James Hitchmough’s research has been centred around developing novel approaches to public planting design, that allow for the creation of rich experiences for urban people, and habitat opportunities for native biodiversity, but at the same time, be established and managed at low levels of finance, energy and other diminishing resources. This includes developing techniques to create spatially and taxonomically complex meadow-like vegetation by sowing seed in situ. His first commercial projects commenced in 1998 and culminated in his design (in conjunction with his Sheffield colleague Professor Nigel Dunnett) of the herbaceous skin that covered more than 20 ha of the London Olympic Park. Through the application of cross disciplinary perspectives, his work is intended to shift paradigms as to the very nature of what urban planting might be in the 21st century in a time of climate change, sustainability and biodiversity.
James is Head of Department and a Professor of Horticultural Ecology at the University of Sheffield. In April 2017 “Sowing Beauty” was published in which James describes his approach to naturalistic sown vegetation. He continues to travel very widely to look at semi-natural meadow vegetation in the wild, a corner stone of his thought and practice.