Space to grow – How our gardens and open spaces can help us achieve a liveable future.Tickets for the GLDA Seminar on Saturday 24th February are on sale now on the GLDA website.

Ton Muller is head Landscape Designer at the Municipality of Amsterdam. He works as a designer and planting expert on a wide range of complex urban projects. His work brings together themes such as biodiversity, city climate, community building and water management. More frequent hosepipe bans will ensure we will all look to have more drought tolerant gardens, but recent flooding in Ireland has pointed to the need to manage deluges to prevent costly damage.

Landscape Designer Ton Muller. Image courtesy of GLDA.

How should we green our cities on a large scale in a way that is climate-proof, sustainable, manageable, embraced by the public, and biodiverse? In a public realm that is truly public and inclusive. Working for the city of Amsterdam for over 25 years, Ton has experimented with different ways of creating green urban environments, from strategy to designing urban plantings to create more liveable spaces. Working in the public realm means dealing with the increasingly challenging conditions of our densely built cities, full of disturbance, climate extremes, low maintenance, and many restrictions and regulations.

A different approach is needed, both in strategy and choices made about plants, soil, construction, maintenance. Plants play the central role, and nature is the major inspiration. He will discuss new projects in Amsterdam, such as rain gardens, urban parks, green infrastructure schemes, and streets. These projects show habitat-based plant selection, different planting strategies for shade and sunny habitats and their evolution, and the essence of woody plants for our cities.

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Part of Ton’s work involves incorporating swales into city streets to manage surface drainage, making them an attractive feature using carefully chosen trees and planting that is layered and diverse. He likes to be led by nature, guiding plants rather than having an overly demanding maintenance program. The aim is to bring nature into the city in line with the Dutch tradition of nature-based greening and planting design.

For more than 25 years he has pioneered new habitat-based approaches to planting in public spaces and the built environment, in collaboration with urban planners, ecologists and architects. His planting plans bring life to city streets and parks making them eminently more liveable. His work undeniably adds to the sphere of knowledge of sustainable urban design, and he has valuable lessons to teach about nature-based solutions and the transformative potential of well-planned urban landscapes.

The annual GLDA seminar 2024 entitled Space to grow – How our gardens and open spaces can help us achieve a liveable future’, will take place on 24th February 2024 at the Crowne Plaza Hotel in Santry, Dublin.Tea and coffee and a hot lunch lunch will be provided.The event is organised in association with Bord Bia, organisers of Bloom. Tickets are available to purchase online at