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Peter Donegan: award winning Irish gardener. Horticulturalist. Blogger. Writer. Talker. Human. Makes gardens.

Either or. Will always be happy and happy gardening 😀

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Basil – Ocimum basilicum

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The Ocimum [labiatae/ lamiaceae] are a genus of about 365 species of aromatic annuals and evergreen herbs. But – this is not lavender we are discussing. This is the herb we know as basil. With that in mind I am only interested in one type.

There are other varieties, but I have chose what I regard a the more common basil [to me] or what is know commercially as sweet basil. It is an annual and therefore completes its life cycle in one season.

Either or the entire of the ocimum basilicum’s are renowned as either short lived perennials or annuals. They are tender little things that, horticulture aside most people have very little, or less luck with. Any deviation from that truth and your pants are on fire or you work for NASA – and yes they can hear you. Back to the herbs…

For me, I prefer to grow mine from seed and there literally is no major secret [there is of course 😉 ] to doing so. Simply fill a jam jar with compost. Firm slightly and place on the kitchen window ledge. Add a little patience and play the waiting game. Some say, sow them in rediculous rows 8″ apart – but I like to scatter a few across the top and stuff the rule book. Its more fun as well.

The scent from them is amazing. I chose not to feed them either. Its just me and food crops. And if I end up with too much from cropping…. I freeze them to get me through the winter. Next year, I’ll start all over again. As a btw, you should get about 300 seeds in a pack… use what you must and put the rest [in the packet] in the freezer.

The Garden Group Set To Sail

I have a different gig on this weekend – not be confused! To this one, planning had started some time ago for the garden groups second journey and I am pleased to say we are ready to roll.

Never been on a garden group gig…?

After a late night phonecall with a gentleman called Mark from Island Ferries [4th February] our next adventure will be to Irelands Eye.

  • Date: April 18th, Sunday
  • Time: 11.30 am
  • Meeting Point: Outside The Bloody Stream Pub, Howth, Co. Dublin
  • Cost For Boat Trip: €15 return – paid to Skipper on the day
  • Booking: via comment here only
  • Contact me: I’m on [Vodafone Prefix]6594688 or twitter.com/DoneganGardens
  • Other: As we are travelling by boat I will need to call two days in advance to ensure that weather conditions are suitable for us to travel. There are no toilet facilities on the island – so use your head!  Also be very careful with rubbish/ wrappers that may blow away.
  • Dress Code: See above video and this is Ireland.
  • Duration: I conferred with The Skipper and I and he reckon about 3 hours on the island should be ample.
  • Weather: the weather…. your guess is as good as mine ;) and this is Ireland. But I will be keeping an eye on met eireann and saying a wee prayer. Bring an umberella. Wrap up warm. And wear some shoes that will keep your feet dry.
  • Lunch: I had suggested bringing a picnic. That’s what I will be doing anyway. All things going good it’ll be a flask of coffee and some nice sambos!
  • Anything else: leave a comment below or gimme a call.
  • Directions: Get to Howth via DART is the best option. The entrance exit of the station is right next to our meeting point The Bloody Stream Pub. Bus numbers 31 & 31B also go there from Lower Abbey Street and there should be ample parking.

Have I ever been there…? No. But from my extensive google research here’s what I have found out.

Courtesy Wikipedia

The ruins of a Martello Tower and an 8th-century church (the Church of the Three Sons of Nessan) are the only signs of previous habitation. The tower’s window entrance 5 metres above ground level can now be accessed by a rope that hangs down from the window. The church functioned as parish church for Howth until recent centuries, eventually being replaced by a church in the village due to the limitations of having to take a boat for every service.

In Celtic times the island was called Eria’s Island. Eria was a woman’s name and this became confused with Erin, derived from Éireann, the Irish name for Ireland. The Vikings substituted the word Island with Ey, their Norse equivalent, and so it became known as Erin’s Ey and ultimately Ireland’s Eye. The island was also known formerly as Inis Faithlenn.

Ireland’s Eye comprises the main island, a range of rocks and an islet called Thulla. The most spectacular feature is the huge freestanding rock called “the Stack”, at the northeastern corner of the island, which plays host to a large variety of seabirds, including thousands of guillemots, razorbills, fulmars and gulls. Ireland’s fifth gannet colony became established on the Stack in the 1980s, and there are now a few hundred pairs breeding there each year. There is a large cormorant colony on the main island, and a few breeding pairs of puffins. Grey seals are abundant in the sea around the island.

The Eye is a townland in its own right, with a registered area of 21.5 hectares (53 acres).

Birdweb.net also have some good reading for those a little more into the nature side of it with some great notes on routes to take and what you can expect to see. I would pay particular note to this line of their writing

It is good policy to stick to the trodden paths as it is only too easy to walk on well camouflaged chicks or eggs.

Places for trip are limited to 18 people. Those who were on the previous Garden Group trip have first refusal and the usual Garden Group Guides apply.

*The First Garden Group Journey

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101 Amazing Peter Donegan Facts

I had written some time ago a list of ten things you did not know about me. But recently I was reading the weblog of Eolai Gan Fheile and found he had done 101 which I found so much more interesting…. I realised I should do something a little more indepth.

  1. I have 4 sisters and 3 brothers
  2. My Mothers father [my ‘Pop’] was a furrier by trade
  3. When I was 6 years old he told me he blew up Hitler with a grenade
  4. He was a pioneer [never drank] for life
  5. My father has been in the wine trade all of his life
  6. My Mother was only 2lbs in weight when she was born. ‘Thats 2 bags of sugar…’
  7. I wasn’t allowed go to a disco until I was 14.
  8. My first home was in Leixlip.
  9. In one year in school I played on the following teams table tennis, hurling, rugby and athletics.  I also played gaelic football.
  10. I had to write an essay about myself in 6th class. My Mother made me write that I was unique as the closing line. The teacher wrote after this ‘how very very true…’
  11. I had an action man who eyes used to move. His eyes looked dirty so I cleaned them with bleach. This removed the blue and looked quite scary. So I cut off his fingers with a pliers.
  12. He refused to marry my sisters barbie. That caused an argument.
  13. I have not taken a summer holiday since I started horticultural college at the age of 17
  14. I still call my younger sister Jackie ‘snotser’
  15. I used to wear camouflage clothes and crawl around the garden thinking nobody could see me.
  16. The first seeds I ever grew were radish. I was 4
  17. The first bulb I ever grew was a hyacinth. It cost 17 pence. I was 5
  18. The first cuttings I ever took were geraniums. I was 11
  19. I used to own a grifter [bike]
  20. I thought myself how to play guitar when I was 14. I still play
  21. I once busked on Grafton Street and made £1.74 – one pound of that was in sterling
  22. My Dads Dad [my grandfather] was in the special branch
  23. I never met my Dads Mom [my grandmother]
  24. I was born on March 2nd 1976
  25. When I was ‘small’ my favourite snooker player was Terry Griffiths. My brothers was Steve Davis
  26. I used to cut grass for pocket money
  27. I was in the cubs and the scouts.
  28. Me and my brother disassembled a Bastille Day rocket bought for my oldest brother and set it alight on the window ledge. As we closed the window the curtain netting got caught outside and burnt. We fixed it with white thread and tipp ex.
  29. I am God Father to my best friends [John & Siobhán] child
  30. I have two dogs. Whitey – who is black; and sparky who is not very intelligent
  31. I take a size 13 shoe
  32. My first car was a Citroen AX 1.1. It cost £2,000. The insurance cost £2,119. I was 22.
  33. I owned an MGB GT for 8 years. I sold it for €1 this year. It was previously owned by a man called Jack Taylor.
  34. The first house I bought was a one bedroom dormer bungalow in Balbriggan.
  35. Because there are so many children in my family… when we were being called for dinner each name was shortened to one syllable. Peter became Pee. Which is what my close friends call me.
  36. My Dad once told me he’d cut my fingers off. In fairness I did take most of his tools apart…. to see how they worked. I now know he was joking.
  37. When I was 8 my brother Fran told me that the only way to get hairy arms like my Dad was not to wear a jumper and that my body would grow hair to keep me warm. I think it worked.
  38. I once ate an entire Vienetta ice cream cake in one day. My older brother and sister got the blame. The week before I had been given Sunday ice cream in a bowl that previously had ham in it. I don’t like salty ice cream to this day.
  39. My Grandmother had false teeth. I still think she can hear me when I speak about her.
  40. She bought me a key ring that said ‘worlds best gardener’ on it. I was 9.I still have it.
  41. When I was younger I wanted to be a stand up comedian. My teacher in school told me: ‘stand up and everybody laugh at you’.
  42. My favourite team is Arsenal. I once wrote to David O’ Leary. But he never wrote back. I hope he reads this.
  43. The first country abroad I was ever in was France. Carnac to be exact.
  44. My family used to have a caravan in Arklow. We lost the key to it and used to have hoosh my brother through the bedroom window.
  45. I don’t like horror films. I do like funny ones. My favourite are The Marx Brothers.
  46. I used to have long hair. It goes curly when it get long.
  47. Once I went to sleep in the back of a neighbours truck. I have also slept in a hedge. The hedge is warmer. It was a griselinia.
  48. The most dinners I have ever eaten in one day is 8. I was in Clonmel.
  49. The first song I ever thought myself to play on guitar was The Rolling Stones Paint it Black
  50. The first Band I ever saw in concert was The Hothouse Flowers
  51. The first [vinyl] record single I ever bought was George Harrison. The first vinyl album was David Bowie ‘The rise and fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars.
  52. 3 of my sisters are originally red heads. When I don’t shave I get a tiny blotch of approximately 1″ square of red come through my beard
  53. I have never bought myself aftershave
  54. I have never asked a girl to dance.
  55. In my leaving cert mock German exams I got 19% intentionally. I had a German girlfriend at the time
  56. In the April – May of my first year in business it rained for 5 weeks solid. I was living in a rented room. It was the first time I had cried in a long time.
  57. For the craic once, I went into a police station and asked for a big mac and large fries
  58. I went to electric picnic this year only on the Sunday. Apart from the clothes I was wearing I only brought €150, a roll of toilet paper and a roll of sellotape. I slept in a plastic bag.
  59. I used to write Jake on my knuckles in black marker.
  60. The most times I ever watched the blues brothers in one sitting was 12
  61. The last time I was in a fight I was 14.
  62. When I was 6 my Dad gave me his old briefcase to use as a school bag. One morning I put mine in the place where his was. He arrived at my school to exchange shortly after.
  63. I once used a  bin lid as a frisbee and threw it through the kitchen window. My brother was meant to catch it.
  64. I was sent to bed for a week when I was 7 for letting the hand brake off my Moms Citroen 2cv. It rolled out of the drive way and hit the pillar on the far side of the road with me in it.
  65. I was thrown out of piano lessons after 2 years. We didn’t own a piano.
  66. After reading the Random Acts of Kindness book I bought everyone in the café on Westmoreland Street coffee and a cookie anonymously.
  67. I do not wear pyjamas.
  68. I am afraid of flying. But I still do.
  69. I ran the womens mini marathon 2 years ago under the pseudonym of Petra Donegan
  70. I used to have an Italian girlfriend called Petra when I was 15. We broke up after 3 weeks when she returned home.
  71. I still turn the first middle cigarette of every box upside down for good luck. I have only not done this once when I was 14. I got caught with cigarettes by my Mom that day.
  72. I still bang my right elbow after I bang my left by accident. My sister also told me this was for good luck. Now after I bang my right elbow, by accident, I bang my left twice and then my right once more. She told me this one when I was 8.
  73. The most donuts I ever ate in one go was 25.
  74. I want to grow my hair long again.
  75. I prefer red wine to white
  76. My favourite drink is Guinness
  77. I have only owned 3 pairs of black shoes since I was 20
  78. When I moved to Scotland, Aberdeen [Stonehaven]. I decided on a Wednesday. I had nowhere to live. I had never been there before. I moved there on the Friday. I had a job organised but nothing else. I found home on the second day in an apartment over The Queens Hotel.
  79. When I lived in London my address was Clonmel Road, London. It’s near the seven sisters tube station. I had just left Clonmel Co Tipperary.
  80. I don’t mind wearing odd socks.
  81. I once smoked pot pourri to take the smell of cigarettes off my breath.
  82. I think all politicians should be made have a real job as mandatory before they are allowed get elected.
  83. I own a mandolin, 6 guitars, a tin whistle, a harmonica and 3 sets of bongos.
  84. I have never received social welfare as an individual or a grant in any format as a business
  85. I like to close my eyes when it rains softly so it tickles my tongue
  86. I did a business plan when I was 19 for a garden centre with a coffee shop. The bank manager told me if I got rid of the coffee shop part [he thought the idea ridiculous] he’d loan me the money.
  87. I would like to be a member of the band The Riptide Movement
  88. I still speak in Irish. [As Gaeilge]. My name in Irish is Peadar O Donagáin.
  89. I used to have a weekly column in the farmers journal newspaper.
  90. I don’t like beans on my breakfast.
  91. I prefer coffee over tea. I like it when its made from real coffee beans. But I hate watery coffee. I like watery tea.
  92. When  I first moved house [from Leixlip] I wondered the next morning how the beds moved too. I also wondered when we were going back to our real home. My Dad told me this today.
  93. My favourite fruits are grapes and bananas
  94. The Beatles poster now framed in my living room has been in every home I have ever lived in since I was 17.
  95. I only have 3 chairs at my kitchen table. One of them is odd. They used to be my parents. The kitchen table used to be my sisters.
  96. I like art. I like art that I start to day dream at when I look at it. I have only ever bought one painting. I bought this in the Dominican Republic.
  97. I think I’d be a great Dad. I haven’t really spent much time thinking about it though.
  98. I was extra in the film ‘A Tigers Tale’. I have never seen it. I never told anyone. My friends said they saw me in it.
  99. I like to sing in the shower.
  100. I need a new maximum minimum thermometer. I bought my first one when I was 19
  101. My eyes are blue.

If you really read all of that, consider seeing a therapist.

For the record there is no significance in the order, and they do not include the things I regard as the most important.

silicon republic… technology for a gardener #9

The entire list of companies for ‘technology for a gardener’ is/will be here.

...and gadget republic

...and gadget republic

This is piece #9. This is Silicon Republic.

Silicon republic in my eyes like a who’s who sort of what’s what online publication of anything technical related. It is the Reuters of the techie industry so to speak. If there was ever anything I wanted to use, buy or try…. this is where I search first. Put very simply, if it ever had a 3 pin plug stuck to it or its not an abacus…. you’ll find it first at Silicon Republic.

With an average of over 81,000 unique visitors and 150,000 page views a month this is what they say:

Siliconrepublic.com is Ireland’s leading website for IT and business decision makers. Along with its sister publications, Knowledge Ireland, e-Thursday and Digital Ireland, Siliconrepublic.com provides a critical forum for decision makers that rely on our individual mix of news, views, comment and analysis to stay informed of strategic tech industry developments and to ensure their company is making the right business and technology decisions.

Thursday 26th February [yes a while ago now…] 2009 saw Silicon Republic writer Marie Boran review The Donegan Landscaping website/ blog. A long with 3 others here’s what she had to say:

This week we take a look at some of the best business blogs from around the country. Being an internet-savvy businessperson doesn’t just mean visibility for your product or service – it also means engaging with customers and potential customers in a way that grows trust for you and your brand.

Peter Donegan landscaping

Peter Donegan

While the aforementioned blogs are good examples of tech-related firms connecting through their blogs, it’s vital to see other sectors get involved.

With his gardening blog, Peter Donegan is a well-known personality on the Irish blogging scene. He says he’s no “techie genius”, yet his dedication to an online audience proves that even the tech-shy should embrace this medium for their business.

you can read the full review at the Gadget Republic Website or at the irish independent blog digest. Three other blogs were reviewed and well worth a visit. They were Niall Larkins BlogeWrite by Gordon Murray and Jason Roes Blog.

What more can I say…. go take a look for yourself and let me know what you think.