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Garden Hygiene

garden hygiene...

garden hygiene...

I remember when I was about 14 years old I’d been given this summer project of my parents front and back garden. Lopping shears, shears and my secateurs in hand I went for it.

The place had become quite overgrown. Of course when filled with plants like the Fuchsia, Forsythia, Eleagnus, Senecio, Spirea Ligustrums and the like… the types guaranteed to grow and what also would have been so popular and reticent of the 1980’s. I took them right down from about 10/12′ tall to about 2-3′. The place hadn’t been touched in ages. Within no time at all, Mom was out and I was being labelled a butcher!

One must appreciate that at this stage I had been working and reading up on my plants since I was about 5 years old and whilst I had done and been paid to do this for others…. Mom wasn’t impressed, at all! I think she liked things nice and very neatly trimmed… but never cut back for the benefit of the plant long term wise….

it left an unsightly appearance…  

The plants had become very woody. Extremely woody in fact. But as I said they are that genre. That is what this group of plants do.

The plants had grown into each other so much so that the bases of some had begun to rot. The flower quality wasn’t the greatest either and minor problems, albeit nothing that the more mature plant couldn’t cope with, had begun to appear on the foliage. Again, whilst not wasn’t such a problem for the bigger boys, the smaller more delicate plants nearby were getting a battering from insects, disease vectors and wind/ rain transferable diseases.

Garden hygiene as it is known is of great importance…

hygiene...

hygiene...

Assuming you have trees growing in your garden that will not grow to 60′ tall…. and assuming you live in a garden where that is not the case… one should prune upwards of the stem rather than ‘top’ the tree. Crown raise as it is known.

The more vigorous ‘shrubs’ should then be cut back and hard. This allows the regeneration of the new growth, the removal of dead and diseased wood from the plant and equaly as important the removal of a season long of debris falling to the base of the plant where micro climates may build up increasing the possibility of pest  and diseases.

The ideal scenario to create is that there is wind movement through the plants and this in itself will help prevent pests and diseases from harbouring within an extremely sheltered space that is your garden.  

This then also allows for the removal of any weeds or plants growing where they really shouldn’t be….

weeds...

weeds...

Once this is done… a good layer of bark down and you’re pretty much good to go. The key now is to remember how big the plants actually grew… so as you don’t end up putting plants into a gap where it won’t be seen in 6 months time or/and where overcrowding may once more occur. I guess a lot of this comes back to good planning and good design.

Do remember that it is a garden and it is supposed to be for enjoyment rather than endurance 😉 Also most plants are on the verge of dormancy and now is not such a bad time to get at this laborious chore. If the next question is ‘is now the righ time….?’ The answer is, if your garden requires some tending to and it will save the plant, even though it may not flower, then it is…

If you are unsure of what and not to do… don’t be afraid to pay for some advice and guidance and whatever you do make sure and get someone who really knows what they are talking about. Yes… someone as intelligent and as good looking [if that is possible…] as me 😆

Of course you can also leave a comment below…

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m9, m7, m50, m1, mmmmmm….


I’ve been working near The Curragh recently and my journey is one that sees me up at around 6am each morning. No problemo! A big bowl of porridge, a lovely brew of fresh ground coffee and I’m on my way…

I’m a happy go lucky kind of chappie. I work long hours, but then I prefer to sit next to a tree and wait; rather than get stuck in traffic… that’s my decision and I like it. I really do love what I do.

I know there are road works in place. There always will be. I’m regularly stuck behind ‘the pothole police’ in my home town of Ballyboughal… but I’ve been driving M1 – M50 – M7 – M9 for a while now and it must be said the Dublin road side of things, aestethically, is particularly brutal!! [I had another word in mind there].

The trees in one stretch were absolutely bludgeoned. There are no trees for the most parts. It is so bloody boring, grey, banal… where’s that darned thesaraus when you need it…

So what, for all of the toll charges, road tax, tax on vehicles, on car insurance… i’m mssing a few taxes here aren’t I…? do *we* get in return..? Well, not much really it seems. I did find one piece on the naas road where there were forsythia in flower… but that’ll be gone soon enough. Without using my telescope or seeking the assistance of a fortune teller…. I reckon, if I was in charge of transport – I’d be in big trouble?

If you would like to tell Noel Dempsey, minister for transport, how you feel – you can contact him here

activity in the garden this month…

gat the garden in groove...

get the garden in groove...

need some effin direction...

need some effin direction...

You may think there is little to do in the brrrr freezing cold this January. But, it is what you do now that will prove so fruitful in a few months time. Aside from the aesthetic gains to be reaped and after listening to RTE1 for too long recently – where the news, primetime and even the weatherman depressed me – I realised we all need something to smile about. I had to get outside.

But there is also another [moreso recently more serious] side to gardening and that is of keeping active. According to one report, if maintained for at least 30 minutes gardening can be so beneficial. They say…

  • Digging the garden burns between 150 and 200 calories per half hour
  • using a push mower burns 180 calories in women in half an hour and 240 calories in men, while using a motor mower it drops to 135 and 180 calories each.
  • planting, pruning and trimming flowers, shrubs and trees gives a moderate workout, burning 135 calories in women and 180 in men in half an hour.
  • weeding might be the scourge of most gardeners, it burns off 140 calories in women and over 180 in men per half hour
it's not a total dead end...

it's not a total dead end...

So having dusted down those tools and psyched yourself; having saved your petrol money so as you might drive to the gymnasium and having sold those spandex tracksuits 😉 here’s what you can do

  • trees, trees, trees – the best time to plant bare roots and rootballs types as they’re still dormant. They’re also great value.
  • tree’s, the Christmas tree – it could sit there for ages. Recycle it!
  • weeds – start doing it now. [see above]
  • mulch – i find it warms my hands! Buy it loose or by the metre cubed. It’s better value.
  • tree’s – adjust those straps and buckles. Not too loose mind you.
  • hedging – bareroots are still available – plant them now.
  • fertilise – yes fertiliser. If you use a slow release version [not 10:10:20 style] you can apply it now as you are planting or as you are mulching.
  • buy Grandma’ a rose plant – and pot it up yourself. Great value and she’ll love you for it
  • edging – re-edge those beds. Use a length of timber to stop damage on the lawn if necessary
  • prune – remove any dead or diseased wood from your trees
  • fruit – trees [more] are always good
  • vegetables – plan your plot for the new year – now!
  • birds – fill the feeders
  • garden hygiene – a good garden ‘spring clean’ so to speak is always necessary. It prevents a build of pests and diseases.
  • planting now means no watering – good for the environment

However, if you’re like my Dad 😉 you’ll probably just do the 30 mins and leave the rest to someone else….. That said, a great time to get a head start is now. Enjoy 🙂

start now & add that little groove into yours...

start now & add that little groove into yours...

2008, a good year…?

Another year over and what can I say?!! In short 2008 was the greatest roller coaster of a year since I first set up Donegan Landscaping over 8 years ago now. We had some really great,challenging and exciting projects to work on and that of course is down to really amazing Clients. I thank you all so much from the bottom of my heart. For the gardens created –  you, your thanks and your smiles is what made it all so much more worth while. You have all been brilliant.

looking back...

looking back...

Of course outside of that Bloom was only one of the contenders to steal the limelight. What started as a child like dream became a reality. And so the rollercoaster began 😉 Sponsorship was in place, designs were accepted and with weeks to spare… our sponsors decided not to. Par for the course I suppose. It did leave me in a slight pickle and with a very large boat in place already – I decided to go for it. Less so much money – medals were not on the menu. To complete a garden was. The response was overwhelming. And with a theme of recycling in mind, I ended up with a very different dilemma… That of finding a new home for a very large boat. It is here I must thank everyone who helped and also Rick and the 2fm team. Of course the finalé is what brought tears to my eyes. I am so very blessed for the friends I have.

After catching my breath… and to an extreme of sorts, possibly, it was next to the award winning gardens of Brackenstown house that would be opened to the public for the first time for an international sculpt exhibition. To pardon the cliché – no stone was to be left unturned. It was amazing. I know they are not my gardens – but – for the pure poetry that they are, I am so proud to say I wish they were mine 🙂

You may think it would end there. But it doesn’t. Quite recently I returned to South Africa with the Niall Mellon Township Trust. Once again it was a life changing experience. As I have said before all things ‘Peter Donegan’ went right out the window. I was one of over 2,000 people and I was part of a team. I was there to build gardens. I loved every second. It put life correctly inperspective. If I ever thought I had anything to complain about – I was wrong. Life has a new [and correct] meaning.

With that in mind, I think it is only appropriate that I sign off in exactly the same way as I did last year….

2008…. A good year? on one hand no business is ever an easy journey I suppose… but for the people I have had the pleasure to shake hands with this year; for those who stood taller by my side [DG/GC/DK] when life threw and odd one my way…one should really say it was a great year.

Go raibh míle maith agaibh. Nollaig Shona duit. Slán agus beannacht.

garden time this november

it's a what...?

it's a what...?

it may well be november – but that does not mean one can rest on their laurels [?!!]. There is still so much to be done in the garden. So here are the bits and bobs you need to get at. Help is right here – if you need it, just hollar. It may be a little colder – but do remember to enoy! The alternate of course is to get somebody to do the garden for you and you can always go for a walk on the promenade in Bray… i love it!

did i leave anything out…..