Peter Donegan, landscaping dublin, garden design

small garden… any ideas?

Whether small or large, the size is irrelevant, your garden should still be given the same amount of thought, detail and attention as any other. If you are looking for ideas, you’ve had enough of the January blues and February is the month you really need to make life that little bit brighter… Then here are some ideas to get you in the groove [see the images below]. Believe me a little work now does pay dividends.

Why now – there’s no looking after it really and plants will take this opportunity to settle themselves in their new homes rather than trying to produce foliage/ flower and possibly having a stressful settling in period.

Some of the images naturally required a little more work than others, some you may need a little help to get you out of the starting blocks… others you may be able to do yourself. But if that little bit of inspiration is lacking at the moment and you need to brighten up your day… soon! Simply, step outside, close your eyes and imagine just for a little and smile 🙂

Hard Landscaping & Small Spaces

pebble and paving...

The key to landscaping small spaces is that the final result, when complete, gives the feel of a brighter, airy & open space. It is to give the eye more than a ‘oh that’s nice’ and a walk on effect. It is to give, even in the smallest of spaces, a visual journey.

The second key is that it is contains the functional aspects and also with that in mind that aesthetically the finished garden style suits. In the case above a front garden with an allowance for an extra car parking space was to be given, without making the garden stand out for the wrong reason. It may not win awards – but it doesn’t look out of place for the wrong reason and also [very important] it fitted the clients budget.

We could have hard surfaced the entire front garden… but there are considerations however with regard to being a little greener; specifically with regard to paving and moreso with regard to front gardens. [This has recently been written about by Ros Drinkwater in the Sunday Business Post.] But, consideration to this really should be given anyway. The answer is possibly to do a mix of the the two and/ or to just go without the hardened surface. That aside – a concrete jungle, simply put, would have looked wrong.

Of course the alternate is a mix of the two. This allows for the drainage of water within that area, assuming that the preparations beneath allow for the dissipation of water through it. In the case above it also allowed that the dark pavings were given a little something to brighten up what could have become a very dark space. For that reason a bright gold pebble was used.

This does not mean of course that no one hardened surface can be given. it is simply a solution to low maintenance gardens and gardening; to small garden designs; to poor draining gardens and at the same time considering the environment. It is a possible alternate solution to hardened surfaces.

the poetry of plants [reviewed]

at trinity college

at trinity college

Saturday 15th November 2008, from 2-5pm saw four guest speakers take the stand for The Lewis Glucksman Memorial Symposium. What must have been a near full auditorium in the Edmund Burke Theatre in Trinity College [sponsored by Bloom and in association with Dublin City Library].

Chaired by Professor Moray McGowan; The first speaker was Dr Matthew Jebb. He started with what he titled as ‘a poem to Boatany’. An amazing speaker, he wowed the crowds with the question that ultimately was ‘are the plants taking advantage of us?’, based on a plants ability to survive. His thinking, that the apple tree for example that started in Kazakhstan with a pip that contained cyanide and yet has become one of the most successful trees ever. His facts wowed and entertained while his accompanying slides drove home how much 2 cubic kilometres of H2O that plants split apart through photosynthesis each day actually was and that 30 times the size of Ireland was actually grown as wheat.

my notes from the day...

my notes from the day...

Dr Shelly Siguaro as with all the other speakers politely kept within the very tight timing schedule. Her piece was entitled ‘The Poetics of a Paradox’. She queried whether gardens & politics are political. She noted that a plot was a plan but also a place to grow. Her most amazing analagy was that ‘changing garden norms was like cross dressing in front of the lawn’.

Andrew Wilson was speaker number three. His sermon was ‘Visual Poetry’ He started with a personal homage of sorts to his brother, a sports writer for the Guardian and how competitiveness played a part in his life. I liked that. He queried whether nice and ugly was not better than fab or “shoite” and commented that garden shows while intense and dazzling where then only ever a memory.

The final speaker was Ms Anna Pavord and ‘Search for Order’. She spoke of common names versus latin. She told the story of the herb women, whose job it was to collect the plant for the doctors for cures and rather than walking the 8 miles – they’d simply give the doctor the nearest thing to them. So the cures didn’t work and eventually the study of plants became necessary. She spoke of William Turner, the 1st UK botanist, who wrote a book of plants names – but they were all in english and so it was useless abroad.

All in all, this was a great day. It was brilliant in fact or as Andrew would encourage his students to say ‘it was fab’. I really, really loved it. I look so very much forward to the next one. Bulaidh bós, well done all – you really did yourself proud.

plants and their names

what name was it...?

I had a conversation with a lady recently who was asking about a particular plant. The problem is… she may as well said can I have a Donegan…. Bear with me…. I’m trying not to make this confusing, because it confused me, at first, when it was first explained to me… hmmm 😉 Anyhow.

She asked for the ‘common name’, Chinese Lantern [another post maybe] but there are some varying names of which it could have been. It’s a bit like being in America and you saying I’m Irish and then you are asked do you know the O’Flaherty’s. What…?! Which ones? You know what I mean. In this case there were two immediate answers – the Physalis alkekengi or the Crinodendron Hookeriannum. Both commonly known as ‘lantern’ except – one is low growing [about 6″ tall] and spreads like wildfire – the latter is a bush that will grow to 20′ tall. Slight difference?



The problem is when one goes outside of Ireland; even in England a plant may have 4 or 5 common names. And so the botanical or Latin language is used. It is an international language for plants. This allows me to ring Italy, Holland or France for example and they know exactly what I am looking for.

But there is a format for how the names are positioned. For example Golden Privot: Ligustrum Ovalifolium ‘aureum’ – which loosely translates as Privot – oval foliage – golden. Or Horse Chestnut is Aesculus Hippocastanum. However it is the order of how the names are positioned that helps the most.

The first word is the genus [or surname eg Donegan/ Aesculus]

The second is the species [first name eg. Peter/Hippocastanum]

The cultivar or variety is the third name in this case we may have Aesculus Hippocastanum  ‘Baumanii’

professional services

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Professional services
we offer only the highest level of professional services available to you at any stage of the development of your landscape, tailored to suit your project and budget. A full landscape design and consulting service is available to both domestic and commercial clients. Whatever the size of your project, Peter Donegan’s team will prove to be an invaluable tool in achieving only the highest standards possible and the best results from your landscape.

From initial drawing stage of your building no matter the cost and final resulting landscape, it is equally as important to know and appreciate the time required [and costs resulting] of maintaining this picture of beauty. Your choice of materials here and overall design layout play a massive role in the early stages of planning of your project. No matter the size of project or budget, the experienced and qualified staff of Peter Donegan’s Office will ensure only the finest results of the highest standards evolve on your behalf.

Concept sketches and design
Further to an initial consultation concept sketches and/or designs would be drawn as and where appropriate. This may involve site surveys or an analysis of the site in conjunction with the client’s requirement of the area. Naturally this will vary depending on whether it be commercial or domestic.

More detailed drawings
Full drawings [or working drawings] for bespoke pieces, construction or unusual concepts may require engineering style plans for construction building teams to work from. Where necessary, The Donegan Design Team will work closely with a clients architect to ensure a merge of the building architects plans meet those of the gardens.

Planting Plans
Where required, The Donegan design team can be responsible for the design of the soft landscaping or a combination of elements of a clients design. The Donegan design team only employs qualified and experienced horticulturists more than capable of design at the highest levels and standards

Overseeing Projects
Whilst The Donegan Team, both landscape design and landscaping do work with a proven awarded track record, some clients prefer to manage their garden build in a manner that suits them specifically. Should this be a Clients choice Peter Donegan design can also offer a project management or overseeing service which will ensure their project achieves the highest standard.