Image by Eva Nemeth.
Dan's naturalistic planting schemes and intuitive use of plants, as an artist would use a water colour palette, creates an ethereal quality that few others have managed to make into their own signature style. His ethos is one which chimes loudly with our vision for The Kilmahew Estate where we aim to allow our visitors to wander from vista to vista catching wistful glimpses of natural forms and hidden architectural gems.
The landscape brief is highly complex requiring an understanding of the ancient spirit connected with the site, the imposing presence of the Castle surrounded by its semi-ancient woodlands and writhing burn, the man made Victorian pond that draws us to the Japanese planting immediately beneath the Brutal architecture of St. Peter's Seminary. Then we enter into the realm of Secret walled gardens with bygone planting schemes and turn our attention to details concerning food, sustainability and biodiversity, where hedgerows need to allow for foraging by humans and wildlife alike.
From an educational viewpoint, we have tasked Dan Pearson Studio to create multiple 'Thinking Spaces' or little pools of quietness to relax within and contemplate. Areas of sanctuary and sanctity for the post covid world we have to adapt to. We want places in which time can be shared with teachers, with friends and with family.
Taking all of these elements into consideration there really was only one candidate on our shortlist. We are honoured that Dan has agreed to work with us on creating a landscape befitting of the Kilmahew Estate.
Dan explains his thoughts and creative ideology as follows:
"We work in close collaboration with architects, designers and craftsmen on a wide range of projects, from private domestic gardens through to large rural estates, public parks and urban realm landscapes.
We consider our key strength to be ‘place making’, which comes from a responsive and integrated consideration of the site and its inherent sense of place. Designs are developed through a full dialogue with the surrounding environment, buildings and users of the space. In this way we identify the most appropriate route to arrive at simple, functional and emotionally uplifting environments.
We believe in the strength of ‘quiet structure’ - design that does not rely on self-conscious hard landscaping. This is achieved by careful integration of structural elements and considered use of local materials and building methods. Where appropriate sensitive landforming is used as a means of creating dramatic, sculptural structure without the use of hard materials. Landscaping may be inspired by geology, natural history or the local vernacular, but is honed and refined by human needs, and detailed with precision and subtlety.
The naturalistic use of plants is fundamental to the studio’s work and our experience and understanding of natural ecologies and habitats results in painterly planting schemes that express a heightened naturalism and are uniquely suited to each project. We value the ephemeral nature of gardens, and create planting schemes that reflect the natural cycles, whilst providing year round interest through use of a considered plant palette.
We aim to create timeless spaces, which encourage people to connect with nature, whilst acknowledging the tension between nature and culture. The intrinsic qualities of a site are heightened through gentle interventions that tread lightly on the land, freeing the user to engage with natural elements in a way that is seemingly unmediated, producing inspiring environments that encourage contemplation and self-reflection."