times a year, I live at a very different pace.


For another green-fingered perfect weekend, see feted florist Nikki Tibbles’ London or discover why the humble garden shrub is once again turning heads.

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