as it sounds

international garden festival

the garden that time forgot...

the garden that time forgot...

I got a call from a friend of mine on Wednesday asking me to Emo Court in Laois to take a look at a garden festival taking place there. I went but I was dubious, mainly because I thought it was just another [yes another] garden show.

We just had Chelsea, then straight to Bloom where I had my own garden to build. Now The International Garden Festival and it does not stop there?

To explain I must delve a little deeper into my hesitant negativity. With any gardenshow where awards are given, the designer has two choices; They can build an amazing garden or/ and fulfil the brief and get the medal. So often the people that are the paying visitor and the spectators can be forgotten, in that what they take away from the show and the designs they have seen. They may see gardens that are nice and symmetric and gold medalled but, they may not walk away inspired or excited. Big budgets and sponsors have their place and are necessary, but for the man who designs with his soul and borrows and builds with little or nothing, it may result in the most amazing garden that becomes so quickly forgotten as a result of ‘critics’ who feel it safer to mention those of solid gold standard in order to maintain their standards.

This exhibition however is a revelation and a breath of fresh air and I ask that you will love it and embrace it as I did. There are no medals for media critics to follow by and the reward for the designer – building a garden because you are passionate and strive to make a difference. Here I met people who liked this one or that better and the criticisms, witticisms and charms are what you ‘the customer’ takes from each garden.

The other twist is that this is not a weekend event, unlike most this actually runs from June 29th until 23rd September. So why would six French designers, one each from the USA, Australia, Germany and Italy and four Irish designers do this? And a love for what you do was the answer I was always given. Not only does one have to give up the three weeks to build the garden but also the three months to maintain it. Whilst the show is in its infancy, festival director Rosaleen Flanagan really does deserve praise for her efforts and consequently the results of her passion and drive for this festival are there to be seen. Rosaleen has secured a five year minimum deal with the Office of Public Works and Emo Court, proof enough for me. But the main reason I felt her ambition and determination was the attendance and belief in her show by three garden legends. All three; David Fountain, Chelsea gold medallist and the genius behind 4scapes.com; Andy Sturgeon of Chelsea gold fame and Stuart Sharpless owner of tadpole engineering and myself will all most likely build gardens here next year. Potty?! Whilst I did really like all of the gardens in very different ways two gardens, in my opinion, stood out from the crowd.

I have built showgardens myself and one must appreciate that my choices are solely because I saw something very different. As a spectator I felt I would love to introduce one or more elements of that design into my own garden. The first is a/maze: meeting the world designed by Rebecca Massey and Dominic Griffith, two students from UCD. My advice to you before entering this garden is to leave adulthood, mortgage rates and world leaders outside.

This is design in its purest form and I truly love it for that, which makes it so amazing. It combines a maze of international flags hanging like washing from a large family clothes line arena. The flags are so large and set in such a way that one can get lost so easily and then find little gems like a swing or the two oaks that frame the natural backdrop that is the lake of Emo. If you are fortunate enough to meet the two young designers and Dominics Mother at their garden do pass on my best. More importantly remember not to walk but to run through the garden like a child freed from school at summer time. My other favourite by Victor Moreaud and Catherine Charles is The Garden That Time Forgot. One of the many treasures of this gem are the twenty foot plus fishing rods with large red balloons attached to their ends swinging through the Irish gales. This really made me smile and if something makes you that happy then it must be good for the soul. I’ll look forward to meeting you there. Enjoy!

For more information visit The International Garden Festivals Website.

UPDATE 15th October 2007: please see this article

the vanashing trailer act

where is that trailer...?

where is that trailer...?

To some of you this article will prove worthless. I [peter donegan]hope it proves of benefit. I wrote this for the farmers journal in 2006 but as is life in the editorial world sometimes it just doesnt enter the publication. I thought it was a great article and an email from my editor some time after confirmed that too. I should put it to some benefit I suppose.

Enjoy

peter

Two months ago I purchased a ride on lawnmower, but it has never been used on any contract. I tried to buy a trailer to go with it but I couldn’t be sold one. Eventually I did buy one and it was such a nice feeling to hand over such a large amount of money for such a simple and well-built invention. The tailgate allowed us to drive up onto the back straight away but what happened to my latest acquisition? It evaporated, into thin air. I parked it at the back of the house and when I got up the next day, you guessed it in one – it was not there anymore! Magic? Mystery? I don’t think so.

When through my research for this article I put ‘trailers – stolen’ into a web search to my surprise the ‘theft of a 40-foot white box trailer and tractor unit, which was stolen from outside Irish Ferries at Dublin Port at the weekend’ was one of the headlines. Through my own sources two firms had informed me that they could not supply me with trailers of any size or form as their place of business had been cleared out of almost forty trailers within two weeks between them. It’s possible that this rapid transpiration of steel framed attachments was becoming somewhat of an epidemic. It seems the only way to prevent the theft is to make yours the most difficult to steal. Sources in the UK tell us that Trailers are being stolen to order. Logically, the obvious primary steps include installing a hitch lock, a wheel clamp and a driveway security post, but my opinion it that this is only a deterrent and that we need to go one stage further.

In the UK for any size of trailer (or anything of value to you) a system know as Thiefbeaters which involves applying a unique comprehensive identification including electronic transponders and microdots to hidden and visible locations on the trailer has been put in place. Each trailer is meticulously identified in up to 50 locations by various techniques and each location of the unique TB number is recorded. A record of the entire ID is kept along with six digital photographs. Furthermore, a registration document is produced complete with two colour photographs of each trailer they have identified.

With a 24-hour database service, this allows any police force to make necessary enquiries. A prospective purchaser of a trailer with a Thiefbeaters marking can also enquire to ensure the trailer is not reported stolen prior to any purchase. The estimated cost of which is approximately Three hundred euro.

John Friel of BDF Trailers estimates that “at least four trailers a day are taken in this country” of these John also points out that “most of the ones stolen in the south go north and vice versa”. John who with his wife Kathleen manages a business in North County Dublin also added that at present there is no company that install this tracking system in Ireland” that he is aware of.

Stolen trailers are almost impossible to recover with the main problem being that they are notoriously difficult to secure and may often have to be left unattended for long periods. It is recommend by some English insurance companies that trailers be fitted with a stolen vehicle recovery system such as ‘tracker’Tracking systems work via an electronic homing device which, when activated, emits a silent signal to dedicated equipment fitted in police cars and helicopters of every force in the UK. There are two different versions available: TRACKER Retrieve where the owner discovers the theft and TRACKER Monitor which will alert TRACKER HQ directly of any unauthorised movement, allowing them to quickly contact the owner and begin tracing. In January 2002 one UK insurance company reported their first theft of a trailer fitted with Tracker. The trailer valued at £30,000 and only 4 weeks old was recovered completely undamaged. Recorded CCTV pictures showed that the thieves entered the locked compound at 9.00pm and left with the trailer 45 minutes later. A Police aeroplane the following morning, 40 minutes after the theft had been reported, detected the Tracker signal. This trailer has since been stolen and recovered again by Tracker, 200 miles from home.So where does this leave me. I had a trailer. I now have no trailer. If I buy another trailer I could end up right back where I started. There used to be a time when a trailer could be left in a driveway or on a premise until the next time you needed it. It now appears this is something that can no more happen.

irish entrepreneur magazine

silver medal winning 'no rubber-soul'

silver medal winning 'no rubber-soul'

I just received a copy of the irish entrepreneur magazine [july/ august issue] with a delightful picture of our garden on page 58 from bloom in the park. The pictures for this were taken by Maura Hickey who on the wednesday before the June Bank Holiday event took an absolute smashing picture for the Irish Examiner newspaper. Funnily enough one of the first ever publications I featured in was entitled ‘getting dirty’ in The irish entrepreneur way back in March 2004. It can be really difficult at times to get PR especially for bulding a garden so to Maree Morrissey of the Irish Magazine a great big thanks!

To those of you who will see the picture I know it’s not what a garden designer should look like [?] but it is a good picture and one I know Ms. Hickey is quite proud of. This was also VIP night for Bord Bia the organisers of the event so hence the black tie theme – just in case you start to believe we build every garden dressed like that!

enjoy

peter

recent article in the farmers journal

good planting schemes are so important

good planting schemes are so important

The farmers journal article that I published recently caused some mild upset, rumour has it! Who’d a thought it? The guy who somewhat irregularly but regularly enough sits on the inside backpage would get a claim to fame. I know I’ve been on irish television before thanks to athena media who really made a unique minded dubliner look or a least feel a little more accepted into irish [horticultural] society!

The point of the article was that if you are going to move to old style farming country that you build a house and [here’s the important bit] either blend it into the landscape or do not touch the surrounding landscape. In a word take the existing ecosystem into consideration and try not to meddle with the balance of nature. Its seems a more mature but also new genre will move in with the big machine pull out the hedgegrows and build brand new walls and a pentagon esque style house. I personally have no problem with that but when it’s surrounded by farmland – it’s not, always, so pretty. I design gardens and some of them are a little different, but depending on the area and the surrounds depends on the fianl planting sheme of the more integral pieces of what make up a complete design.

My article go live for selfbuild.ie Ireland magazine but I’m not too sure for all from the farmers journal. Anyhow for those of you who want to hear of some farming controversy please pardon my sense of humour and enjoy below.

Slán

peter

I spent most of my not so far distant youth living in the ‘country’ and as most of you know by now where I live is still, pretty much, farmland. There is however great movement in the old town and houses are popping up just about everywhere. Speaking to a farming neighbour of mine recently, we were conversing on the topic of buildings that look so out of place within their rural setting, kids being driven to school in super jeeps, rather than walking – the usual groan over a pint. It was mentioned that he had had a recent complaint about the smell from the farm and was asked to do something about it! Conversation turned to fast cars stuck behind tractors and the frustration ‘they’ must have in their lives! We came up with the solution that ‘they’ should live on a motorway. Although the dream may have been to live in the ‘countryside’ it seems changing Ireland has changed more than I realised. No disrespect intended to any person agus Tá Fáilte Romhat go dtí Baile Bachaile. The biggest change in my eyes has to be land reclamation. The house must be bigger and so must the drains I am sure. But the hedge-grow is being removed and rather than being replaced with native species large walls take their place. Planning may have a role to play in all of this but with or without those county council departments as your say so, nature depends greatly on nature. If you are new moving to the old, please replenish and replace as nature intended or as it was before you got here. Planting season for whips and trees is almost upon us, it isn’t that expensive and if you ask nicely I’ll even tell you what to plant and when to suit your home. Get back to your roots – plant a hedge this October and as always – enjoy!

Building a garden in South Africa

garden of hope site...

garden of hope site...

Part of november will see myself and 45 others and some colleagues of mine] travel to south africa to build a garden with the Niall Mellon trust.

NB: just to clarify – the garden was designed and the build fully organised by Dominic Loughran, his garden of hope team & The Niall Mellon Township Trust.

The sponsorship for this will be paid by Peter Donegan Landscaping Ltd. Turns out the boss ain’t so bad after all. Further information is available here.

UPDATE:

The garden of hope project team have set up a weblog. If you’d like to donate tools or anything you think might be useful, make yourself famous. [when I say donate tools I dont mean in the Irish sense and post over people you don’t like]. Whilst the sponsorship/ costs for my trip have been paid by the boss I am informed that people can still give away their hard earned dollars free of charge. If your loaded and reading this you probably don’t have a shovel or know how to get it started so go ahead make yourself feel better.

My original post, on my website said 25 people, this one says 45 – I’m reliably informed it’s over 60 people involved. To those of you who have given a few bob on my behalf – It’s so much appreciated, [check comment from Dominic below] I’m very proud. The pic above is the site we will develop in one week.

Slan go foill agus go raibh míle maith agaibh.

peter