Reeling In The Years – Howth Golf Club

howth landscaping

I was having a rummage through some old images of plants for a little garden research last week when I stumbled across these pictures taken during my time landscaping at Howth Golf Club.

Their date stamp tells me they were taken January 22nd, 2004. Timeline-wise, I would have just completed my 2nd year in business as Donegan Landscaping and was still but 27 years of age.

If memory serves me right, I believe my time spent working on the grounds there would have been done over a two/ three-year period. And for a wee young cherub of the Irish landscaping scene at that time, to have an established and very respected name employ me to work on their front of house, was only ever a good thing to happen to me.

howth landscaping howth landscaping

As I remember it, I needed some images for an article in The Irish Entrepreneur Magazine [March 2004] and a lot of calling around eventually found me one person I knew who knew owned a digital camera.

Almost ten years on, it makes me smile every time I drive past the what was very new at the time planting to see how it and the now established avenue of Tilia cordata Greenspire trees that I planted have evolved.

Regarding the article in The Irish Entrepreneur magazine article, the first ever piece written about me, I found this scanned in section of it; the print version of which hangs framed in my bathroom to this day.

donegan landscaping, irish entrepreneur

Lucan Village Park

lucan village park (3)

Pictured Above: taken from inside, the roof structure of the gazebo at Lucan Park

As bustling places to unwind go, Lucan Village Park is an absolute gem of a spot that I cannot recommend highly enough. I’ll grant you horticulturally, it is far from the Botanic Gardens, but then what public park isn’t. And that in mind if, there were a parks leader board scored solely on we know what tasty plants are, this space would be up there with the best of them.

I was doing a composting talk in one of the local schools and with an hour to burn and my lunch box and flask in my arsenal, I was so happy I stumbled across this stunner of a little haven. I just wish I could have stayed there longer.

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Side Garden Ideas: A Fruit Tree Hedge

fruit tree hedge

I’ve already noted the fruit bush hedge, which may be worth a read before you read this; in fact, recommended you go read that and then come back here and read this, in order for this to make sense… if that makes sense 😉

Back over here… Organised but disorganised within, this was prior to an odd little bit of a garden space. Geographically, it lies to the side of the home, as versus the back or front and really, it had become a little of a no mans land that just didn’t sit right in any ones mind. There was a sort of unknown unease being there; a little like Del Boy and Rodney and the time they turned up to that funeral in the Batman and Robin costumes…. God that was funny ! Point taken.

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Fruit Hedge. Front Garden, Dublin

fruit hedge, dublin

Fruit bushes planted are nothing new. But like a very young Elvis realising his hips moved in two directions, sometimes it’s not that you can, but how. Or like that t-shirt of mine says: It’s not the winning that counts but the arsing around. In short what I’m getting at is, what rule book is to say one can’t have a hedge, upon which there grows fruit ?

Bush n 1 a dense woody plant, smaller than a tree, with many branches; shrub 2 a dense cluster of such shrubs; thicket

Hedge n 1 a row of shrubs or bushes forming a boundary.

source: Collins Dictionary Paperback fourth edition 1999

Maybe you’ll counter that with why did I ask that question ? To answer, this was planted just last week and scratching my head, I think I’ve only ever done two fruit hedges in a suburban type Dublin garden ever before. I don’t particularly know why. That said, what a beauty of a walk out ones front gate that will be, picking ambidextrously, chomping and stuffing as many red currants, black currants or gooseberries [red] as you can fit in your satchel. The way I see it, fruit bushes are in reality normal plants, just no one told them we only really really like them when they give us nice things.

Don’t crop ’em or do… to me its a bit the smarter fellows option to low maintenance time saver grow your own, without all of the getting dirty and double digging. And that has to be a good thing, right ?

In my own garden I did something similar with around 34 fruiting trees. Planted in a cul de sac to make a wee micro garden for Ella. Within that group I have 5 cherry trees that I have never picked from though they are always eaten by my neighbouring personal full-time buskers, the birds. I like to think of that as a fair barter ; and a little of the some for you some for me style of thinking. And though some garden folk may disagree with what may also be known as pests (the birds, not Ella) I’m more than happy watching her smile as Nanny’s bird comes to make sure she is eating all of her dinner.

Back to the hedge, maybe the ye olde types of pre ‘low maintenance only garden requests’ were hit badly by the gardeners fashion police. Sometimes thats no harm; Most of the 1980’s reminds me of Privot, grisilinia and a tang top wearing Sir Cliff – An entire era of bland, beige and right angles trying to appear rounded where the most exciting thing was variagation.

To me, the the merging of a non laborious grow your own with the a new funk ye olde to create a fruit hedge is lot like a glitter covered Marc Bolan relieving Sir Cliff Richard of his duties, whilst he is halfway through a chorus of we’re all going on a Summer Holiday and busting straight into the intro for 20th Century Boy. And you think to yourself, I kinda like how this new wheel works ~ even though the strategy behind it is nothing new at all. I mean pre Marc and T-Rex there was of course Jimi and The Experience ;

fruit hedge, front garden dublin

Of note:

  • this Dublin front garden is north facing. In reality, that very simply means a lesser amount of light, not no light. The fruit will grow, just not as well as it may do in the South of France.
  • the primary function of this hedge, is to be a hedge. The Brucey Bonus or bi product is that it will give you nice things to eat. And so long as we know that’s the deal, the gardeners book of how to care for a fruit bush rules do not really apply here.
  • there are over 30 plants in this hedge planted at a rate of 3 per metre squared. The 1% loss in light equals 1% loss in production equation in mind, there’ll be more than enough for everybody
  • joined in with ‘normal landscaping at the top, it looks pretty darned fine if I do sy so myself and makes a fantabulous addition to what one would most usually and very simply walk past, if it were a normal hedge.

Q’s or thoughts [?] leave a comment below or drop me a line.

Peter Donegan:

donegan landscaping

My Garden: Refreshing The Landscape

old glasshouse

I’ve got Shaken Stevens playing in my head as I look back and forth at this picture. I was never a big fan of his and should there ever be a list of things that get on my nerves, he’s definitely up there at the very top. No offence. None taken Shakin’.

To more pressing matters this was, until this week my glasshouse. Now, it is but an empty space.

If I’m honest, I felt a little guilty taking it down. There were those who said it could have been saved, salvaged or repaired. In reality, it was made of that late 1970’s Cliff Richard era mobile home/ caravan park at the time nouveau type aluminium and was til now almost a putty that could melt and bend in my hands. And whilst the two periods of severe storms had done it no favours, the bends, aches and pains missing pained me as they fell so regularly as it fell out of shape and to the point it was time for history and evolution to collide.

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In talking with Matthew Jebb, Director of Dublin’s Botanic gardens some time ago, he chatted how a landscape should evolve. Even the ye olde, as I sometimes see them, Botanical Gardens. And he says [quote – Scroll the audio player below to 20:02 minutes and take a listen.]:

Nothing is ever static. We would never say you can’t touch that bit of landscape because it’s been like that for 50 years. As in a domestic garden, if you don’t give a garden a makeover every 10 – 12 years it starts to show. It really does look a bit decrepid. You need to start digging things up, changing things around, replanting and it just freshens it up. It’s what nature does….

Based on that, or not, I didn’t feel so guilty. And in reality, it very politely looked like I just didn’t give a damn any more. Something that is far from the case. In all honesty, things simply get old. The now 1980’s glass could no longer be cleaned. The bolts were tired and disintegrated in my new würt drill bits as I attempted to fix it….

donegan gardens

I see gardens now in passing and I can tell you by the plants still existing, and their placing whether it was 1970’s or boom era planted. And just like that the cogs click. One realises how illogic holding onto your appendix is, now and that [r]evolution is good. Especially in gardening. It was logically and aesthetically time to do the honourable thing.

In my head, I have many pictures. What I see in front of me some times, irks me. It irritates my mind to the point that, for the very right reasons that you and I both knew all along, the aged old planting style has to be stripped. It may well use some of the old components – but, the end result has to look good, leaning towards damn good. And I, I don’t really do the sure that’ll do ye, it’ll be grand type mindset. Especially when it comes to gardens.

peter donegan, gardens