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Andrew Wilson

peter donegan, andrew wilson

I have very few if any heroes in horticulture. Maybe that there didn’t exist many when I first grew seeds way back in 1981. Maybe growing up we very simply weren’t a family that did a whole lot of sitting still, Mom 😉 And that act would by default have included being seated in front of the tele visual.

When I got to an age when I could afford to buy books, that were not second hand and pre 1960’s brimmed with illustrations, as versus images, one of the first that I treated myself to was a book by Andrew Wilson. I was not aware of Andrew at the time and though there is no specific reason why I purchased the book, I can tell you that in 2004, it cost me €36.75.

In 2007 Andrew judged my Silver medal garden and in Bloom 2008 he was there again. Some Peter growing up, baby changes and almost four years later, today, fresh from The Chelsea Flower show where he was a judge for The RHS in one catgeory and in another where his garden design won Silver-Gilt and now judging at Bloom 2013, we got to meet again.

Garden merits and acclaims aside Andrew is an absolute gentleman and this Friday on The Sodshow we sit down to talk in part 1 of a 2 part show.

And if you’re maybe wondering why my head hair is a bit Olly Murs overly quiffed messed up, I had literally just crawled out of a hedge 30 minutes previous 😉 Back to gardens; I’ll return to landscaping here on the blog tomorrow, or the next day. I’ll see how dirty or clean my hands are.

The next big Q is when or if I’ll make a return to show gardening and/ or Bloom 2014. We’ll see. In the meantime, I’m gonna go for a cuppa. I’ve got a garden to finish with a tomorrow deadline and a jeep to remove much foliage from.

medal winner bloom

Seriously, But Not That Seriously

box hedge

Before I begin writing this post there are a few notes I should note.

  • horticulturists are allowed to disagree, about gardening.
  • Gardening should not be confused with world politics
  • It will never be considered that controversial
  • Gardening at any level is supposed to make you smile
  • I do not take things seriously, in my personal life. In the gardens I create yes.
  • I have never met Marie and without question, I’m sure she is a very lovely person.
  • As previously noted, this is not about world politics
  • I don’t buy the Irish Indo and haven’t bought a news paper in about 4 years.
  • I’m sure like all good newspapers, that it’s a fine read
  • I am very intelligent. In all departments, including horticulture

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Composters And The Like, In Garden Design

peter donegan, gardens

I’m sometimes hesitant to recommend composters in gardens. Partly when it comes to those spaces a little more dimensionally challenged, but more often it becomes a dilemma [or not] when it comes to gardens that are set to become a little more eloquent in their [after works are complete] appearance.

Where do you put that thing that should not be seen or just does not fit in ?

I get the point where biodiversity, wild flower meadows and potato peels not heading to landfill is the route we should all be travelling. But equally, there is a lot to be said for damn good-looking sexy gardens and I’m not too sure that hedgehogs and piles of leaves fit in with the latest Brown Thomas collection, if you get where I’m coming from.

donegan gardens

When we think back on the eloquence of 17th and 18th Century garden design the thought process was quite different from todays. The messy fellows namely the herbaceous, the vegetables and fruit gardens, were to an extent hidden. It may have been within a walled garden, behind rows of Buxus semprevirens or quite simply to the far left of the sunken garden; And though the layout did vary hither dither, the immediate view from the home was one of grandiose stately and proportionate beauty with consideration for each season in it’s very evident pre-planning.

With that in mind why, would I wish to place a grey plastic cube or other so visible within my space outdoors ?

Sometimes, the space simply just does not exist for one to fit into the great wish list. Equally there is a case where practical straight lined paths to the shed, bypassing the washing line as you go is not in any way the greatest way to showcase the prettiest in the room.

My composting area is constructed a bit like above, from pallets bolted together. I have chosen to surround the outer with a wall of Bay Laurel [Laurus nobilis] hedging – it also means masses of the herb free gratis – the dark glossy green foliage now forming the back drop for what is a bright coloured red bench. Minimal it maybe, but my garden is set on about 1 acre, allowing me a little more freedom and space to play with.

And play with it I do. It is a constant tesing ground for designs and concepts that may pop into my head…. just, to be sure, to be sure 😉

red garden furniture

Irrespective of budget and garden size, I’ve always felt the better gardens completed are those where the client divulges the full want list. This may or may not include a composting bin or other. But the trouble aesthetically, is always when one tries to squeeze something into a space after the garden has already been designed to suit.

Food for thought ?

Garden Ideas: Split Level

split level garden

I created this split on two level garden some time ago now. The one thing I love about it, is just that. Well, that and the fact that, just a couple of metres away, there is a journey to get to somewhere else that isn’t actually that far away.

Surprisingly that’s a bit of a rarity installed in the thinking behind many a gardens. In that I refer to the journey, of the imagination and the within the garden. More than that, there’s something in our Irish genetic make up that makes us want to go around that corner, to that place that feels that little further away. In garden design, that’s a good thing. That intrigue, makes a space more interesting and instills a sense of wonder that is the reason why, maybe, some gardens feel better than others as a getaway, an escape or a haven.

In reality, this garden isn’t that long. ie. from back door to back wall. But with the longest points from one angle to the other used to its best, it definitely does not feel that way.

I like to think of the setting now being slightly Rolling Stones on vinyl as versus brand spanking new shiny compact disc. Partly that has come by way of what the space pre my getting there inherited. It’s also a lot down to the new planting – which was a mixture of semi mature instant and brand spanking new youth – this giving the resulting fresh umph; A sort of looks like its been there for ages, yet extremely well maintained, with a hint of fresh. Behind the scenes however, it was a very different story that began with just a pile of clay.

Don’t they all say you 😉

two level garden

Garden Ideas: 5 Uses Of Red In Garden Design

Red in Garden Design

Although it may be considered sometimes mildly bold the use of a feature colour in garden design, when one looks back through the ages and historically we quickly realise there is absolutely nothing new to its use at all.

Red seems to resonate more with some when referring to Oriental themed type gardens – a garden style that uses a usually green or basic colour range, at least when compared to that of the olde English type herbaceous borders. Historic, avant-garde or modern-day, that it is used to lead the eye from afar or [reworded maybe] to draw one to a particular space, in its most basic explanation what it does is change entirely what would have been a pretty bland and monotone photograph.

The following examples and explanations show that there is little variance behind the theory in the usage of the colour. More than that it also shows when used correctly just how effective one colour can change the entire feel of a gardens design and your space outside.

1. The Monte Palace Tropical Gardens

red bridge

On the go since the 18th Century – The Monte Palace Tropical Gardens are one of my all time favourites ever visited. But, can you picture just how boring [?] this image might be if the red was removed ? It may well be exciting to the plants person or horticulturist like myself, from afar or when up close – but as a garden to draw one in – would it actually do that ?

2. A Red Garden Bench

red garden furniture

A stark change from The Monte Palace Gardens of Madeira but – this is the most basic format in which I have used and can show this theory – put simple, a bright colour against a neutral backdrop. A solitary garden seat that prior to was beige and appeared so, aged in appearance on a dark shaded side to the garden that very simply needed a lift. Personally, I knew I liked sitting here – but it just didn’t feel it was entirely me when it was just so bland. Can you picture the grey beige bench ? A much, much happier place to sit and have a coffee now.

3. The Red Dead Tree

red garden feature

Just like the walkway of the Monte Palace Tropical Gardens, the colour palette I used in this garden is a smooth groove from brown to yellow to green – all great neighbours on the colour wheel. What was required was something that would stand out whilst the similar coloured flowering Penstemons were not in flower, yet also compliment when they were. The red-painted dead Sophora isn’t as stark and unusual as one might think in situ – yet just enough to bolt some inspiration into a fairly solid toned plant choice colour base.

4. The Red Satellite

red satellite

Once again the colour palette here is quite close on the spectrum, but it was my recycling of my own satellite painted bright red that created the highlight in this garden. Sometimes it is the mildly unusual, highlighted, that can change the entire image of how a garden is perceived. Just imagine for a moment [once again] if you can how this garden might have looked had I chosen not to use it ?

5. The Red Exhaust Pipe Bird Feeder

red bird feeder

The exhaust pipe bird feeder – a little different, a little intrigue and whilst the planting had a little to go in order to make this image a little more picturesque, it is clear to see that yet again the neutral colour scheme is used to highlight the more unusual. Imagine if you will, that all the plants are red ? In which case I’d most likely have painted the exhaust pipe photosynthetic green.

And the more we think about it – the more we see it. Masses of green with red being used to highlight where we are intended to go towards and what it is the [beauty is in the eye of] beholder actually wants us to see. Highbury Stadium maybe an unusual one to finish off with but as an image, it proves the point – once again, just imagine if you will for a moment, should the seats be coloured green…. or see below.

More info:

highbury stadium

A bit green….

the aviva stadium

*all images by Peter Donegan.