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Acclaimed gardener re-imagines his Pensthorpe masterpiece

PUBLISHED: 17:41 22 August 2011

Renowned garden designer Piet Oudolf and Pensthorpe head gardener Imogen Checketts at the Millennium Garden at Pensthorpe Nature Reserve. Picture by Mike Powles.

Renowned garden designer Piet Oudolf and Pensthorpe head gardener Imogen Checketts at the Millennium Garden at Pensthorpe Nature Reserve. Picture by Mike Powles.

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An internationally-acclaimed gardener has re-opened one of his earlier masterpieces at a Norfolk wildlife reserve after overseeing its extensive redesign.

The Millennium Garden at Pensthorpe Nature Reserve near Fakenham, was originally created by celebrated Dutch plantsman Piet Oudolf in 1999.

At the time, the spectacular garden was the first in the UK designed by Mr Oudolf to be open to the public, and became an important example of his work.

So when the perennials started to become overcrowded after almost a decade, the reserve’s owners invited him back to redesign the layout and oversee the replanting.

The entire one-acre plot was dug up, two thirds of the original garden was divided and replanted and the remaining third has been planted with 4,000 new plants.

The work took eight months and was carried out by one full-time gardener, one part-time helper and three volunteers who helped once a week.

The garden now has 112 different plants made up of 90 different types of perennials, 22 different types of grasses and six different types of shrubs.

After viewing the results with head gardener Imogen Checketts, Mr Oudolf said: “The quality of the garden is not only a matter of design, it depends mainly on the quality of the gardeners. Pensthorpe is proof of that.”

Deb Jordan, who co-owns Pensthorpe with her husband Bill, said: “Bill and I are so lucky to have this wonderful jewel of a garden sitting at the heart of Pensthorpe.

“Piet has masterfully redesigned the garden to make it even more special for our visitors and Imogen has worked tirelessly to carry out his new vision and plan. We are thrilled with the result.”

Pensthorpe’s Millennium garden was re-opened to the public on Saturday.

Over the past 30 years, Mr Oudolf has designed residential gardens and small parks in England, Germany, Sweden, the United States and his native Netherlands.

His style is described as being influenced by various horticultural traditions, such as the combination of Dutch formality and naturalistic planting styles.

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