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This Landscaping Blog

peter donegan

It’s somewhere around about a few months ago that I was supposed to do one big whopper of a post highlighting all of the great things I did over the last 12 months. A review of my year that was 2013 so to speak. I didn’t. And I’m not going to do one of them. Not this year. No apparent reason. I just couldn’t be arsed. Not, not arsed. I just don’t feel like it. The damn things take three days or so to write anyway.

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Landscaping Ireland and The Home Renovation Incentive Scheme (HRI)

irish distillers pernod ricard, fox and geese garden (3)

Update March 7th 2013:

I interviewed Pat Moland of The Irish Tax and Customs Revenue – or The Revenue Commissioners [on The garden radio show] as they are better known, to discuss the Home Revenue Incentive Scheme [HRI] from both the client and contractors perspective.

The Home Renovation Incentive Scheme (HRI), according to is:

A new Revenue scheme enables homeowners to claim tax relief on repairs, renovations or improvement work that is carried out on their homes by tax-compliant contractors and is subject to 13.5% VAT.

The Home Renovation Incentive (HRI) will be paid in the form of a tax credit at 13.5% of qualifying expenditure, which can be set against your income tax over 2 years. In general, qualifying work must be done between 25 October 2013 and 31 December 2015.

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Ireland’s Tulip Festival 2012

The SodShow meets Irelands Tulip Festival and The Ambassador to the Netherlands (mp3)

Friday 2nd March, The Sodshow comes to you from The Royal Netherlands Embassy Residence. There I and Brian talk to The Ambassador to the Netherlands Robert Engels, Fred Duijn, Angela Jupe and Anne Ward about Irelands tulip Festival, the tulip naming competition and some great up and coming associated talks, plant fairs and garden féte’s.

The Dutch Embassy has enthusiastically accepted a request to be involved in promoting the joys of gardening in Ireland; we offer support to Angela Jupe’s Tulip Festival at Shinrone & Birr, Co. Offaly, 21-28 April 2012. Moreover, we launched a -unique- tulip naming competition which will run until 9 March. Professor Mary McAleese has kindly accepted to chair the Jury. The winning name will be announced, and the tulip baptized, on 29 March. The winner receives a free trip to Amsterdam to visit the Keukenhof.

The Tulip naming competition runs until March 9th 2012 – more info or Netherlands Embassy Website

The Tulip festival takes place 21-28 April 2012.

Bellefield Plant Fair, with over 20 nurseries, talks on Irish snowdrops and hellebores as well of course good food and hopefully a good day. – more info

The interview – The Sodshow from The Netherlands Embassy

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Irish Christmas Trees

christmas tree

In search of best value, a series of Christmas tree online questions led me to Kehoe’s Blooming Brilliant Garden Centre. They sell a non shed [Nordman Fir] fresh Christmas tree for €39. Orla McDermot told me that Superquinn were selling live Christmas trees [Picea Omorika] for €19.99. and whilst one can also pick their own from a tree farm in North County Dublin, it was an idea from Finbar O’Mahony and West Cork Secret Garden Centre on Friday’s SodShow that introduced me to the concept of leasing a live Christmas trees.

The #SodShow Friday 2nd December. Dublin Garden Radio Podcast (mp3)

According to Bord Bia, the Christmas tree harvest is currently underway due to favourable harvesting conditions. It is expected that approximately 700,000 trees will be harvested this year by Irish growers, 400,000 for the home market and 300,000 for export.

Since the Christmas tree was introduced into Ireland, growers have strived to meet consumer expectations with respect to the shape, balance of branch layers, scent and colour of the tree. This year is no exception and it is notable that the quality of this year’s harvest is excellent, according to Dermot Page, President, the Irish Christmas Tree Grower Association.

kehoe's christmas tree superquinn christmas tree

It takes seven to ten years to produce a 2 metre tall tree, and this means year round care for the life of the tree, including weed control, pruning and shaping by growers on their plantations to produce a quality tree. It is also important to note when considering which tree to purchase that real Christmas trees are environmentally friendly as they can be recycled, while the land used for growing them can be replanted or returned to traditional agricultural practices.

Christmas Tree Facts 

  • The first recorded reference to a decorated Christmas tree was in Riga Latvia 1510 just over 500 years ago. Christmas tree lights were first mass-produced in 1890.
  • An artificial tree will last up to six years in your home and centuries in landfill sites.
  • In 1884 Prince Albert (husband of Queen Victoria) is credited with bringing the Christmas tree tradition to Windsor Castle.
  • The Scandinavians originally decorated their trees with fishing nets and little flags while the Germans were known for decorating their trees with red apples and white wafers.
  • There are over a hundred growers of Christmas trees in Ireland.

Why buy a real Christmas Tree?

  • Locally grown Christmas trees are really fresh due to the reduced travel stress on them.
  • There is tremendous variety and a large range of different size trees available to meet your particular needs.
  • Once cared for properly, non-shedding trees such as the Noble Fir and Lodgepole Pine will not lose their needles.
  • Real Christmas trees are great value as they retail at the same price as they did in the late eighties.
  • Each tree is cultured as an individual tree and produced to the highest quality standards from the time they are planted right through to delivery.
  • Your real Christmas tree is a natural resource and therefore can be recycled.  This is in contrast to artificial trees, which are usually made of metal and plastic materials and use oils and minerals in their manufacture.
  • The forest environment is protected by the fact that Christmas trees are continually being planted to replace those trees being harvested.  This is in accordance with sustainable yield management promoted by the Forest Service.
  • As well as adding to the beauty of our landscape, growing Christmas trees produces large amounts of oxygen and removes the harmful carbon dioxide or “greenhouse gas” from our atmosphere.  Real trees also provide natural habitats for forest animals and birds.

Caring for your Tree

  • After purchasing your tree, cut an inch or two off the bottom of the tree’s stem and stand it in a bucket of water.  Shake off any loose needles before bringing the tree indoors.
  • Once inside, stand the tree in a special Christmas tree stand or in a bucket with a water bowl.  Add a pint of water to the water bowl and top up daily.

Christmas Tree Safety

  • Place the tree in the coolest part of the room making sure it is properly secured and away from doorways, stairs, heaters, radiators and open fires.
  • Make sure that lights on the Christmas tree or lights used for decoration elsewhere are properly wired and comply with the current EU standards of safety.

Always unplug tree lights and other decorations when leaving the house or going to bed.

Where to buy

Find out where the nearest Christmas tree outlet is in your area.  This can include shopping centres, garden centres and any of the 60 members of the Irish Christmas Tree Grower Association. (Visit You and your family can have a lovely Christmas experience by travelling to a Christmas tree farm where you can select your own tree and have it cut down.  Alternatively, you can choose one already on display.

After Christmas

After the festive season, your tree can also be recycled for use as mulch; check your local Council or Corporation’s website for Christmas tree recycling arrangements. If potted, your tree can also be replanted in your garden.

I have already been in touch with Fingal County Council and will publish a list of recycling places here later. Now if only there were a home for all of those live Christmas trees to go to….. anyone ?

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David Rodgers of Rodgers Potato Growers

My interview with David will aired on The SodShow this Friday 11th November.

The #SodShow. Friday 11th November. Irish Garden Radio & Podcast (mp3)

On Wednesday 9th I made my way to the Rodgers potato yard to meet and interview David Rodgers. David’s Dad, Joe Rodgers is the gentleman and the name that appears on the many bags of poatoes sold all over the country of Ireland.

With audio sometimes it’s a good thing to help paint the surrounds in which our conversation took place and just what will create a certain amount of ambient noise in the background on Friday’s on air interview.

There are also these images….. if you have never seen it before, take a closer look and see just how tall the crates are stacked !

To give you a taster, this was just one field of the Rodgers rooster’s that I did a short video of back in July 2011.

For the home or more domestic potato grower there are some topics that have been covered on The SodShow previously. That said I still wanted to personally hear and highly recommend David’s thoughts on chitting, cropping, flowering and his advice for the grow your own potato folk.

The following are those parts of the interview and also them that will not air on Fridays show.

Potato Growing Advice (mp3)