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Small Talk with Ingrid Smyth, chairperson, GLDA

Ingrid Smyth, GLDA

Here, Smyth talks to about getting her start in horticulture, her proudest moments, and the importance of mentorship



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1 June 2023

In association with Gardenworld Nurseries

At Growtrade, we’re kicking off a brand-new interview series titled ‘Small Talk’, where we talk to various influential members of Ireland’s horticulture trade. Our first conversation is with Ingrid Smyth, the chairperson of the Garden & Landscape Designers Association (GLDA).

How did you get your start in horticulture?

I started in design, more specifically in architecture where I worked for 17 years as an interior designer, project manager and draftsperson. I returned to study horticulture in later life in order to pursue a career in garden design and to work for myself.

What was one of the proudest moments in your career to date?

One of my goals when starting out was to gain full accreditation (MGLDA) with the Garden & Landscape Designers Association. I was awarded this in 2017 and now I am the current Chairperson of the association.

What was one of the greatest challenges you’ve faced in your career to date?

Setting up your own business is full of many challenges all of which need to be addressed.

Give us an example of a recent success you had in your work.

I have been lucky enough to be commissioned to design some very interesting gardens for equally interesting and trusting clients.

What are the greatest challenges facing the industry today?

Without a doubt the greatest challenge to the industry is to educate ourselves on the best practice relating to sustainability in everything we do and to convince our clients to follow suit.

What are the greatest opportunities facing the industry today?

Our industry can instigate meaningful change which can mitigate the challenges we face with climate change.

What advice would you give to someone just starting their career in horticulture?

No amount of study can compare to working with someone who knows their plants. I was lucky enough to serve my apprenticeship in the Walled Garden in Altamont owned by Robert Miller. I learned so much from him and I am eternally grateful for his guidance.

What are your hopes for the future of Irish horticulture?

Well paid work for the guardians of a green island full of healthy trees and plants.

Small Talk is produced in association with Gardenworld Nurseries – passionate about plants. For more visit

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