Study trip – Barbican gardens


This month Spacehub took a study trip to the Barbican Arts Centre in the City of London to see Nigel Dunnett’s planting scheme in its summer bloom.

Nigel Dunnett, Professor of planting design, urban horticulture and vegetation technology at the University of Sheffield was tasked with redesigning the large podium deck spanning over Beech Street as the existing gardens had become over-mature and costly to maintain.

The new planting scheme was devised to thrive on a thin substrate with minimal maintenance input and be able to survive in UK weather conditions. The planting is made up of three naturalistic mixes, steppe, shrub steppe and light woodland; to respond to the levels of light and shade in the different planter locations. The mix of species gives a changing colour palette and interest throughout the year.


Left: Purple Salvia nemorosa ‘Caradonna’ and Nepeta racemosa ‘Walkers Low’ sit among drifts of yellow Phlomis russeliana and silver Lychnis coronaria ‘Alba’. Scattered heads of pink and red Armeria maritima and Knautia Macedonica are dotted through creating splashes of colour.


Left: Birch whips sitting within a matrix of evergreen grass Sesleria nitida interplanted with the upright heads of purple Allium schoenoprasum and yellow Sisyrinchium striatum.