Taina is an environmental biologist, landscape designer, horticulturist and researcher in the Fifth Dimension – Green Roofs in Urban Areasresearch group of the University of Helsinki. She holds a BSc in Environmental Biology and a Masters degree in Environmental Change and Policy from the University of Helsinki. Her research concentrates particularly on the environmental change and policy with regard to green roofs in urban areas. She is currently working as chairperson on the Green Roof Strategy of the City of Vantaa, Finland’s fourth largest city, located in the greater Helsinki region.
Taina is considered a leading pioneer in Finland on green roofs, and she takes pride in the work in this field. She sees it as improving the quality of our lives but also as an absolute necessity in the face of the megatrend of urbanisation, with a view of preserving and supporting the biodiversity our natural environment. Taina lectures at various educational institutions on green roofs, gardening and design, and writes articles on matters relating to horticulture, gardening, landscaping and the environment. Her style of garden design is foremost a celebration of the natural, ecological biodiversity-supporting beauty of the native wild, without forgetting a touch of the more dashing elements of flowering glory in carefully selected areas of her designs.
In 2019 Taina came to the RHS Chelsea Flower Show as the first ever Finnish designer and first ever Nordic female designer with her The Roots in Finland Kyrö Garden in the Space to Grow category, for which she was awarded a Silver-gilt. After the Show, the garden was incorporated in the garden of the Finnish Embassy in Belgravia, London. Her second RHS Chelsea Flower Show garden project, The Finnish Soul Garden will feature at the Chelsea Show 2021 in May. Previously, for over 14 years Taina worked at the Chelsea Show for leading British garden designers, mainly being in charge of planting teams and plant composition, on several award-winning designs.
She is the co-initiator and landscape designer of the Greenest of the Green, internationally awarded block of flats project in Helsinki, completed in 2017. The block of flats (121) has green walls, green roofs and roof gardens, including a kitchen garden and there is a powerful idea towards communal aspects of living in a block of flats. The residents share the roof gardens for recreational purposes and grow flowers, herbs and vegetables in the garden. The housing project with its green walls and roof gardens is subject to research on the plants and environmental aspects as well as the sociological impact of the shared greenery on the community living in the building. Please read more
One of her current projects, which she is particularly proud of having been a co-initiator of, is a major housing development Kurkimoisio in Vuosaari, Helsinki, comprising five blocks of flats (350 flats). Read more. She has designed all the yards and greeneries, including green roofs, which every single block will have. There is a strong research-related approach in the development by the University of Helsinki research group. This development stems from her aforementioned project, the Greenest of the Green.
Her lastest project, open to the public in September 2020 at Belgravia, London, is the amazing Pantechnicon’s roof garden and indoor plant design. Please read more from Financial Times. She is no stranger to
London having earlier worked with Professor Nigel Dunnett’s design to create the “dreamy and magical” Barbican Centre roof garden
Taina is a member of the Executive Board of the Scandinavian Green Infrastructure Association (SGIA), since 2015. Her previous positions of trust include the a member of the Panel of Experts on Sustainable Development for the National Association of Green Environment (VYL), the Deputy Chair of the VYL (2013-2017) and the Chairperson of the Garden Builders’ Association (Puutarhanrakentajat ry) and also the Chair of Finnish Horticulturists’Association (2012-2015).
She was also a member of the Executive Committee of the Urban Diversity research project (2010-2013), coordinated by the University of Tampere and an expert for the “Deck and Roof Gardens and Green Roofs Committee” on the renewal of the RT 85-10709, Finland’s National Building Code on the subject matter.
She offers a variety of gardening-related services with dedicated professionalism, which has earned her some appropriate feedback:
“Thank you Taina – my go-to person for show garden planting – a true ecological artist with plants.” Nigel Dunnett, Professor of Planting Design and Vegetation Technology, and Director of The Green Roof Centre, University of Sheffield. BBC & RHS Show Garden, Hampton Court, London”
“Very skilled horticulturalist. Pleasant to work with and an extremely good eye for plant combinations”. Anne Hamilton, Landscape Designer Fox Gardens
“Taina is a passionate expert in gardening and landscaping. She has strong visions to improve the branch in overall but can implement small pieces of garden heavens here and now as well! Trusted colleague, business partner and friend.” Eeva Ek, CEO, Terassi Media Oy
“Taina Suonio on perehtynyt kasvillisuuden hyödyntämiseen kaupunkisuunnittelussa ja -rakentamisessa. Alallaan hän on johtavia konsultteja Suomessa ja luotettava yhteistyökumppani.” Jussi Hietalahti, CEO, J10 Architects Ltd
“Suonio and I worked together at the Chelsea Flower Show on several show gardens. Suonio was a major asset when it came to the planting of the gardens. She is extremely hard working, reliable, and very dedicated to the ‘perfect finish’. Suonio is always great fun to be around and I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend her.” David Dodd, Owner & Managing Director, The Ourdoor Room Ltd
“Taina worked with me to help with the planting of my show garden at the Chelsea Flower Show 2012. She was an incredibly dedicated and hard working… also showed the most fantastic sense of artistry when working with plants, combined with a very practical attitude.” Nigel Dunnett, Professor of planting design, University of Sheffield