Dan Pearson is an extraordinary garden designer with a deep understanding of the importance of making a garden appropriate to its site. On the latest Vista lecture podcast, he talks about some of his work in Britain, but the major focus of his talk is his work on the epic Millenium Forest project in Japan. Both areas of his work share in common a primary concern with first understanding the history, use, landscape, and ecology of a site.
You would think gardeners in the US would take more interest in what is happening in the rest of the world, but there still seem to be many barriers between gardeners on this continent and those in other countries. New ideas in British gardening are particularly interesting, both for their own work, and because our common language makes the wider world of European garden design more easily available to us through them. I don't mean to exclude Australia and New Zealand, but the vast seasonal differences there, ecological differences, and totally different plants seem to make close communication even more troublesome for Americans - except for our West Coast and other areas that share Mediterranean-like climates.
Dan Pearson has established a notable body of work you will probably take an immediate liking to if you're not already familiar with him. I hope you will take the time to listen to his Vista lecture at this link. If you open a second window, you can see images of most of the gardens he talks about on his web site. The podcast is also available for free download on the iTunes site.
The question & answer session, hosted by Vista sponsors Tim Richardson and Noel Kingsbury, is really fascinating, especially, for me, Noel Kingsbury's question about "randomized" plantings using mixtures of plants carefully selected for specific ecologies and sites, an area where the Germans and Swiss have pioneered creative approaches to highly attractive, easily maintained gardening.
Dan's book, The Garden: A Year at Home Farm, tells the story of his first large-scale garden design, which marks his emergence as one of the current masters of design in the UK. I recommend it to anyone with interest in the subject of garden design in tune with site and ecology.
By the way, Dan Pearson is the guest editor of the January issue of Gardens Illustrated magazine.