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GLAS Special: The GLDA reviews its 2023 Annual Seminar

Compass is the bi-annual magazine for GLDA members

Seminar focused on ‘Letting Nature In’ – Listening to the rhythm of nature and capturing its essence in the designed landscape’



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19 July 2023

The Garden and Landscape Designer Association (GLDA) Annual Seminar returned last February under the theme ‘Letting Nature In’ – Listening to the rhythm of nature and capturing its essence in the designed landscape’.

Organised in association with Bord Bia, the event was held at the Crowne Plaza Hotel in Santry, Dublin. There we hosted several expert speakers who took to the stage to examine why we should be making space for nature in our gardens and the benefits of doing so.

This year, we focused on how we should shift our attention to the essence of what makes our landscapes distinctive and how to preserve and capture the spirit and atmosphere of the garden.

Design for the landscape should always be adapted for the context of where it is located. How a deeper understanding of the existing context influences our design choices and creates better planning to protect and enhance the richness of the existing ecosystem and biodiversity.

Multi-award-winning RHS Chelsea Flower Show landscape designer and horticulturist Taina Suonio delivered a talk titled “From Finnish Novice to Award Winning Chelsea Designer – Two Decades of Passion.”

Acclaimed landscape designer Mary Reynolds presented a talk titled “Guardians, not Gardeners.” How gardeners and landscape designers are poised to be at the forefront of fighting the collapse of nature.”

Randal Plunkett, 21st Baron of Dunsany delivered a talk titled “From Gardens to budding eco systems, reedifying our concept of beauty with conservation”. Plunkett began with a small introduction to rewilding, his journey to it, presenting the problem of biodiversity now, what we need to think about in regard to nature and creating a new concept of beauty in the wild and how we fix our planet starting in our homes.

TJ Maher, creator of the beautiful Pathana Gardens in Wicklow, delivered a talk titled “Taking a Field & Making a Garden”, where he spoke about the enjoyment he gets from seeing insect and birds in his garden, and the relationship between wildlife and gardening.

Commenting on the success of the event, Mark McDowall MGLDA said: “This year’s seminar was a re-awakening! As well as a call to arms. The speakers really lit a fire in the hearts and minds of attendees.

“The strong message of environmental responsibility and the need to address climate change seriously resonated strongly with us all,” McDowall continued. “I’m sure it will inspire and galvanise a more “nature-based” approach and attitude in both project work and industry practice as we look to establish a better living environment for all.”

The GLDA is an organisation for garden designers, horticulturists, and landscape designers. Membership is open to anyone with an interest in gardens or garden design. For more information, visit:

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