Gardening hero - Nigel Dunnett

Nigel is Professor of Planting and Urban Horticulture at the University of Sheffield.  He’s a horticulturist and designer and has pioneered innovative ecological approaches to planting gardens and public spaces that integrate ecology and horticulture to achieve beautiful and sustainable gardens.

Nigel is particularly known for his use of naturalistic and ‘meadow’ style planting schemes  in urban spaces.  These include the fabulous public planting at The Barbican, where he has used a carefully considered ‘matrix’ of low bulbs, perennials, grasses and shrubs that are adapted to their conditions and so use little water whilst giving colour and interest throughout the year.  Together with James Hitchmough, Nigel was principal planting design and horticultural consultant for The Queen Elizabeth London Olympic Park.  He has also won numerous medals at the RHS Chelsea Flower Show for show gardens, including his 2017 ‘Greening Grey Britain’ which focussed on the role of gardens in urban environments.

Rain gardens, roof gardens and living walls are a particular interest and Nigel has written and co-authored key books on these areas.  He has also designed central London’s first street-side rain garden at the head offices of the John Lewis Partnership.

Nigel’s style of planting, which he describes as ‘low-input, high-impact’, delivers continual colour and interest with minimal maintenance by using plant communities that are suited to site conditions.  It’s the perfect marriage of the decorative and sustainable and much can be learnt from it.