I am Professor of Planting Design and Urban Horticulture in the Department of Landscape at the University of Sheffield. I’m a plantsman, designer and pioneer of the new ecological approach to planting gardens and public spaces. My work revolves around the integration of ecology and horticulture to achieve low-input but high-impact landscapes that are dynamic, diverse, and tuned to nature. My work is based on decades of detailed experimental work, and widespread application in practice: I work as a designer and consultant and regularly collaborate with a wide range of other professions. My work has been widely applied in the UK and abroad. In 2016 I was appointed as an Ambassador for the Royal Horticultural Society to spearhead their ‘Greening Grey Britain’ campaign, and I’m a former Garden Club of America International Fellow. I’ve has authored and co-authored key books on water-sensitive design, SuDS, and urban rainwater management (Rain Gardens: sustainable management of rainwater in the designed Landscape (Timber Press 2007), Green Roofs (Planting Green Roofs and Living Walls (Timber Press 2003)), and Urban Landscape Planting (The Dynamic Landscape: design, ecology and management of urban naturalistic planting (Taylor & Francis 2004). I’m a regular lecturer to audiences throughout the world.
Design projects include:
- The Queen Elizabeth London Olympic Park. Since 2008 I’ve acted as principal planting design and horticultural consultant (jointly with my colleague James Hitchmough) to the London Olympic Park, working on the Games, Transition, and Legacy masterplans, and retains continued involvement as a consultant on long-term development
- The Diamond Garden, Buckingham Palace, London. New garden in the public realm, commemorating the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee and the 60th Anniversary of the Coronation, at the entrance to the Queen’s Gallery, opened June 2013. The garden combines biodiversity objectives with seating and gathering spaces for the public
- John Lewis Head Office, Victoria Street, London: Central London’s first street-side rain garden: a retrofit garden in an otherwise hard and grey environment. Opening February 2015.
- The Grovesnor Estate, London Planting Design and Biodiversity elements of the new ‘Greening Grovesnor’ Strategy (with The Landscape Agency). 2017
- Trentham Gardens, Staffordshire. Extensive new meadow and woodland gardens alongside existing landscapes by Piet Oudolf and Tom Stuart-Smith. Phase 1 implementation – April 2016
- Royal Horticultural Society Garden, Harlow Carr, Harrogate. New masterplan for the gardens with focus on innovative horticulture throughout. Completed spring 2016.
- The Barbican Centre, London. Design and replanting of the public realm ‘Barbican High Walk’ and Beech Gardens, replacing conventional plantings with low-irrigation perennial areas and dramatic colourful ‘steppe’ plantings for climate-change adaptation. Phase 1 opened summer 2015, further phases to follow
- Battersea Power Station, London. Main planting design consultant for exterior of power station building redevelopment (with LDA Design) 2016-ongoing
- Natural History Museum, Exhibition Road, London. Competition winner with Kim Wilkie to design new gardens and outdoor exhibition spaces: responsible for all aspects of planting design
- Grey to Green scheme, Sheffield. The UK’s largest retrofit SuDS scheme, replacing 1.3 km of inner city dual carriageway with rain gardens and colourful naturalistic plantings
- London Wetland Centre, Barnes, London. Royal Bank of Canada Rain Garden. 10th anniversary sustainable garden to demonstrate rain garden and water-sensitive design principles to visitors. A fully interactive garden for public education.
- Chelsea Flower Show 2011, 2012, 2013, 2017. Gold Medal award 2013. Nigel Dunnett is lead designer for the Royal Bank of Canada show gardens that showcase dramatic naturalistic plantings, and water-sensitive design concepts. In 2017 he is designing the RHS ‘Greening Grey Britain’ Garden
- Hospitalfield Arts Centre, Arbroath. New masterplan the walled garden for the Arts and Crafts house at Hospitalfield, now a contemporary Arts Centre. 2016-2017
- Dulwich College, London. Planting Design and Biodiversity Strategy for the college. 2017
- Cheapside and St Pauls. Public Realm redevelopment for City of London Corporation (with Scott Whitby Architects)