Jack Dunckley

Jack Dunckley is helping homeowners to artfully transform their gardens and outside spaces

“I like to see myself as an urban landscape architect rather than as a garden designer,” says Jack Dunckley. Having learnt his craft designing award-winning gardens at Royal Horticultural Society events, including the Chelsea Flower Show, Jack and his team now transform private gardens around the UK with contemporary outdoor living spaces and bold sculpture, all finished to exacting standards. In the words of longterm client Lord Saatchi: “Jack has a complete horticultural knowledge of plants and an outstanding management team to carry out his design concepts.”

Jack Dunckley projects range from modern roof terraces and modest gardens to complex, large-scale residential commissions, transforming gardens into multi-dimensional living spaces with sheltered seating areas, fire pits, outdoor kitchens and pergola-shaded dining terraces. His designs are punctuated with elegant, colour-themed planting, specimen trees, topiary and bespoke sculpture. “One major project in Solihull was inspired by a region of Tuscany,” he says. “It’s one of the clients’ favourite places, so we recreated the garden’s entire mood and took them to Pistoia.”

Cypress and olive trees, and drifts of lavender and rosemary, evoke the gardens of Tuscany and provide cues for the blue, purple and white planting palette. Jack had the property’s garage re-faced with tasteful dry-stone cladding to connect it with the garden and added a restful water feature. “My designs break up the areas around a house,” he says, “with some spaces for relaxation and some for more activity.”

Jack always takes charge of the consultation and design process. “I sit down with a client and help them put together a wish-list for their garden, showing them what I think they can achieve in their space.”

Taking into account the style of the house, the natural contours and existing trees, he draws up 3D-rendered illustrations and mood boards of different stones and their contrasting textures, colours and planting. “This really gives an insight into the look and feel of the new garden,” says Jack. “It also shows how the new scheme will work in harmony with the property and is geolocated for lighting accuracy.”

Once a master plan is in place, Jack starts to fill in the details, which include designing atmospheric lighting, irrigation schemes and planting. “We visit trusted suppliers to select materials and specimen trees and plants,” says Jack. “My family owned a nursery garden, so I have a huge knowledge of plants. If I am designing a roof terrace, for example, which is a very challenging environment, I tend to choose architectural plants and tropical species with good structure.”

Most of the trees he uses are sourced from Europe, particularly Italy where he buys slender cypresses for their formal elegance. “When you are planting trees, you can’t rush it through,” says Jack. “You can only plant trees at certain times of the year.”

Jack makes regular site visits to ensure his carefully planned sight-lines are working together with stepped shifts in level and perfectly positioned bespoke sculpture. He regularly collaborates with sculptor David Harber, whose light-reflective, minimal sculptures and water features sit perfectly in Jack’s minimal designs.

Bringing art into his designs has become increasingly important, as has creating one-off lighting effects. “Of course a garden has a practical function,” says Jack. “But, as a landscape architect, I am also creating a work of art.”