Posts

Topiary

topiary

Topiary n 1 the art of trimming trees or bushes into artificial or decorative shapes

Topiary is most probably fondly remembered in most minds for the ye olde grande gardens of the mid 19th Century. But and possibly of surprise to some, the origins of topiary date way back to the times of Julius Caesar. Over the centuries and like all things gardening [or not] there are trends and it did [and does] fall in and out of fashion. Trends aside, there is something ye olde gardener in topiary and/ or by its definition, trimming bushes, that is romantic and very much separates the can do from the cannot.

Gardening skills aside and at a point in modern life where the popularity of cutting a domestic garden hedge may be queried, it is hard to see an en mass revival of this skill. That said, it makes me quite proud that I can take the cutting of a hedge exact, straight and by line of sight to an echelon above.

The images above here are from my own garden, planted to remember my first dog Bobby. Silly as it sounds, maybe, I think he’d be quite pleased knowing that his tree wasn’t just any old shrub.

If you do fancy giving topiary a go remember:

  • practice makes perfect
  • patience is king
  • you cannot sellotape cuts made back on

For the above I used a petrol hedge cutters first, then a shears and finally a secateurs. The stages are, obviously, noted in photograph back to front.

In the above photograph I have used Thuja and in my image below you can see Buxus semprevirens [box] and Laurus nobilis [bay laurel]. If you are thinking of planting hedging or trees now is the perfect time to do so whilst temperatures are still in single figures.

More information ? Leave a comment below – or –

formal hedge

Sowing the Right Seeds

peter donegan

I went out looking for seeds this week, primarily as I had built some raised beds for a client and being that my qualifications are horticultural….. I told Mary [not her real name]

Sure Mary, of course there’s loads of stuff you can grow at this time of year….

Except when I visited my first port of call, the seed racks had been removed. I asked Jim the salesman [not his real name] what had happened…

Ah Peter…. nah we get the rep to remove the whole lot once the kids go back to school….

In conversation with another garden related business owner it seems this was the done thing.

I didn’t think people would be interested Pete….. at this time of year and all

In between all of this another client called and explained to me that she had bought seeds in a garden centre. I dropped by for a cuppa and we had a chat. The seed packets were shown to me and all appeared well until I realised one of the purchases were in fact Pumpkins. I read aloud….

Sow March, April….

Here’s the bit where I’m slightly confused.

And as I wondered the seed selling stores for myself in search of some inspiration, I saw this was not just a one off. I get the point where a sale is a sale, but why would I buy seeds, that are not sale price reduced, just in case you might ask, that I can do nothing with for six months. Pointless. But still this lady, Mary, had just spent over twenty euro on seeds.

Side-tracking ever so slightly, last year when the weather was oh so bad, I will admit that I grew Beetroot [variety boltardy] seeds on my kitchen window ledge – but that was just an experiment, albeit a messy one from an indoors perspective – to prove the back of the packet theorists entirely incorrect. The sowing time recommended as a by the way should be March to July. Whereas I sowed them in December with outside temperatures of minus eighteen celsius.

But it is to this point that I refer to the factors required for the growth of any plant.Put simply they are light, air, a suitable temperature, a suitable growing medium and water.

Knowing these is hugely significant as the elimination of any one of them will also cause the demise of any plant. In short if you prevent light getting to a plant – it will kill it. Hence and now you know why bark mulch may only somewhat prevents weeds from growing.

Back to the beets, what I had done was given the seed a suitable temperature [inside], sown the seed in compost, watered it and there was enough light in the room for it to be able to photosynthesise. I was also able to breath inside, so the air part was I assumed [correctly by the way] also take care of.

But it leads me to the point that with seeds and the packets in which they come in, it is very much the case that you can grow anything you want, at any time you wish – so long as you give the plant what it needs to grow.

To that and to an extreme hypothetical example – at the very least from an Irish perspective – should it be eighteen celsius in December I could grow Beetroots very easily. Again I refer to the back of the packet and Mary’s dilemma of having nothing to sow after all of her purchases.

The reality is I never paid attention to the back of any packet. Never. At present I have runner beans growing and for the purposes of this article I am not even going to check the recommendations as I already know I [apparently] shouldn’t have sown them about ten days ago. But if I get two pods – I’ll be a happy camper. Anything more than that and you are invited to my home for pea soup with extra added peas.

I am however smart enough to realise that there is a point where I shouldn’t push the boat too much against the tide and I know the annual getting into trouble  routine for storing seeds in the kitchen freezer is quite shortly on the horizon.

My excuse for freezing the seeds is vernalisation. A word that is more synonymous with bulbs.

Vernalisation is the acquisition of the competence to flower in the spring by exposure to the prolonged cold of winter.

Like I said it’s my excuse and I’m sticking to it. On that note bulb planting season has arrived. If you fancy doing so there are six that I recommended on The Sodshow, the garden radio show and podcast that I present.

Tulips, Daffodils, Iris, Crocus, Allium and of course the first bulb I ever purchased and grew at just seven years of age the Hyacinth.

Contact Peter Donegan

Sowing the Right Seeds, originally published in The Tribesman week Monday 5th September

The Sodcast – Episode 16

sodshow, garden podcast

The Sodshow Garden Podcast – every Friday – in iTunes, www.sodshow.com all good podcast stores.


Listen to The Sodcast in MP3 – or subscribe/ listen to the podcast in iTunes. Alternatively, subscribe to the blog and listen to them right here. Missed Episode 15 of the garden podcast ?

First Up:

Always nice to know people are listening. I got this from Bernie Goldbach who heard it all the way from the US of A. One can be inclined to forget this is the worldwide web.

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As regards garden sizes I work on….. I sincerely don’t mind what size your garden is….. as long as I am in a garden I’m happy 🙂

This Week On The Blog:

Links For The Podcast:

Images For The Podcast:

This Weeks Oddities:

Development of 3 x 40 minute colour coded self guided Tours / walks consisting of audio commentary, music and digital images which will be available to download at the visitor centre, online and also preloaded onto reusable media cards for insertion into mobile phones

And Finally:

Courtesy of @SeanMcDGrange alias Sean McDonald

It’s North Sligo. It’s mid-November. There’s a storm brewing. It’s 9 degrees. And the Ice Cream Van is here…

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And finally, finally…. There were a few people who were simply amazing the last two weeks…. those who know, know the story. Thank you. For the rest of my life you will be forever remembered.

Garden Maintenance

I have been maintaining gardens since before I was a teenager and after 10 years in business garden maintenance is still one of the services that I pride myself on. In 2007 I won the overall ALCI award for garden maintenance – in this case it was a private garden.

I provide both commercial and domestic garden maintenance outside of and including Dublin.

I find that it is the preparation prior to any gardening works taking place that ensures the relationship between you and I works best and also guarantees the best results from your budget and the time I spend with your space outdoors.

Garden Maintenance can be done by way of the following:

  • a one off garden visit
  • regular scheduled garden visits

Within a one off visit you may simply require a good honest tidy over of your space  to give it a lift for the upcoming season or you may simply require a more manicured approach to an existing outdoors to get it back to its finest appearance once again. Others simply require a helping hand to get the garden back on its rightful course where it has been let go for some time.

Services for regularly scheduled and one off visits also include:

  • additional planting to suit the season or for additional colour
  • mulching of beds and play areas
  • fertilising programme for trees, shrubs or lawns
  • grass cutting of open areas or small spaces
  • hedge cutting and shrub pruning
  • tree services
  • weed control in lawns or through existing planting and borders

Whilst some wish to complete the garden maintenance tasks themselves one can also get that little added direction and consultation. In this regard, garden maintenance schedules, checks and calenders can be put in place to suit your specific space in the great outdoors if required.

If you would like to talk with me about garden or grounds maintenance you can as always contact me via the following options.

  • by email info@doneganlandscaping.com
  • via this website: click the contact page
  • call mobile – o876594688

My qualifications:

  • Certificate in Commercial Horticulture (1996)
  • General Examination in Horticulture – Royal Horticultural Society (1997)
  • Advanced Diploma in Commercial Horticulture (1998)

The Right Time To Get The Garden Done

It must be coming into your quiet time for the oul’ gardening now…..

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Just one of the many clichés I’m on the verge of hearing more regularly now that the temperatures start to drop slightly and the evenings start to get a little shorter. The answer is more the opposite in fact.

There is a point where there are certain things that cannot be done no matter what stage of the season one is talking from, but in general the wise owls, tend to, get the ‘garden done’ in what some would consider the off season.

The reality is that with the coming of October onwards and the drop in temperatures of the seasons comes the en mass planting of trees and shrubs. Don’t get me wrong summer is fine for gardening… but when one needs to plant en mass or is planning on a budget and has the patience to place into the ground what may appear as a twig – and wait – then planting when the specimen is dormant and the sky above is willing to act as your automatic watering system ie. you do not need to water every single plant to keep it alive during the pretty decent warm summer we have just had – then logic, in gardening terms is simply just that and has been applied extremely well.

Have you ever seen someone watering plants in November…?

The other advantage is that the new plant is not competing with weeds as it tries to settle into its new home, wherever that maybe. Because essentially, weeds are plants – they simply don’t know that we don’t want them to grow there – and –  like the plants we do want to grow, both are in their over-wintering state.

Generally speaking in this context, put into the summer months, the turning of the soil in order to plant [the plants] brings with it weed seeds flourishing to the surface. Come the rise in temperatures towards the end of spring it is hoped the developing canopies of foliage will assist in reducing this problem – and therefore the competition for nutrients. A mild nipping of the tips helps here.

The question then remains – when is the best time to get the garden done? And the answer is pretty simple – whenever you wish. The question back is what do you want from your garden [?]

If one for example wishes to have a ‘not always just green garden’ ie. one where the plants come and go in and out of flower throughout the seasons; like the forsythia below that flowers on bare stems in early and mid spring – if planted in summer – then there is a wait until the following season for it to come into its own and fullest glory.


Based on last year [2009] which was a complete wash out of a summer which followed straight into an iceberg…. there was a point where freakish summer climatic  conditions meant the gardener [yours truly] had to take time to let the clothes dry out, at some point, eventually.

But this year has been quite good. I’d easily gather bbq sales were up on last year and with that summer feeling has come a rise in requests for garden make-overs, tidy-ups and manicures [with mild additions to]. The other thing noticable is that clients and potential clients started calling in June to plan for the coming ‘off season’.

Tree and hedge planting season is what it may be called for some. But what are people calling Donegan landscaping asking for ?

The requests all have planting of some form involved, but generally speaking the reason to do it, as versus the type of planting, in the off season is the fact that the couple/ family or in the case of one residential complex – the client[s] do not wish to have to water or maintain the plants once planted. A smart move, when making the most out of ones budget, as versus reducing the budget in the main season and not getting the most from the project.

It also means the planting is not trying to flower, establish and settle itself throughout a period where transpiration and growth are also a trying to take place.

It may well be the weather for you to stay inside, but for the tree, the gardener and the plants, investing wisely now may just give you the same rewards for a lot less effort come next spring and summer.

And on top of that…. there’s some hedging and really, really nice trees to be planted 😉

How does your garden grow…?

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