Wednesday, October 7, 2015


The Irish Landscape Institute PEOPLE’S CHOICE Award for Outdoor Spaces

Have you ever wondered who designed that nice playground where you take your kids at the weekend or who created the fantastic new exercise route through your local park, the one with the new tree planting?  How did the new town square come about with its smart paving, contemporary seating and fountain?  It is quite possible that the answer is a landscape architect who is a member of the Irish Landscape Institute (ILI), the body responsible for the profession of landscape architecture in Ireland.

This October, ILI celebrates the design achievements of its members with an award ceremony that recognises the contribution to the public good of Irish landscape architects.  The awards take place every two years but what is special this year is that, for the first time, the public are being asked to vote for their favourite design.  Tim Austen, ILI Vice-President says that ‘although our members are designing urban and green spaces across Ireland, their endeavours often go unrecognised.  This is partly because we are a small profession but also partly because we are shy, creative types who are not good at shouting about the good work that we are doing!’  Hence he sees this year’s awards as a great opportunity to promote the work of ILI Members.

ILI Council Member and awards organiser, Dominick Comerford agrees, saying ‘the range of projects that are up for the People’s Choice Award, displays the depth of work being undertaken by Irish Landscape Architects’.  Fellow organiser, Joanne Coughlin says that the process of voting for your favourite design could not be simpler: log on to the Awards Page at, browse the entries, and like as many as you choose!’  Dom says ‘they are all good this year and so it will be hard for people to choose, but hopefully the projects on display will be inspiring.’

A panel of Irish and international judges, independent of the ILI Membership are assessing the projects and will hand out a series of awards on the night of the ceremony.  Competition is expected to be high, but it is likely that the Peoples’ Choice Award will be the one that ILI members are most interested in.  As Tim says, ‘this is the first time we have put ourselves out there for public scrutiny in this way; it is an exciting time for our profession and we want people to know that we are the go-to-people for green and city space design in Ireland – so please vote for us!’

The ILI Awards 2015 are kindly supported by: ID2015 (Year of Irish Design) Hartecast Street Furniture, Natureplay, Enrich Environmental, Hardscape Paving, the Goethe Institut, and CEUD Centre for Universal Design.

Thursday, May 21, 2015

Irish Landscape Institute AGM 21st May 2015

The Irish Landscape Institute AGM takes place on Thursday May 21st 2015 at 6.30pm in Room F14 – Newstead Block B, School of Architecture, UCD, Dublin 14

For details, see link here:

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Barretstown & Glanbia at Bloom 2014

Monday, January 13, 2014

“STRIP” – Exposing Layers and Meaning in 21st Century Garden & Landscape Design - GLDA Seminar Feb' 2014

For a day of garden design inspiration and shared passion for all things to do with gardening and landscape design, I can recommend attending the forthcoming GLDA Seminar that will be held on February 8th 2014 at The Crowne Plaza Conference Centre Northwood.

The Garden and Landscape Designers Association have put together an unmissable line-up of speakers who share not only a breath-taking knowledge of their subject, but also a passion for what they do. 

Attention to detail is a theme that runs through the day’s line-up. Landscape Architect, Feargus McGarvey’s title is ‘Observation’ where he reflects on spatial relationships and site context that inform the design process, from concept to detail. Plantsman and garden designer, Oliver Schurmann, in his talk entitled ‘The Feeling of Space’ shares with us his passion for plants and planting design, the pleasures of seasonal transitions and the appreciation of plants on an individual level. The relationship between the plant and the designer is also important for sculptor and topiary expert Jake Hobson. In ‘The Changing Face of Topiary’ he explains how his organic topiary responds to the characteristics of each plant to create unique living sculptures. Writer historian and critic Tim Richardson, will round off the day with his thought-provoking views on modern design in ‘The New English Garden.’

Whether you have a love of plants or your interest is in garden or landscape design, this seminar will inspire and inform you.

For tickets and further information contact the GLDA office on: 01 294 0092, or  book your ticket early to avoid disappointment.

Read more on the background to the seminar:

Design styles are a rich fusion of the traditional and the contemporary. This seminar will explore the layers of ideas and meaning which influence landscape design today, bringing together designers who work at all levels of the industry from the macro to the micro, from iconic and historic landscapes on a grand scale such as the Giant’s Causeway Visitor Centre, to the design of the private garden; from plant combinations to the potential of an individual plant to impact on the landscape in a sculptural way.

The creative process that underpins good design in outdoor spaces, or in any other creativeartmay not be immediately obvious but is crucial to the finished product, separating the ‘classic’ from the ‘bling’. Inspiration comes from a myriad of sources; cultural, conceptual, symbolic, historical or futuristic and from the local landscape to the natural world. Beneath these layers are the functional considerations and the choice of materials consistent with the design, be they traditional and local, or new and innovative.

This layering of ideas becomes even more interesting and exciting when coupled with new approaches to planting: the ‘fabric’, often now being woven rather than in blocks. Words such as matrix, tapestry and stitching rest easily with this new ‘look’ – inspired by nature, and a more considered approach to ecology and maintenance.

Speakers Biographies

Feargus McGarvey (Ire) is an award winning landscape architect, garden designer and lecturer, who’s portfolio of work spans a diverse range and scale of landscape projects acrossIreland. These include private garden design commissions, to high profile public landscape design work, the most recent being theGiant’s Causeway Visitor’s Centre in Co. Antrim, with Heneghan Peng Architects, which was shortlisted for the 2013 RIBA Stirling Awards. In his position as Associate Director with Mitchell and Associates, international project work has taken him across Europe, the Middle East and China.

Feargus believes that observation of space and landscape is essential and this should follow through into how a garden / landscape designer deals with design, right from large scale landscapes through to more intimate details.

Feargus, who lives in Co Offaly, is a former President of the Irish Landscape Institute, and has authored ‘Building for Everyone’ and ‘Play Space Guidelines’. He promotes the concept of ‘Inclusive Design’ in which he says the making of diverse landscape spaces is not just about visual beauty, but more importantly, ensures usability by all kinds of people. He has more recently been guest judge for the show gardens at Bloom in thePhoenixPark,Dublin. 

Oliver Schurmann (Ire),is a garden designer, plantsman and lecturer and  has gained a reputation for creating unusual and extraordinary gardens for clients all over Ireland, as well as back in his second home Germany, where he trained in a specialist nursery. This is true especially of his show garden history, where he along with his wife Liat have achieved a series of consecutive gold and silver medals, most notably at Bloom in the Phoenix Park Dublin, and at the Hampton Court Flower Show in the UK.

As well as running his garden design and construction business, Oliver together with Liat operate Mount Venus Nursery within the old walled garden of Tibradden House, near Rathfarnham, Dublin, where they specialise in, and grow over 1600 different and unusual perennial and ornamental grass species.  Over a four year period Oliver and his team of plant experts restored this long neglected historical garden to the former glory it once enjoyed in the 50’s & 60’s.

“In my planting design schemes, I like to highlight each individual plant and flower, and to encourage my clients to enjoy the transition from full flower, to leaves fading to yellow, orange and red, to seed heads, which can be incredibly architectural and add to the planting structure throughout the winter. For me it’s important that the plants are happy, if they’re happy and thriving, and happy with their neighbours, they start creating a kind of a plant society. This develops over time into a matrix of plants and low maintenance, where there’s less necessity for a gardener to intervene”

Sculptor and self-professed pine pruning ‘nutter’ Jake Hobson (UK), who trained initially in London and then Osaka Japan, is a recognised expert in the area of cloud pruning and organic topiary. It was during his time spent in Japan that Jake developed a passion for Japanese gardens and in particular their traditional technique of training and pruning trees. What is unique about Jake’s approach to pruning is his deep understanding, passion and practice of this Japanese art form, which he now applies to all manner of conventional trees and shrubs at home, and on commissions abroad. In his book The Art of Creative Pruning (Timber Press 2011); Jake explores a wide range of imaginative, creative and funky pruning, in all shapes and sizes, from all over the world.

“I’m interested in combining the Japanese style of cloud pruning (Niwaki style) with a more European style of topiary; to create a style of pruning I call organic topiary. For me this means enhancing the natural shape of plants, as much as creating a formal volume and mass, or a sculptural style of pruning which we see in Europe. I particularly enjoy experimenting with different plants and reacting to their individual character, whether it’s their leaf size, shape or their habit.  I like the idea that as a plant I’m working on grows and develops, so too does my understanding of that plant.  I feel there’s a relationship between the plant and myself, and there’s no real defined conclusion to that relationship, it’s on an ongoing thing”

Last but by no means least, London based writer, garden/landscape historian and critic Tim Richardson (UK) is known for his enlightening, entertaining and sometimes irreverent commentary, on all matters gardening and garden design. His monthly articles written for The Garden Design Journal often have deliberately provocative and controversial  themes, with titles such as “Are ‘real gardeners’ deluding themselves in their continuing contempt of garden design”, and “Conspicuous design is a matter of taste – but how do the clients and critics react if presented with an ‘over-design’ garden?”

He is currently garden columnist for The Daily Telegraph, and regularly contributes to House and Garden, Gardens Illustrated and Country Life. He is the author of many books including Avant Gardeners and Futurescapes, English Gardens of the 20th Century, Arcadian Friends: the Makers of the English Landscape Garden, and his latest, The New English Garden. He is trustee of the Garden History Society, sits on the National Trust’s garden advisory panel, and wrote Oxford University’s first garden history course. Tim, who lives in London, is the founder-director of the Chelsea Fringe Festival. In September 2013 he joined with Martha Schwartz and Tony Heywood in setting up a new four-year diploma course in ‘Landscape art’ at Vienna University (Arts).


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