Bord Bia Promotes….


I am a horticulturist/ gardener/ landscaper etc call me what you may. I am aware that little if any promotion of gardening takes places in Ireland. This isn’t doom and gloom merchandising I am selling nor my opinion, this is mere observation. Apart from a garden show in June and some events Bord Bia detail below, one must essentially pay to qualify for almost all of the promotion.

This isn’t just me, or about just me, by the way. This is Irish plant sales fuelled by the general consumer combined with a demand for gardeners/ landscapers and garden designers who also buy plants. It is an entire horticultural industry that in 2007 was valued at approximately €1 billion

Bloom aside ie. one summer pay to enter event per annum; from what I can see and to the eye Bord Bia online and in print seems to be pretty much food/ organics etc. I hope I am proved wrong here or told with facts that I am incorrect – but what exactly if anything is or has been promoting horticulture in Ireland since June 2010 – to date.

On Tuesday November 16th I asked Bord Bia, via twitter:

@Bordbia any promotions/ pr for irish horticulture/ gardening planned any time soon…..? full page advert in @the_irish_times maybe ?

The following [below] is the conversation which followed.


@DoneganGardens Hi Peter, you can check out the itsgardentime site & also for events 🙂

@Bordbia thanks for the link, are they not all events organised by garden centres themselves ?

@DoneganGardens you’re very welcome Peter, they are indeed, Bloom is then a seperate event organised by us.

@Bordbia ok so, outside of Bloom then there are no plans to do anything really ?

@DoneganGardens also running into our Christmas tree promo. Next we will be organising for the Amenity Quality awards in early Feb!

@DoneganGardens just sent you another tweet there – ships that pass an all that. We do have regular promotions throughout the year.

@Bordbia well, I didnt pay to do the awards scheme this year so I cant be in there – also I dont grow Christmas trees

@Bordbia …..what are the regular promotions since/ outside of Bloom til now ?

@DoneganGardens Actually Peter, if you’re looking for some further reading these days why not check out

@DoneganGardens Peter what specifically are you asking, is it Landscape Gardening promotions you are interested in?

@Bordbia yeah saw that. most of covered on the blog. a list of ‘regular promotions’ [not Bloom] & landscape/ gardening specific, please 🙂

@DoneganGardens is this for a blog post Peter?

@Bordbia yes. an enquiry from a previous post[s] and led to initial question

@DoneganGardens Hi Peter, all the details of awards, events, info etc are all on our website via about gardening & its garden time 🙂

@Bordbia are there 2 people running this account at same time or is this bord Bia’s response to what garden related promotions have taken…

@Bordbia ….place since Bloom to now ?

@DoneganGardens no Peter it’s just me as always – Maeve 🙂

@Bordbia *smiles at Maeve. Is that the official line then ?

@DoneganGardens Peter every activity we do for food/drink/hort is all on our website, hard to relay in 140 characters 🙂 (keep smiling)

@Bordbia a full page advert [plus] in the irish times promoting gardening would help Maeve. Either or its not much on Bord Bia’s part

@DoneganGardens thanks Peter – I’ve mentioned this to Carol & hort team & this is included in 2011 plans 🙂


@Bordbia thanks for mentioning [?] to Carol Maeve. what is included in the 2011 plans ?

@DoneganGardens Hi Peter, thanks for sharing!

@DoneganGardens Hi Peter, you’re more than welcome to contact Mike Neary here in Bord Bia Horticulture, would you like his email?

@Bordbia yes sure. what does mike do and what should I contact him about ?

@DoneganGardens Hi Peter! Mike looks after the Horticulture Dept so you’re very welcome to enquire about 2011 plans which was your last Q.

@Bordbia my guess is 2011 plans are already planned and will be pretty much the same as 2010, but i’ll enquire nonetheless. thanks Maeve

@DoneganGardens you’re very welcome Peter!


From the answers I got …..[?] It seems there’s little or nothing to answer my [original] question. The weekend magazine in the Irish times had one full page advert [and more] promoting food.

A few Bord Bia relating links – where gardening is promoted [?]

Am I being finicky here….?

I wrote this article on promoting Irish horticulture / gardening. But I find this post I called the happy gardener tells, from my experience anyway – if you don’t pay the money – you dont qualify for the promotion and outside of that…. I am on my own.


*note the word horticulture [singular and only] has been removed from the above Bio and is therefore different from the official Bord Bia twitter bio as shown at the top of the page.

My point[s], if even they have been made, is not to gain a higher hand nor insult in any way. I’ve said it before here that something needs to happen, something more regular. It doesn’t necessarily mean a big bag of cash or a dedicated team. Simply something more than a once per annum big show and then it fades away. I’m fully aware there are twitterati employed that may suggest well its just Peter and sure let him off. Maybe those who believe they own the Irish internet may even begin speaking in the third person again about me. But I am 34. I reckon I have another 30 odd years in this industry remaining [touch wood]. And it is I as one of so very many that is picking up the pieces from last years weather re-enactment of Noah’s Arc and Titanic combined and trying to make it work this year, still.

I run a weblog which is ‘great outdoors’ dedicated. It’s not just about Donegan Landscaping. It is podcast, video, images, twitter,garden group, blog etc done on a regular basis – daily and weekly. I do it for free. Pause it. Why I bother with a blog. It is done free gratis, in my spare time. The set-up is pretty decent. The stats are pretty good – I’m sure some computer whiz kid could tell you how bad/ good they are on an etch a sketch. If I can do it why can’t/ won’t or should there not be one to do the same under the banner of Irish Horticulture. It’s just a suggestion. But it’s the best one I’ve heard since June 2010 and most likely until June 2011. Whether or not and whilst assuming there is no [regular] tv, radio, print, advertising budget.

There should be – video’s for potting bulbs, plants, trees. Images and audio, interviews from people and places – and I don’t mean the usual suspects who are obviously a lot more tactile than I. I mean the guy and his wife team from Laois or Offaly [for example]  who is a gardener – and offer more than a one line listing on your site type of effort. I mean seriously promote the guy. Not an article that was written for your website done by those who you know best, only – or by those from an association. Because lets face it – how many memebers are there of the ALCI/ GLDA/ ELCA/ IOH etc combined – and then open a golden pages for just Dublin and count even just the landscapers/ gardeners ?

Am I missing something…..?

If this is the horticultural promotion board – then promote it.

horticulture n the art or science of cultivating gardens

source: collins english dictionary paperback edition


17 replies
  1. Michelle
    Michelle says:

    Peter well done on your enquiries to an Bord Bia yesterday – I was astonished at the way she just ignored what you were asking her and trotted out some official line. Since horticulture was put under the Bord Bia umbrellas you are correct – it just hasn’t been promoted.

  2. Bernie Goldbach
    Bernie Goldbach says:

    Speaking from my perch in the Golden Vale, I wonder if Bord Bia actually understands the issues you’re raising here. It sounds like they lack an understanding of the essential nature of effectively promoting horticulture in Ireland.

  3. Dee Sewell
    Dee Sewell says:

    Well put Peter, I completely agree.

    As you’re aware I help beginners to start growing their own veggies. I started because there was no help out there for people who weren’t willing to commit their time to lengthy accredited courses. I still get enquiries from beginners wanting the basics on creating gardens and garden planting but that isn’t my field. The need is there. However there doesn’t seem to be any help, either to individuals or folk in the horticularal industry from official sources. No TV, courses, conferences awards or radio (other than as you say the annual Bloom and look how popular that is). There’s one Irish magazine and then there’s folk like us. Like you I have a blog, a facebook page and have just set up another facebook page for Irish Community Gardeners. All this for free and in my own time. Why? Because I care and I want to help people. It’s certainly not to make me rich! When I started out I struggled to find information about Irish seed companies, irish suppliers or local producers. When I find them I link to them on my web page or FB page. I also link to UK sites that can be considerably cheaper for some things (such as biological controls) because I live in the real world.

    But I’m now asking myself the question why am I doing this? In the ideal world there would be a central place where I could find out all these things. With economics as they are we should all be helping and linking each other. I’m trying to find all the Irish Community Gardens so that we can discuss and find out what works and what doesn’t – hence the FB page. Nobody knows how many there are in Ireland or who they’re being run by. Why not??

    I’ll finish there as I’m in danger of ranting. But I do agree there could be a lot more help out there for us. I’d be interested to hear a more official response from this.

  4. peter donegan
    peter donegan says:

    @michelle On the face of it…. it seems to be the promotion of what is good for promotion abroad. That I can gather that does not include garden related persons. Is it [question] a case for the return of Bord Glas. I shall rephrase, the job they did ?

    @Bernie Goldbach I don’t think they do Bernie. And the point I am trying to make is not me having a go. It is my and so many others future. The amount of emails I have got tells a very similar line of feeling. Most likely this post is as far as it will go. I somehow get the feeling i may well have done myself more harm than good here.

    @Dee thanks Dee. In a nutshell there are bits everywhere and a lot of people doing a lot of good work because they love/ enjoy what they do. But if they all blogged/ audio/ video and were linked from the one – with a sole [soul] place from which one could easily find – irrespective of who you are and your standing in the industry or how well you got on with someone – it may just bring us all that little closer together.
    That said, there’s no denying its a great time to be a chef or an organic grower…..

  5. Dee Sewell
    Dee Sewell says:

    Peter what you show is passion and a need and want to see change and improvement. Okay so you may have upset a fellow tweeter and official department quoting her so personally (didn’t you once tell me to sleep on something before hitting the send button?) but hopefully it will be seen as a blog borne from frustration rather than malice.

    Sometimes it’s the volunteers or people in the industry who have to make changes too…. a couple of food bloggers recently saw a gap in the food blogging sector (is that the write word for a bunch of people who write about cooking their own food?) They’ve set up a group called The Irish Food Bloggers Association to umbrella all the writers out there. They’ve done this voluntarily and it’s growing daily. Perhaps something along those lines would be a start for us too?

  6. peter donegan
    peter donegan says:


    quite rightly summised, but, re quoting sooooo personally I only quoted what already made public and online and in answer to questions I asked publically on the interweb. After 10 years on my own in business and another 30 odd to go…. this is not frustration and definitely not malice. I shall refer to Michelle’s comment here also.
    As I said in the podcast I hope it is seen as fair point, rather than a wish to upset any ‘body’ or anybody. The reality is, we [more than I] need something to happen more than has been and is at present. Sound logic…. ?


  7. Joseph Blair
    Joseph Blair says:

    Hi Peter. Can I republish this. There are many valid points you have raised that effect the wider sector. Maybe we could have a chat sometime you are free.

  8. peter donegan
    peter donegan says:

    A Chara Joseph,

    work away and just link it back to the post my friend. Thats what its there for 😉
    look forward to it mobile number at the bottom of the website

    best wishes

  9. Brian Paterson
    Brian Paterson says:

    I feel that the points you make are valid Peter, in what is already a difficult economic climate there appears to be little active promotion of the horticultural sector outside of the main event (Bloom). There is an opportunity to add listings of events however this type of service is available on a number of sites and as you rightly commented is more specific to garden centres.

    It does seem that the small Irish food producer does have a number of ways of promoting itself outside of Bord Bia ie The Irish Food Bloggers Association (as Dee already mentioned) andGood Food Ireland.

    Perhaps Bord Bia might evaluate the current stance of their promotion of the horticultural sector given the pertinent questions that you raised. They could even employ you as a consultant to inject some fresh ideas into the system.

    All the best.


  10. peter donegan
    peter donegan says:

    Hi Brian,

    thank you for taking the time to comment and thanks also for leaving your name with it. Since the post has been written there have been many messages of agreement, most [somewhat understandably ?] noting their wish to remain off the record.

    To your comment:
    There is little to zero promotion [full stop] horticulturally outside of Bloom and so from June to June little or nothing exists or happens, year on year. [see comment 1] It seems a lot is down to the individual and either you promote your own bit of horticulture or you dont. That said, an annual, weekend event, garden show is not the answer to everything. I do note Bord Bia, for example, this weekend were covering the salon du blog. Great once again for food and this is just one weerkend. My point is that if the ‘promoters of horticulture’ aren’t even talking about gardening or anything related – then there is a problem, for those like me and you; and that is very simply just a twitter account, never mind anything else.

    Perhaps Bord Bia might evaluate. Perhaps I did raise pertinent questions. But they and the comments that followed have not been responded to to date and Bord Bia are aware of this blog post. Fresh ideas are always a great thing and although I would welcome anything that would help promote gardening in any format, unfortunately possibly, I dont, as it stands, see my name really being selected if anything is to happen, despite your and my views and despite what may be best for our sector. On that note, I remember when I wrote for The Farmers Journal and some 7/8 years ago now, having to ask a younger Trevor Sargeant if I could have the printed paper copy of his speech so I could complete my article…. I hope in this case, those responsible for promoting horticulture can see past the individual and to the bigger picture [?]

    Once again, this is not about Bord Bia. Far from it, yet I wonder [as Bernie Golbach commented, if Bord Bia actually understand the issues I am raising here.
    Finally, in reference to your opening sentence, this needs to happen yesterday last year.


  11. Brian Paterson
    Brian Paterson says:

    It was a slightly rushed reply as the events with the Green Party were unfolding at the time.

    I see nothing wrong with giving constructive feedback and for that reason I am quite happy to put my name to my comments. Perhaps if more people felt able to come forward without fear of consequence or what ever reason it would allow Bord Bia to see the views of those in the horticultural sector.

    I do not see this as a personal attack on Bord Bia or any individual just an open constructive dialogue with the aim of looking at alternative ways of promoting horticulture.

    I would hope that you do receive a reply as the response is important to all of us in this sector.

    Cheers Brian

  12. peter donegan
    peter donegan says:

    A Chara Brian,
    In short, I concur. [looks over at the RHS….. ]

    But with only one garden magazine, one regular garden radio programme, no regular garden tv, not even a trade magazine [although not as important as public/ just saying] …. but hey, we have a garden show one weekend per year and all roads head towards the phoenix park.

    Lets be honest about it when the sterling [for example] used to make exports of Irish mushrooms less attractive – the adverts would appear on Irish tv quite promptly; same went for the the BSE crisis and so on…. but when we the amenity sector [to use the recent weather as an example] hit minus 16 celcius, one of the heaviest rainfalls in eons and what I can only describe last year as a 12 month and rolling disaster….. nada, zilch, nothing takes place and so it continues….

    As my own online efforts quite easily prove [sings carly simon to myself….etc] – it doesnt have to cost the earth and although we as an industry need a helluva lot more than that [I see January on the horizon….] it’s not that bad a place to start. Then again the ALCI’s blog was a decent idea, to start [they really should just pay someone to run that for them, as industry leaders etc] – but isn’t a great example, no offence.

    I like your closing line, in its entirety.
    best for now

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