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Claire Takacs is one of the world’s leading garden photographers.

Piet Oudolf is the world's most famous garden designer. Here’s what happened when Claire visited Piet’s garden, Hummelo.

Photography © by Claire Takacs



Claire Takacs, one of the world's most in-demand garden photographers, travels the world to catch gardens at their seasonal peak, generally staying overnight (or longer) with her garden owner hosts to catch the first light of the day casting a magical glow over the garden.

Her new book, Dreamscapes, offers readers a tour through the gardens Claire has photographed, starting where it all began, at Cloudehill, Jeremy Francis’ beautiful garden in the Dandenongs. When we interviewed Claire for the Autumn 2011 issue of Garden Clinic she told us that a sunrise at Cloudehill set her on her path.



“I was doing a photography course and one of my assignments was a landscape,” explained Claire. “I thought I’d do a garden. I grew up in the Dandenongs, but had never seen Cloudehill. I’d travelled to England and in Europe and loved the gardens, but didn't realise we had anything to compare. So when I saw Cloudehill I was blown away by it and asked Jeremy if I could photograph it. That was the beginning for me. Jeremey let me into the garden at sunrise, so I had the whole place to myself. I saw the beautiful light in the garden and ever since that’s what I’ve wanted to do.”



Claire followed that epiphany and routinely wins awards for her work, which features gardens in England, Europe, Australia, New Zealand, the US and Asia. Out of all the glorious gardens displayed in the book, we’ve chosen to show you images of Piet Oudolf’s home garden Hummelo. Here’s what Claire has to say about it:

Piet Oudolf is one of the most famous and influential garden designers working in the world today. A leading figure in the New Perennial Movement, characterised by its focus on texture, structure and making the most of a plant’s life cycle, Piet is responsible for the planting on the High Line in New York City. This groundbreaking and much-loved park created on a disused rail line opened in 2009, and people have responded in an overwhelmingly positive way to Piet’s planting, which brings nature and a feeling of the wild to the highly urban Meat Packing District.



This is Piet and his wife Anja’s home garden, set in the midst of farmland near Arnhem in the eastern Netherlands. It was a bit of a dream to be there with colleague Noel Kingsbury. Noel, a hugely prolific and influential garden writer, has worked alongside Piet and been central to an increasingly international movement, bringing to the world this new style of naturalistic planting. Piet’s work, as Noel states in Planting: A New Perspective, ‘appeals not only to our love of beauty and a certain sense of order, but also to the high level of diversity and openness to dynamic change that biodiversity needs.’



It was incredible to see the much-photographed Hummelo in person, with its one-hectare (2.5 acre) garden either side of the traditional farmhouse. Irregularly shaped, clipped yew hedges border the garden and contrast with Piet’s highly innovative planting, which looked stunning in early September.

This shoot very much depended on working with light, which luckily delivered on the second morning I visited. I Ioved shooting into the light, with the morning dew glistening on the transparent grasses. It was then I could appreciate the absolute magic of this garden. It was also the perfect misty morning to use my drone to capture the setting of this iconic garden and reveal its design from a different perspective.


This is an edited extract from Dreamscapes by Claire Takacs, published by Hardie Grant Books, RRP $70, available in stores nationally.

About this article

Author: Words and pictures: Claire Takacs