as it sounds

easier gardening – garden nirvana

beautiful kinsale harbour

beautiful kinsale harbour

This was my first ever article written for The Farmers Journal. Originally entitled ‘easier gardening’ it was published under the title Garden Nirvana October 23rd 2004. The great Dr David Robinson had passed sometime before and I remeber via email noting to my Editor Matt Dempsey that having gone through such an amazing life, knowing Dr. Robinson had left a void in so many a persons rather than having simply passed through. Amazing, wonderful and always remembered.

Have a very happy Monday morning and as always enjoy!

Garden Nirvana

‘What a man needs in gardening is a cast iron back, with a hinge in it’- Charles Dudley Warner, My Summer in a Garden, 1871

One of the main factors required in Japanese gardens is that relaxation, not perspiration is the end result. Moss lawns are created, dwarf trees are planted and the use of bonsai means that the garden becomes a soulful experience rather than an uncalculated costly or potentially hospitalised one. So why do we Irish spend in excess of Euro 2.33 billion annually on horticultural products and services.

I am not suggesting that ‘no maintenance’ is attainable through using ‘The Four Universal Energies’ as a theorem principle for garden design. No maintenance is only achievable through Mr Macadam’s ingenious invention, or concrete. I am proposing that there is a balance. The rear of your home does not necessarily need to be a car park nor does it wish to be a compacted version of the rain forests.

When we decide to invest in a boundary shrub like the Leyland – not for our fruit farm in Co. Kilkenny – but for our two-bedroom townhouse in the city, surely we only have ourselves to blame. Would it not be better to invest in a garden concept that requires only one day’s labour per six months? It’s a simple theory. The longer a plant takes to become a saleable product – the more it costs – more important, the slower it grows and therefore the lower the maintenance. This is mainly due to the amount of pruning required and the amount of debris removed. The cheaper quotation in landscaping is therefore not always the answer, at least not long term.

On average spending 3% of the value of your house (wisely) should add approximately 8% – 13% to the value of your home. We generally choose for it to be the last of our agenda when ‘doing up’ the house and usually we have little money left to spend.

The garden should be a place for the heart to unwind. A simple complexion of nature is easier than complex warrants on a tight fiscal policy. The use of select stone with a simple choice of a few slow growing semi mature plants will be a higher initial investment on your property but with no grass to cut, some serenity has been inscribed in today’s diary.

I am a plant lover. I do not wish to blight my green friends with coloured stones. The truth is, sometimes it is necessary to substitute what some may consider to be hard work and an expensive (albeit rewarding) hobby for a cup of tea and a nice view from afar.

This article is not my personal epitaph or biblical manuscript that I wish to impose upon others in any way. Should the scenario be that one has a piece of land, a patch, a rented house or just does not totally enjoy (what is my equivalent to ironing and drying dishes ambidextrously) ‘the chore’ whilst breaking their spine; I believe there is a way to come up trumps and not have to breakdown on each occasion the curtains are opened and you realise koala bears have nested in your prehistoric grounds. You wont be avoiding work, just intelligently reducing your work output.

It is my strong suggestion that if you want a survey done on your house, you do call a civil engineer or architect. If you want advice, or a design for your grounds, pay for the services of a qualified horticulturalist and specify the amount of time you actually will (be honest!) spend in your garden or get an annual cost to maintenance based on their proposal.

The main ‘chore’ or cost is the lawn. Cutting it. Use a mulching mower if you must. Ride on and push (with or without gears are available). With not stopping or starting to empty the grass box at the ‘heap’ you have at the bottom of the garden – this will (by my experience and analysis) reduce your cutting time by three if not four. With a good thick edge to your lawn, which allows you to put the wheel of the mower upon it and reduces the amount of edging you need to do you are now nearing that cup of tea a little quicker. Even better, try sowing a lawn with a dwarf seed or if the area is large enough use a dwarfing agent, which is applied using a calibrated sprayer. Should the lawn be able to go? Turn the entire area to plants and bark much or plants and pebble with a black plastic beneath. Do be careful. Cheaper isn’t always the best and some maintenance will be required no matter what you do.

Don’t curse the thoughts of what should be relaxation. Reconsider and redesign. The whole key to enjoying the life outside your four walls is to make it suit your lifestyle.

flowers are driving me mad – again ?!

flowers - driving me mad?!

flowers - driving me mad?!

No Rubber Soul the garden I built in June for Bloom in the park was different? But I found this under the title ten reasons to go green via another really good ‘greener’ blog both of which are worth a dabble.

Happy Saturday and lets just hope Ireland do better than last week in the rugby today? have  a great weekend and enjoy!

peter

politics – honesty is the best policy?

peter and bertie

peter and bertie

As it’s Friday I thought a coffee break from our own tribunal of the missing 30,000 euros would cheer us up. With Mr Ahern in mind maybe honesty is the best policy?

CNN’s political ticker however may make you think slightly different. Can you imagine if Irish politicians took the same approach? We’d be laughing our socks off everyday for 30 minutes at the six o’ clock news. Enjoy this it’s so worthwhile.

Happy Friday!

the three quotes rule – [how] does it work?

it's no laughing matter

it's no laughing matter

If I asked three people to price for the supply of a motor vehicle or to be more specific, three people to price for the supply of a citroen car would I get the same price?

It cannot be until I say I want a ’03 Citroen C5 HDi, Diesel, Red in colour, 78,235 km with full service history, including exact tyre, upholstery, electrical specifications etc will the pricing system be truly fair to the three tenders and most importantly, to you the client. It is ONLY in this situation will a three quotes rule work. The same theory applies to gardens.

As with everything, there is always a lesser quality product/ service available and therefore naturally a cheaper price. The less time one plant must spend in one place whilst being maintained – the less it should cost, the smaller it is and naturally the cheaper it is. But ‘the’ plant is still being supplied?

So many times people ask me ‘to quote for doing the garden’. That is partly why I [peter donegan] charge for a call out, nee consultation with domestic clients of new. Because unless, as analagised earlier, one can tell me over the by email, phone or any other means exactly what is to be costed – only a cost to landscaping of your grounds should exist, NOT an estimate or quote.

I can price but, again to be fair to you the customer, exactly for what should be preferrable. Are the three prices for your garden singing from the same hymn sheet for exactly the same amount,quality and standard of product and finish? To ensure there is equality within pricing it is important to ensure some form of works specification is in place or/ and at least a design concept or drawing. From logic, most good practices will advise their clients to accept the better contractor whilst considering the ‘costs’ submitted.

You do get what you pay for and if you are unsure of what exactly you want don’t be afraid to pay for a professional consultation. As I’ve always said cheaper can often be more tearful than cheerful and be it garden or not, if the time is put into the preparation of your project, it will work out to be no laughing matter.

Enjoy

peter

ps. my article, never had your garden designed before may prove of benefit here.

sunday business post – new apartment size regulations

put the grass where?

put the grass where?

Sunday Business Post, Sun 9th Sept 2007, The Inquisitor Richard Curran. New apartment size regulations have come too late for many.

‘Dublin City Council has finally decided to do the right thing when it comes to regulations about the minimum size of apartments in the capital. Last week councillors voted to introduce new guidelines that will mean apartment developments will not get planning permission unless they have 25 per cent more floor space.’ Richard Curran goes on to note that ‘We already have thousands of family unfriendly apartments in Dublin’ and further tells us that ‘it is extraordinary to think that with the simple stroke of a pen and a vote they could have changed the quality of life and options available to people several years ago.’

I like Richard. I like his honesty and that he has an opinion. I like how he predicts that the governments ‘misguided’ guidlines ‘will ultimately in time be seen for the massive mess that they are.’ Somebody finally said it, in writing.

The funny thing is, that nobody has concerns over is ‘the immediate idea is to make apartment living more attractive for young families’ and also ‘that about 90% of new homes in the city will be apartmets’; where do all the people, nee the young families go when their not in their apartments ? Where is the increased green space per apartment? Where’s the grass going to go? or will the families be arrested for loitering whilst wondering where the nearest piece of grass is? Answers on a postcard to Dublin City Council.

Happy Monday

peter