Oudolf Garden Detroit opens on Belle Isle

A new 2.5-acre perennial garden opened this weekend on Belle Isle. It's the culmination of years of work and planning.

Oudolf Garden Detroit was the brainchild of designer Piet Oudolf, who received a letter from The Garden Club of Michigan asking for help. That became the start of more than five years of hard work by the all-volunteer Oudolf Garden Detroit Grounds Crew.

"Last year, when Mother Nature sent us all to our rooms, some of us snuck out and planted an incredible garden designed by Piet Oudolf," said Maura Campbell, Oudolf Garden Detroit Crew spokesperson.

The garden includes 32,000 hearty perennials and grasses with 90% of these plants coming from Michigan growers. This is the first public garden to incorporate all three of Oudolf's iconic planting styles: block, matrix and group planting.

"A public garden like this is needed now more than ever," said Campbell. "It offers a peaceful, beautiful and safe place to enjoy a piece of living art. It's good for the body and soul."

OGD raised $4.7 million to install the garden and design it to withstand flooding after the site experienced historic water levels in July 2019.

Detroit is very special to me, Oudolf said. However, he was unable to attend the garden opening in-person due to COVID-related travel restrictions.

The ribbon-cutting and brief remarks were given Saturday morning at the garden site in front of the Nancy Brown Peace Carillon.