Harlow Carr already welcomes hundreds of thousands of visitors each year, with more than 375,000 in attendance in 2015, a record year. The appointment of Dunnett marks the latest stage in the society's investment in its northernmost garden following the purchase of the Harrogate Arms in 2015.
The garden, set in a Yorkshire valley, offers a wide range of horticultural landscapes for visitors, from running and still water to woodland and wildflower meadows. Dunnett will work with the Harlow Carr teams to build on the success of the garden and further develop its distinctive identity. He will be supported by long-time collaborators The Landscape Agency.
RHS director general Sue Biggs said: "We are absolutely thrilled that such a hugely influential and innovative landscape designer is on board to develop the masterplan for RHS Garden Harlow Carr. The garden already provides an inspiring and important resource for the region and, with Nigel's proven vision and the talent already in place, Harlow Carr will be propelled to new horticultural heights and we hope, firmly established as a powerhouse on the UK visitor attraction scene."
Dunnett added: "I am very excited by this invitation to review the existing plan for Harlow Carr and carry the garden forward on its journey. It's a fascinating project as, for a relatively small space, there is huge ecological diversity already present: from the stream running almost the full length of the terrain, to the north- and south-facing valley slopes. This provides great potential for a stunning range of horticultural displays and an intense, impactful visitor experience."
From opening up the streamside planting area, to creating an inspiration zone dedicated to small gardens, the Harlow Carr masterplan forms part of a wider RHS campaign of investment in northerly gardens. It follows the acquisition in December 2015 of a fifth garden site near Salford, Greater Manchester: RHS Garden Bridgewater.