Dan Pearson Exhibition at the Garden Museum

As the Dan Pearson exhibition at the Garden Museum, in London, nears its close, MA student Giacomo Guzzon reflects on the designers work.

A few weeks ago I had the opportunity to visit the exhibition called ‘Green Fuse’: The work of Dan Pearson at the Garden Museum in London.

Dan Pearson is a plants-man, garden designer, writer, journalist and television-radio presenter based in London. He set up a garden design business in 1987 and now he has his own studio near Waterloo Station with five designers.

The exhibition is composed of several documents, pictures, writings and videos. The video interview projected at the exhibition was helpful to understand his approach in design and his devotion in creating calm places which have the aim to connect people with nature and encourage contemplation and self reflection.

The exhibition was small without natural light and for me a bit too dark for a garden and plants related show. I think the design of the show was not in harmony with Dan’s design, which usually evokes natural elements and forms, the genius loci of a place and the spiritual influence a design/place has on people. The show had no connections with the character of the beautiful building of the de-consecrated parish church of St Mary-at-Lambeth and instead was inside a wooden room.

On the other hand I really enjoyed discovering how much the designer cares about plants in all of his projects. He became interested in nature at a very young age and he had the opportunity to study plants in their natural environment. His studies at Wisley, Kew and Edinburgh Botanical Garden as well the contact with Beth Chatto and Christopher Lloyd reflect his plant driven design.

His wide knowledge as well passion for plants is tangible in all his accurate naturalistic planting schemes. His projects show how plants can become the main design element.

A perennial border was designed by Dan along the church façade. The border draws inspiration from the Hokkaido woodland in Japan. The planting at the time of my visit was looking good and healthy. The plants are planted in a matrix and the colour scheme was pleasant in white and green. I liked the idea of putting between the perennials some poles and allow climber plants to grow on it because it gives a vertical feature and interest to the border. The poles reflect the trees in a woodland.

It is obvious that with my previous degree in agricultural sciences my attention is very often attracted to plants and nature. I have been always very interested in botany and how plants can be used to design pleasant places. I believe that Landscape architects have a big opportunity to use plants in interesting and unusual ways. By choosing them with accuracy, dedication and knowledge you can create plantings that are beautiful and grow well as Dan showed us in his work.

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