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Dan Pearson OBE

Landscape designer, horticulturalist and writer

Internationally acclaimed British landscape designer, author and plantsman, Dan Pearson, is as close to a horticultural superstar as you will find. His work for public and private clients is widely celebrated and he has received numerous accolades including Honorary Fellow of the Royal Institute of British Architects, Royal Designer for Industry in 2012, and Society of Garden Designers awards. He has designed five award-winning Chelsea Flower Show gardens including Best in Show in 2015. He writes a weekly gardening journal DIGDELVE, lectures widely and has written a number of books.

Dan's work is characterised by an innate sensitivity to place and nature

Your three favourite flowers?

Tulipa sprengeri

Laser trilobum

Malus hupehensis

Tell us about your childhood garden?

A wild, woodland garden, overgrown for 50 years before we moved there. It had previously been planted by a great enthusiast, so buried beneath the tangle and toppled trees were treasures that had survived. It was a paradise for a young gardener.

Who or what inspired your career choice?

Initially my childhood neighbour and mentor, Geraldine Noyes, an amateur naturalist and botanist who showed me that every plant has a place. Then wanting to be part of a world that bridged ecology, art and working in three dimensions, whilst learning about all the above through training as a gardener.

What is a typical day in the life of Dan?

Every day starts with a dog walk, followed by a walk around the garden. Weekdays then find me at my computer either Zooming my design team or clients, working on planting plans or heading out on site. On weekends I garden.

No garden is complete without …

A dream

Something we’d find:

· On your bedside table: Something scented

· In your flower arrangement: Something wild

· In your garden shed: A hori-hori – a Japanese weeding knife

The flaw you wish you didn’t have?

Being one-tracked

What would you be in another life?

A musician

Guiding principles?

Look, feel and take in the mood. Never impose. Touch down lightly, but do not be afraid to be bold.

Who is a horticultural hero? Or a naturalist you admire?

Horticulturally it has to be Beth Chatto. She has inspired me since childhood and I seldom choose or place a plant without thinking of her. Recently I have found the writings of Robin Wall Kimmerer mind-expanding and moving.

What is the one flower or plant you’d never plant in your garden, but don’t detest when you see others plant it?

Wisteria. I love it, but it’s too exotic and glamorous for our little house on the hill.

The courtyard garden at the Garden Museum designed by Dan

If there was a fire, and you could only keep one book on plants and flowers, what would it be?

W. J. Bean’s Trees and Shrubs. It comes in 4 volumes, though, and I’d have to grab them all.

For posterity, what would you like your work to be known for?

Connecting you to what matters and grounding you in the here and now.


Instagram: @coyotewillow


@ digdelve


Dan's Greece-inspired garden, ‘Delos’, at Sissinghurst in Kent

Quick fire: some favourite things

· Book (fiction): I seldom read fiction. A recent non-fiction favourite was English Pastoral by James Rebanks.

· Film: The Colour of Pomegranates

· Painting: A South Downs landscape by Eric Ravilious

· Smell: Balsam poplar

· Meal: Almost anything Japanese

· Travel Destination: Greece

· A cause near and dear to me: The climate crisis

· Place to go for inspiration: Japan

· A great walk near where you live: From Silbury Hill and West Kennet Longbarrow to Avebury

· Thing to collect obsessively: Snowdrops

· Museum: Sir John Soane’s Museum

· Favourite person to follow on Instagram: @dirtsuel

· Garden in the UK: Rousham

· Garden anywhere else: Federal Twist

Dan Pearson OBE
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