Making places that sing is Dan Pearson’s mantra. When speaking about landscape, words like revelation and recalibrate are an endemic part of his vocabulary. Pearson’s designs are about creating a tapestry that brings the visitor closer to nature. It’s not just about the right plant in the right place; it’s about reading the landscape through looking at plants.
On Tuesday, January 30, Dan Pearson sang his song at Plant-o-rama.
Maggie’s Centres in the UK offer support for people affected by cancer at any stage. Pearson’s design for the urban garden walk to the center is a kind decompression chamber. “Confronted by the specter of cancer, people look at time differently. They walk nervously toward the centre, not knowing what the news may be. My intention was to create a garden which has interest during every part of the year…it’s about life, not about death.” Pearson
Tokachi Millennium Forest in Hokkaido, Japan was established as an environmental conservation effort. It’s called the Millennium Forest, because it is a sustainable vision for the next thousand years, which is intended to regenerate nature in the area. The Millennium Forest includes a program to educate visitors to become stewards of this piece of land and agents of ecological restoration around the planet.
That is a big mission for any designer, even Dan Pearson. Working at an unbelievably large scale is really beyond me. I often have trouble thinking holistically about my little piece of ground in Vermont. The ability to design a master plan for a massive area, create immersive experiences, change the mood by plant choices and color palettes is Pearson’s genius.
Lowther Castle was last project Pearson talked about. Lowther Castle was built by John Lowther, 1st Viscount Lonsdale in the late 17th century. James Lowther inherited the estate in 1953. He returned from World War II and said “it was a place that exemplified gross imperial decadence during a period of abject poverty.” He demolished the roof, left the castle as a shell and the forecourt became pig pens. What to do? That was Pearson’s challenge.
Unlike the Tokachi Millennium Forest, Lowther Castle is on the 30 year plan. The remnants of the castle were the inspiration for all the completed gardens. The walls and turrets inspire the shapes and textures of the gardens. The photograph above is the Arrival Courtyard planted with specimen hornbeam topiary in January 2017. Pearson described the entry garden (above), “like a chess board” echoing the towers that face it.
Dan showed a lot of plans for the different gardens he presented at Plant-o-rama. All of them were hand-drawn. “Dig Delve is an online magazine focused on the writing of garden and landscape designer Dan Pearson.” You can add your name to the contact list and read all about Late Autumn Interest, Giant Fennel, Moving Irises, The Beth Chatto Gardens, Gooseberry & Elderflower Bellini, Self Seeders, The Blossom Wood, Green Hellebore, Pumpkin Ketchup, Making Meadows, Melancholy Thistle, Geraminum pyrenaicum ‘Bill Wallis’, Sea Kale, Snake’s Head Fritillary, Nettle and Pea Shoot Soup, Narcissus, and more. I added my name.