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GLAS Special: The Garden and Landscape Designers Association – grasping the nettle

The speakers at the GLDA 2019 seminar. Photo: Vincent McMonagle.

From the 2019 seminar to Bloom, Ingrid Smyth of the GLDA reviews the last 12 months of activity.



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18 July 2019

by Julia O’Reilly

Over the past 12 months, we in the design and horticulture industry have been examining our practices through the prism of habitat loss, extinction, degradation, exploitation, and climate change.

With two thirds of Ireland’s population living in urban areas, the “rewilding” of open spaces is necessary to push back against a damaging tide of concrete. The process of rewilding involves nature evolving naturally, landscapes becoming wilder, wild species playing a more prominent role in their environment, and people sharing space with the natural world, rather than fighting it.

This year’s GLDA seminar was on the topic: Gardening on the Edge – Rewilding Green Spaces. A range of gardening, design, and landscaping experts discussed rewilding and how embracing a more natural garden can help the planet.

The discussion, which was in association with Bloom by Bord Bia, highlighted the worrying World Wildlife Fund statistic that wild animal populations have plummeted by 60%.

Speakers at the event included French gardeners Thierry and Monique Dronet, who have created a remarkable garden hewn out of a former quarry and spruce plantation. Green roof expert and urban ecologist, Dusty Gedge, spoke about his instrumental role in the promotion and implementation of green infrastructure in the UK.

Texas-based landscape architect, urban planner, and writer Kevin Sloan discussed his plans to reorganise the Dallas/Fort Worth metropolitan area to allow for the development of parks and a rewilding programme. Wetland professional, Féidhlim Harty, shared his experience of building innovative and environmentally progressive wastewater treatment systems.

In November, the GLDA launched its first student and graduate design competition – the Sustainable Garden Design Challenge – to support upcoming Irish designers and raise awareness of issues like flooding and ecology while demonstrating how good design can mitigate these problems.

On behalf of the GDLA, we would like to thank Dublin City Council and our sponsors Carol Renner from Eastwise Homes and Ruth Liddle from Kildare Gallery for their support.

Congratulations to our prize-winners Kaheryna Zaihyk, winner of Best Student Concept Master Plan Design and Best Innovative Concept Detail Award 2019, and Edoardo Rebay, winner of Best Graduate Concept Master Plan Design.

Ongoing initiatives by the association continue to attract new talent. In March, GLDA Chairperson Michael O’Reilly and Vyvian White attended the Botanic Gardens Open Day to advise and encourage the next generation of designers, while our design portfolio workshops have been popular for those wanting to become full members.

The relaunch of Compass Magazine has received great support from members, sponsors, and contributors alike, and planning for the next edition is in full swing.

Bloom 2019 certainly didn’t disappoint, as two GLDA members received gold medals. Tóg go Bog é, Patricia Tyrrell’s collaboration with Cabra Community College won gold and best overall small garden, and Kevin Dennis won gold for his FBD Urban Oasis garden.

We would like to welcome our new administrator Caroline Martin, as Annette McCoy has moved onto new pastures.

Sadly, we saw the passing of our former administrator Lorraine “Koraley” Northern in May. Our thoughts are with her family.

For more information on the GLDA and membership options visit:, email:, Phone: +353 (0)85 876 0203.

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