places i visited

fitzwilliam square gardens …?

A small privately-owned Square with access only for adjoining householders

not open to the public...?

These gardens confuse me slightly. They are on Dublin City Councils website – click here and one can call their offices for information on it – but yet they are privately owned. However, it also appears on the dublin tourist website- click here where it mentions nothing of the sort. And, Abakus, the people who are noted as the contact on the notice board have their website under construction [as I write this post].

That aside, I applaud, and in no way wish to take away from, any group of people who are willing to pay to have gardens maintained – however – on this one, I wouldn’t be best pleased with dublin city council. Mainly because I believe parks, especially those of ‘a city’ should be for people. All, of the people.

In fact the dictionaries first definition of a park is:
an area of land, usually in a largely natural state, for the enjoyment of the public, having facilities for rest and recreation, often owned, set apart, and managed by a city, state, or nation.

and in that case it is none of the above. In that context, it is correct that it does not have the title of park. For it is not. It would be a fraudulant ‘park’ theoretically. It is a garden[s], as described. But it should also should either be of no relation to the state [as is my own garden for example] or it should. The reason for my confusion.

That aside, I went in and had a look around anyway. There was a gate open. And I honestly didn’t know until I was leaving [honestly!]. Maybe it should be handed back to the state I thought as I left. No offence Abakus ltd and to whoever the grounds maintenance has been outsourced to, sincerely. I am fully aware that grounds maintenance budgets can be €40k and be maintained or €100k and look amazing.

I reviewed Merrion Square Park [similar sze and area] for example. It’s not the Queens private gardens in the sense of pristine. But it is a park and it looks good. Here however needs a little something. And this is where sometimes putting projects to tender does not always get the best results and also where park departments may/ do play a role that is so worth while.

In my opinion I would suggest; a really good once over and an injection of new life, horticulturally; I refer to the Ginko Biloba; the borders themselves in their entirety; a tree survey is required – and therfore tree works; the lawns need feeding; one patch looks seriously out of place and after that a real good maintenance schedule put in place and also a programme for new planting. This is not intended as ‘bad’ criticism and I would like my reasons to be based upon a contrast with the grounds of Merrrion Square Park [due to be published friday 28th November].

Note: As with all of my posts/ articles and writings they are never intended to be ‘insulting nor damning’ in anyway. They are always intended to be based upon the logic. If one wishes to discuss this or any other piece with me I will make it my business to be available to do so. And if a correction of any from is made [either by me or in the case of a company doing their little extra I will ensure it is well written of here].

NOTE 2: I have emailed dublin tourist website and dublin city council.

UPDATE: 26th November 2008

Dublin City Council, [bulaidh bós] responded to my email –

—– Original Message —–

Sent: Tuesday, November 25, 2008 12:02 PM
Subject: FW: fitzwilliam square gardens
Dear Mr. Donegan,
I have forwarded your email to Mr. Pat Curran, Senior Executive Parks Superintendent for attention and reply.
Regards,
Michelle,
Parks Division.

From: customerservices@dublincity.ie
Sent: 25 November 2008 11:33
To: parks@dublincity.ie
Subject: RE: fitzwilliam square gardens

Hello,

I am forwarding you this email from the Customer Services Centre email account which deals with queries from the public.

Can you please respond to the Customer directly?

I have informed the Customer that your Department/Section will be dealing with the matter directly at this email address and that you will respond as soon as possible.

Regards,

Collette Egan

Customer Services Centre


From: Info@doneganlandscaping.com [info@doneganlandscaping.com]
Sent: 24 November 2008 12:37
To: customerservices@dublincity.ie
Subject: Fw: fitzwilliam square gardens

Dear Sirs,
many thanks
peter
Peter Donegan MI Hort
director
Peter Donegan Landscaping Ltd
Bettyville
Ballyboughal
Co. Dublin
Ireland
t 00353-1-8078712
m 00353-87-*******
w https://www.doneganlandscaping.com
b http://blog.doneganlandscaping.com

Monte Palace Tropical Gardens, Madiera

m

  • designer: Jóse Berado, Eleuterio Soares
  • owner: Jóse Berado Foundation
  • garden style: Portuguese-Oriental
  • size: 21 aces [8.5 ha]
  • climate: mediterranean
  • location: funchal madiera

[source: 1001 gardens you must see before you die]

It is very unusual for me, possibly, to go on holidays and then – for a break of sorts – to visit gardens…? It’s not really.

The island of Madiera is quite an intriguing place when one sees what is happening to the land on this small island [i believe we in Ireland had a similar situation some time ago]; Planning aside, horticulturally this entire island is a dream-land for the plant lover, botanist and garden enthusiast.

But, my review is of The Monte Palace Gardens or The ‘Jardim Tropical da Quinta do Monte Palácio’ and aside from the slightly touristy, yet worth it, cable car journey up and the timber sleigh down, they are absolutely stunning, breathtakingly beautiful and so worthwhile visiting.

The gardens themselves date back to the 18th century but the works on turning the ‘land’ into gardens of merit actually only started in 1987. If you do visit, I would suggest going twice as every path splits into two or three different directions and so one doesn’t ‘really’ get to see everything.

For the plants person there are over 100,000 plant species; For the architect, the buildings are simply amazing; For the garden lover it is paradise and if you ever wanted an oriental themed garden – this is were you should look for inspiration. If you’re not an uber-garden lover then it is simply relaxation in it’s finest form. My pictures probably don’t do it justice enough.

I try to visit a garden in every county and country I visit. Not all of them appear here. These gardens however would be up there with the very best of them.

st. stephens green – faiche stiabhna

one of my favourite parks. I have always gone here. The memories for me start as a child; to my first girlfriend and now as [ahem?]…. as an elder. I really do love St Stephens Green. Steeped in history [great info on all things dublin here] it is not just a beautiful park for the horticultural enthusiast [and superbly well looked after for that matter] but it is unusually one where I find I can relax. That for me, where ‘green’ of any form is concerned [after working hours you appreciate], is deserved of great applause.

Outside of that the 9 hectares and 3.5km of walkways, mature trees and the fact that two minutes later one could be right in the middle of the hustle and bustle of Dublin City Centre makes it a little gem.

I was in most recently last week for a meeting and rather than walking from grafton street through the pedestrian traffic to merrion square… i walked through the park; sat watching the ducks, where we shared my lunch. A marshy common until 1663 St stephens Green history, it seems, it best noted here…

the amazing skerries mills

...

I thought this would be a boring day out. The ones you got ‘dragged’ out on when you were a nipper. I also thought, at first, the €6.50 tour charge was a bit steep, I was [very] pleasantly surprised.

This, had to be, one of the best ‘tours’ I’ve ever been on. Skerries Mills is simply amazing -and it’s a lot more than just a tour. And before you ask, I wasn’t given VIP tickets to visit!

..

I went with ‘herself’ for a bite to eat in the coffee shop and after some good filling home cooking, we took the tour. Paddy our guide has been involved in literally every stage of the renovation of the mills, going back ten years-ish now, into what it is today and he knows everything. Add to that a good sense of humour and one finds that it is the people that make a place.

From how the 55 acres surrounding the mills came into the councils hands, how spontaneous combustion evolved from static and flour and why the life expectancy for those [lucky enough to get a job there?] was only 40 years of age… is amongst the many facts that make the journey extremely enjoyable. Outside of that ‘The Mills’ are self sufficent, financially. That is, they have to break even. And they do, now.

€6.50! In my day we could have bought the entire mills for that and still had change for a loaf of bread…..

That aside, my other interest was/ is that we ‘are’ going back to the days of water conservation, wind power and home-made; gave me an insight into how ‘not so far away’ we are from those days of old returning.

As I said €6.50 each; todays made home made scones [i asked] and a pot of tea – it is, I thought at first, a bit my Dad’s kind of thing [at least I felt like him for a little…] but it was worth every cent!

Would I return – if only just for the warm scones!

Hedgerow Walks anyone?

peter donegan - hedgegrow walksThis is brilliant. The gas thing is when people say to me will that grow here – I usually suggest to take a look around you first. The only way to appreciate what is growing on your doorstep.

Slí = way, road, path & Sceach = thornbush, hawthorn, briar

Slí na sceacha = hedgerow walk/ way

The hedge.org is a voluntary group doing their bit. Their website has more links to relevant sites than you could shake a stick at [!] and brimmed with useful information. It also seems the local heritage councils have spent a few quid here too on grants to the various societies; and rightly so, they are so important.

That said, whilst it is maybe indirectly taxpayers money, it is theoretically free and beautiful! Put on those funky trainers, get outside with those old woolie warmers on you and watch nature changing around you. I love it!