Posts

Irish Examiner: WW1 Peace Garden, France

Saturday July 28th, 2018 – The Irish Examiner’s Peter Dowdall wrote an excellent piece on the Jardin de la Paix, garden of peace I am realising at Peronne Castle, France; now home to the Historial de la Grande Guerre.

A story of a Garden of Remembrance and this Irish Designer.

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The SodShow. Irish Garden Radio & Podcast. Friday October 28th

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

The SodShow. Irish Garden Radio Podcast. Friday October 28th (mp3)

The SodShow – with Peter Donegan & Brian Greene – Every Friday 3pm – Live

brian greene, peter donegan

Listen to The SodShow Live @ 3pm:

  • Tune in: 103.2fm on your radio dial if you are in the Dublin area
  • Listen live online: every Friday 3pm via TuneIn.com – on your phone or desktop

With thanks to this weeks Guest:

Listen Later:

Making Contact:

the sodshow

About The SodShow:

The SodShow, Dublin City’s Garden Radio Show with landscape gardener Peter Donegan and armchair gardener Brian Greene airs on Dublin City FM Friday’s at 3PM.

Join Peter & Brian for an alternative view of all things outdoors with studio guests, field recordings, educational talks in a fun and unique garden radio style. With tools, plants & garden work for the week and trip to Dublin’s famous and well hidden parks & gardens the SodShow is fast growing to be a permanent fixture on Dublin’s radio dial since its launch in March 2011.

The SodShow is quite unique in that it started life as a popular podcast crossing over to live radio due to its growing demand.

Forget those Botanical Latin names (the presenters do as a rule) and roll up your sleeves. From gardening with a window box in an apartment to camping at oxegen, from chitting potatoes to making elderflower champagne you get it all on Dublin’s zaniest radio show.

The Sodshow is podcasted, blogged, streamed and live tweeted to the world via its internet site: http://blog.DoneganLandscaping.com/category/podcast

The Tribesman – Gardeners Need To Talk More

peter donegan

[pic: courtesy Jennifer Farley]

As weather suitable for gardening in any format goes, last year has to be the worst on record and I think it’s fair to say that, although not by choice, a lot of gardeners had a little extra spare time on their hands.

Not content with sitting on my laurels [be dum. See what I did there…?] I started to think a little outside of the box. To be fair I had started to think outside the box sometime ago.

Delving a little into the past so as to give some context as to where I’m heading with this, I did write for The Irish Farmers Journal for a number of years. I wrote for a number of others freelance as well but without rewriting a curriculum vitae that you may wish to borrow so you can beat me with it, The IFJ was my probably my longest stay as a regular garden correspondent.

The Gardener is off on one again Mary….

Some time after I left there, I started writing my garden blog. Four years old this august, it’s made up of around two hundred of my own video’s, approximately 4,500 images and over 300 segments of audio all posted within almost 900 articles. All done in my own spare time, all written by yours truly and all on the subject matter of the great outdoors and gardening.

I’ve always had a theory that if every person in this little country of ours planted one tree today. Wouldn’t Ireland be so beautiful tomorrow.

Yeah, yeah. I’m getting there…

When last years snow kicked in all complete with a Sky News media team trying to interview a single hail stone on the edge of some motorway in Scotland, I queried where could or would a garden story ever fit in.

Well it wasn’t really the weather for gardening Pete….

Being green during weather so inclement may not be perceived as being so cool. But we who have a space  to garden shouldn’t and can’t simply pull the curtains. In the great big garden calender it doesn’t work that way.

Over a year ago Bernie Goldbach, a lecturer in social media at Tipperary Institute suggested I try podcasting. What started as talking into the tail end of my telephone over a year ago handing out various tit-bits of garden advice for five minutes  has since been branded and logo’d and has morphed slowly over that time while demand, interest and listener numbers growing.

On March 11th 2011 Dublins only garden radio show, The SodShow was borne. Hosted by Peter Donegan [that’s me] and Brian Greene, it airs live on Dublin City Fm every Friday at 3pm. The radio show is also now the podcast, which more often, surprising maybe, out shines similar shows produced by the BBC and others.

The Donegan fella is blathering away telling us how great he is again. Betcha he’s playing that Carly Simon song whilst he looks at a picture of himself….

But there’s a bigger picture here. One where we all benefit. Remember the tree dream I spoke about earlier [paragraph five] ? Remember my spiel about the snow [paragraph 1] ?

Well here’s my thinking, what if there was one more garden blog, or lots. More garden audio and video’s online. Irish ones. One from Galway even. More garden groups [see The Tribesman June 2nd 2011] What if all of a sudden everyone started talking, to the world and the wide web about their great outdoors. Wouldn’t it be brilliant for Irish gardening ?

The Jackeen may actually be making some sense….

You see there are two winners in this. Everyone. And I don’t just mean the businesses.

It’s about the gardener in Galway who has a mild dilemma with his potatoes for example. It’s about that great park you brought your family to, the time you went camping by Lough Ennell or very simple the day your daughter smiled when you grew your first pumpkin. It’s about others going there because of what you said. It may even be the man in Germany who comes to Ireland [or Galway] and stays in that campsite because of what you said.

Sometimes I think we Irish are the greatest yappaholics in the world. And we may well be. But there’s just not enough official gardening yapping going on, on the record that is. That I know there are six regular garden radio slots, not shows, in this country.

There’s a time when things must happen in gardening. There’s a time when trees sleep. There are those who know that sub zero temperatures are actually good for gardening. There’s a time as individuals we weep on a plants passing. There are things that I could have done even during the snow to make my home prettier, using plants, if even just to save some.

It may be Flirt FM or Galway Bay fm. It may just be you talking into your phone, writing a blog post or writing for the local newspaper. It may only just create a conversation that is deemed downright controversial. And when was the last time that happened in the gardening world of this green isle ?

Either or one things for sure, those who like, love and or even dislike the great outdoors, gardeners need to talk, more.

Find The SodShow in iTunes/ on the blog/ or listen live online – Fridays 3pm 103.2 Dublin City Fm.

Contact Peter Donegan

Garden Design

Last week I vented some of my frustrations out on the keyboard of my computerised typewriter. In short I think my piece can be easily summised as follows:

I’d rather get a hug from my one year old daughter than watch some big old political laundry pile churn around in the washing machine on every radio and television show, all pretty much asking which state departments whites come out whitest in the hot whites wash.

To this I know two things: I can pick up snippets of todays news on twitter in around two minutes and then I’m back in the real world. Two: the evolution of my daughters mumbles mean much more to me that of any politician.

And back to gardening…..

Hello…. My name is Peter Donegan and I am a gardener. A garden designer. A horticulturist. A landscaper….. I am the Johannes factotum of the gardening world.

And for those of you who figure out what that means, do note:

The earliest recorded versions of the phrase do not contain the second part. Indeed they are broadly positive in tone.

Thank God for wikipedia and moving swiftly on.

As always there is relevance in both of the aforementioned quotes. Because whether I am considered a gardener or a garden designer the question I am asked, most probably the most, apart from the usual about my dashing good looks…. yes Mister Potato head, I hear the panto crowd shout back, is:

I was thinking about getting something done with the garden…. how much would you charge for…. when is the best time to….?

There are a few ways of making your garden pretty-er. But to put logic to my previous writings, no matter how great a garden design may appear on paper, in order for it to be actually made a reality, it has to be realistically possible to build it. In every possible way.

Two examples: I have known of gardens were the trees, paid for and delivered, could not actually fit into the back garden. I have also met homeowners who, after paying for a garden to be designed have asked for it to be priced and realised it could never be afforded. But as The Family Fortunes buzzer resonates between my ears, I know of those gardens that I have made and been involved in that have started and finished on time, fitted the clients budget and the image they had in their head and look absolutely stunning.

In saying this I would like to note: I love a challenge. More than that, when I get to work with a client as versus for, from a behind the scenes perspective, we both end up smiling as versus the Da Vinci type benefactor and me possibly hoping she or he likes it.

As regards the best time to get the garden done. It is the time that suits you best. The calender for my planting, is quite simply done in autumn and winter. Why only as for me it means I don’t have to water the plants. Don’t  get me wrong I’ve no problem tending to my own garden it’s just for me, I feel that the plant is under less stress when temperatures are lower and it’s on the verge of going asleep for a few months. Think of it like going to Torremolinos [?] or some such holiday resort, in November as versus June.

If you are of the belief that time is money and you believe you can save yourself a few bob by doing a bit yourself. Do yourself, me and your family a favour – play to your strengths and do only what you are very good at.

I personally don’t mind if your brothers, cousins, sister in laws, dog minder is great at doing decking and is willing to do it at the weekend, but you may well be better off in the greater scheme of things saving yourself the money it might cost and not install it in the first place.

If you are looking to make something of your garden and you wish to have a go even in part by yourself. Here’s were you start.

Step 1 : Measure up the garden.

Step 2: garner some idea of the theme you want in your garden. Ensure that everything you fit into the theme after that fits it. To analagise, would you put antique furniture in a room with linoleum ? It may work, but it probably won’t.

Step 3: consider the practical wish list:

  • shed – what size and type? Brick or timber
  • washing/ clothes line – Rotary/ retractable
  • barbecue – built in or movable. Gas or coal.
  • Kids play area – Swings, slides and pits. Sand or bark mulch. Movable or resident
  • Lighting – Security or decorative. Sunken or above ground level.
  • Outdoor electricity points – where
  • water source – water butts or outdoor tap
  • Table and chairs area – Just for two or the entire Partridge family
  • Raised timber structure or Patio
  • Green waste area

I am The El Guapo

After that you are now hopefully at a point were ergonomics and some creativity is required. This is were you can choose to call somebody very talented like myself. Simple as it may sound, but as I referred to in last weeks article, it is perfectly allowed to pay for a rough ‘outline overview sketch’ and some paint by numbers type instructions of how to put the garden together. That is unless you will need to use it to apply for planning permission. Assuming that is not the case, the only suggestion I will make is that you let the gardener know how much time and what gardening tasks you are willing to spend/ do in the garden. And please be honest and realistic.

I have said this many times before, remember:

  • Know your budget limit but be realistic.
  • don’t end up with a very expensive piece of paper that will never become a creation
  • Agree all prices before your contract starts.
  • Stonework requires dry weather and plants/ lawns need water.
  • Don’t pay for contractors tools to sit in their shed on ‘down time’ and don’t end up paying a contractor to water you plants
  • You don’t have to do it all at once.
  • Gardens can be phased in over a period of time. It may take a little longer but you will get that dream.
  • Don’t be afraid to do something different
  • Quality products cost more and cheap can be often tearful rather than cheerful.

And finally – a garden is more than just some pieces of furniture or a new feature. It needs plants. Plants to suit, your soil, your space – your garden. It joins the dots, it makes intrigue in winter and spring. It is flowers on your table and a road side pollinating café for fruit trees. It can be the defining factor as to whether you will have the sound of birds chirp in your garden. It is what makes sitting in the shade reading poetry looking at the sun, cast shadows on your lawn. It is what makes the difference between a house and a home. It will be what defines you and your garden and makes it something beautiful and creative.

Honestly, I can tell you that the gardens I remember making and further to hold dear in my heart, were not those that had the power to buy a medal nor any amount of awards – money, size, and style aside – but those within the journey of which I and the person who would live with the garden after, smiled.

Weeds

I tend to speak out loud when I’m typing. Like a sort of narrated muttering reeling inside my head for approximately eight hundred plus words that you read every week. The relevance of me explaining that as a sort of pre -requisite…?

This week has been a tough physical week in the great outdoors.

When I typed that line first, a second and finally a third time, I pressed the backspace key and deleted it over and again before I actually allowed it to work without my emphasis on a grunging groan when it came to the word great.

The voice, my voice continues to reverberate around in my head….

What’s great about it Peter…?

I’m asking myself. I’m plundering into the keyboard, present tense, almost poking it in the chest as if to provoke it into a hypothetical gardeners bar room brawl.

You’ve been bottom up and head down all week in a garden….

I’ve paused….

Garden ? That’s what you call it ? Great ? You are sir officially off your rocker.

Let me break this down for you and give a little perspective on the week just passed. My Client and good friend I’m proud to say, Michael has greeted me every morning with the words

Have you found the lion and the tiger yet…. ?

That is how bad the weeds were. Were. Past tense. In short and not to be insulting in any way to a client and its owner, but the snow and prolonged sub zero temperatures had come and have thank you very much, gone. Like relations that came to visit at Christmas time and stayed for two weeks, without you knowing that they had intended to do so all along, they’ve been gone a while, now. But it seems a lot of clients and garden owners had and still have held off to see if their plants would make a come back. I am glad to say some of them did. But not all.

The problem with the waiting bit, in this garden anyway, is that the strong survived and also prevailed. But in that there’s lies a greater problem because the plants that were able to start growing when the temperatures became most suitable for them to do so were the nettles, brambles and thistles. The ugly bruts.

I’m churning up the volume on the stereo now, Creedance Clearwater Revival playing full gusto and Fortunate Son’s throttle kicking in nicely. But I realise whilst doing so that the aforementioned are the bastards of the gardening world. With survival techniques like you would not believe.

When you think about it, they survived minus eighteen celsius and within a matter of weeks not reaching the teens, managed to take over an entire garden.

The solution is quite simple. One, a flame thrower. Or to achieve the same or similar effect a barrel full of chemical sprayed right over it. Then hope that the prettier survive, somehow. Not very logic in reality.

The wiser choice, the one I chose to take…. down on my hands and knees. In whatever way one wishes to look at it, it is not pretty. In the words of Kermit the Frog, it’s not easy being green, but it is the only viable solution.

I pulled the weeds away from the plants or at least where I thought there was a plant. I took the unwanted guests down in a little in height making sure to leave some leaves on them. Chemical was always going to be used. It was more a case of how and what.

I remember the days of old, weeding for my Grandmother. Taking up clods of scutch grass, beating it off a wall and knocking the soil out of it. Green as it is, I also realise that all I did was ensure that I was going to be pulling teeth from rock hard soil for ever and ever and getting nowhere extremely quickly. Not this time.

With a knapsack full of organic weedkiller, I took on the rest of the chore. And that, future tense, is the end of that…. but like the end of the Lonely Hearts Club Band, Sargeant Pepper gets a reprieve and before you know it the fairy lights are back on the tree and you can see that side of the family sitting on the couch, the tin of Roses on the floor and only the toffee ones left.

How long will they stay for this time….?

You ask yourself.

From a plants perspective and your garden. My advice and pardon the cliché’d pun, but lets call a spade a spade… If they are dead, they are dead and just like in Casablanca, they are not coming back. It is also tipping into June and just like you, I can’t be teary eyed for the rest of the year. I need to move on. I have to move. My garden deserves better. I deserve better. In the words of Sam Cooke [1963] It’s been a long time coming, but I know a change is gonna come.

Hard toil it may well be, but there are great gardeners available in this country who will take on the more hardened tasks for you, advise you and help you with a better choice of plant to fit that space. Funny how hindsight becomes greater with time. What’s even funnier, is the amount of garden owners who tell me….

I never like them palm trees in the first place.

Last weeks back break out of the way, it all becomes so very worthwhile when I get to go plant shopping next week. The great outdoors. I wouldn’t swap it for the world.