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Meet the speakers at GLDA’s 26nd annual design seminar

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

The Garden and Landscape Designers Association will host the event on 26 February



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10 February 2022

Tickets for the Garden and Landscape Designer Association (GLDA) 26th annual design seminar are now on sale.

Taking place 26 February, the seminar will see a panel of speakers discuss the role trees play in solving the climate crisis. Highly respected Irish and international experts will deliver a timely, and optimistic, message at the upcoming live-streamed seminar entitled “PLAN Trees, PLANT Trees, PLANET Trees”.

Speakers at the event include:

Henrik Sjöman: A Swedish researcher, botanist, plant hunter and scientific curator at the Gothenburg Botanic Garden, Sweden, Sjöman’s work mainly focusses on developing knowledge of site-adapted plant use for urban environments. How the capacity of different trees will vary in context to its urban environment and in delivering ecosystem services has become the prime driver in Sjöman’s work and as such how to extend the knowledge of diversifying the urban treescape. Finding “plants of tomorrow” means to combine traditional plant hunting of less common species with research and evaluation; creating a diversified approach to a resilient urban forest. Sjöman’s presentation at the GLDA seminar will address the need for greater diversification in the species of trees used in the urban landscape.

Thomas Pakenham: As Ireland’s tree expert, author and advocate for the preservation of trees, Pakenham is better placed to discuss the importance and value of trees than anyone. He founded the Irish Tree Society in 1990 to promote the conservation, planting and maintenance of trees. Pakenham has travelled the world to document extraordinary trees and is custodian of Tullynally Estate, Castlepollard, Co Westmeath where he is also the guardian of many of his own fine arboreal specimens. Pakenham’s presentation at the GLDA seminar, The Arboretum in Ireland, is an account of the evolution of tree collections in Irish gardens.

Gerald Mills: An associate professor of Physical Geography, School of Geography at UCD, for the last 30 years Mills has worked on urban climates using modelling and observations to understand how urbanisation (the transformation of the landscape) alters the atmosphere especially, but also the hydrosphere and the biosphere. Now, most of his focus is on helping to improve urban climate science globally, including establishing links with urban decision-makers. In Ireland, Mills has worked with others on the green infrastructure of Dublin and on mapping its trees. This research is ongoing and will form part of a project that will map Greenhouse gas emissions and sequestration across Ireland and especially in Dublin. He will explain more about this project at the GLDA seminar.

Thijs Dolders: Based in Utrecht, Dolders is a landscape architect and plant advisor at Ebben tree nursery. Dolders studied landscape architecture (BSc and MSc) at Wageningen University, the Netherlands. After graduating he became a junior designer at West 8 in Rotterdam. From there, he set up his own office with Mart Reiling, designing public space for exercising, sports, and recreation, based on crowd sourced app data. He also consulted on the improvement of the TreeEbb online tree selection tool, an important method to help in selecting trees. Dolders has a unique set of skills from working in both design and plant production, so he can bring to light species that are not often used and could be essential in future proofing public and private landscapes. He will discuss some of these options at the GLDA seminar.

Charlotte Harris: Harris is a garden designer and Chelsea gold medalist who, with Hugo Bugg, created Harris Bugg Studio in 2017. They were recently described by the Royal Horticultural Society as “pioneering design talents of their generation”. Their wide-ranging projects focus on the responsible use of materials, maintaining a sense of place and recognising the innate need of people to connect with nature. Harris Bugg Studio won gold for their 2021 Chelsea garden which portrayed a pocket park with robust and resilient planting and aimed to highlight the importance of beautiful and restorative green spaces in the places we need them the most – our towns and cities. Harris’s talk at the seminar is entitled “From Edible Woodlands to Rooftop Forests” and discusses how tree-planting forms a powerful and integral part of the design narrative and delivers benefits for gardens large and small.

The seminar comes against the worrying backdrop of a more than 1oC rise in global temperatures. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change has warned that global temperatures must not rise above 1.5oC. Speakers will detail how trees are the ultimate machine for carbon capture, locking away atmospheric CO2 for centuries in trunk, roots, leaves, deadwood and surrounding soils and vegetation.

The panel of experts will pose challenging but necessary questions and suggest positive actions. Can you grow small trees on your balcony or larger groups of trees in your garden? If you have already replaced your lawn with wildflowers, can you go another step and grow a small woodland? Can you get involved in a community-led project to plant more trees or protect existing trees and woodland?

The seminar will hear that rather than feeling helpless and wondering what we can do as individuals, there is something beneficial we can do for the planet: plant more trees.

Pricing for tickets, which also give access to videos of the keynote talks available on demand after the event, is as follows:

  • Full, Pre-Reg and Corporate Members & Friends of the GLDA: €60
  • Friend + 1 year subscription: €110
  • Student + 1 year membership: €45
  • Non-Member: €70

For more information and to purchase tickets please visit:

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