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Meet a Designer: Dr. Nigel Dunnett, Sheffield, UK

By March 2, 2010November 22nd, 2011One Comment
by Susie Mattke-Robinson

Guest Blogger Susie Mattke-Robinson (MLA UMich, 2008) gives us a peek into the work of one of her favorite professors: designer, author, and educator Dr. Nigel Dunnett.

L: one of Nigel Dunnett’s Pictorial Meadows (Roundabout in Telford, UK); R: Nigel Dunnett.
Photos: L: Pictorial Meadows Seeds; R: Timber Press.

Nigel Dunnett brings artful, ecologically-informed landscape design to a world-wide audience. As a talented practitioner, author, and lecturer, Nigel uses naturalistic design to benefit human and habitat alike. His work integrates his varied background in urban horticulture, landscape design, ecology, and botany. Nigel’s numerous books and journal articles also show insightful design solutions for our current landscapes during climate change.

L: Planting Green Roofs and Living Walls book cover; R: Pictorial Meadows at the RHS Harlow Carr Garden.
Photos: L: Timber Press; R: Pictorial Meadows Seeds.

Nigel lectures internationally about sustainable landscape principles such as green roofs and rain gardens. These lectures are based on his own research and work, as professor at the University of Sheffield and Director of the Green Roof Centre. He has coauthored two best-selling books: Planting Green Roofs and Living Walls with Noël Kingsbury and Rain Gardens: Managing Water Sustainably in the Garden and Designed Landscape with Andy Clayden. These books brilliantly show the benefits of green roofs and rain gardens for all sites–not just to urban dwellers! When we build with these features, we reduce rainwater runoff, increase wildlife biodiversity, and create vibrant habitats within the larger landscape. The two books are filled with beautiful design ideas and inspiring case studies from around the world.

‘Future Nature’ Garden at the 2009 Chelsea Flower Show. Photo: Susie Mattke-Robinson.

Nigel’s most recent award-winning project was his 2009 Chelsea Flower Show garden, ‘Future Nature,’ co-designed with Adrian Hallam and Chris Arrowsmith. The garden showcased sustainable features in an urban landscape for the future. ‘Future Nature’ featured a green roof, planted creature tower, butterfly and insect mounds, a stylized brownfield, and a stormwater planter that managed rainwater and drought. Nigel’s artful planting composition dazzled both the crowd and the BBC, and the garden was awarded the silver-gilt medal by the Royal Horticultural Society.

In 2008, Nigel notably developed a series of Pictorial Meadows seed mixtures in the UK. The mixes contain select annual and perennial seeds that develop into vibrant meadows. Pictorial meadows can replace mown grass, and are planted in large swaths for a wildlife-friendly and visually stunning backdrop.

L: The planted creature tower in ‘Future Nature’; R: A closeup. Photos: L: Susie Mattke-Robinson; R: Shoot.

Nigel’s thoughtful design is timely for our changing climate. He encourages others to promote harmonious habitats, and designs with his own observant nature and enthusiasm for a better environment!

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