making [it] your business [to be] a little more green



Can you imagine if every shop front made this amount of effort to the front of their business? Wouldn’t Dublin be that little more beautiful. With construction work, traffic and all of the usual razamataz which might not inspire excitement in your day – what an effect it would have!

We did these planters for Itsa4 restaurant a couple of months ago and credit where it is due, it’s not only looks great, but it is really relaxing to sit outside and have some [really good] coffee. They also did itsabagel. Worth a mention? You better believe it! A decision was made to go the extra green mile and as I said … if the girls of ‘itsA…’ can inspire the rest of Dublin to do something similar then yes, very well worth it.

9 useful… gifts for a gardener this christmas


Most of my articles are questions that are asked and where it has been asked more than once, assuming it can be of benefit to others I put it here. For any garden enthusiast you might know here are my suggestions that ARE 1000% better than socks and a CD.

If you prefer cooked turkey and a kiss under the mistletoe over a good scrap with the mother in law and some frozen sprouts..? Here’s my thinking cap – put it on this year for God’s sake… and your sake and my sake?!!

  1. The maximum & minimum thermometer. The left column tells you the lowest temperature, the right the highest. The benefits for those in horticulture are excellent. We don’t always understand why a plant looks a little down or too early this season a bit perky – this is usually part of the answer.
  2. The chemical store. Not so much to encouarge chemical use but – in every trade there are products that children shouldn’t put up their nose or drink. This also has a sump tray which doesn’t allow chemical spill and a good strong lock. For the gardener it’s usually the top shelf in a coke bottle!! Not a great photo but a super gift for anyone with a knapsack sprayer.
  3. If he still cuts the hedge with the electric trimmers, the extension lead goes through the kitchen window while you freeze your ass off and he can’t hear you shouting…? Just make sure and get a double socket. On the right is a tap! Like the electric cable, through the window soaking the floor and you can bath the kids after in the puddles in the kitchen. Go on splash out…. [hmmm]
  4. Compost bins are great because they are modular. You can buy to suit your budget and/ or simply add on as required to suit your lifestyle. Another article is probably required here but composting in the noughties is a definite must for any garden or garden enthusiast.
  5. For the techie gadget man this is brilliant. A miniature solar panel that allows any contraption with a car adaptor to be recharged…. for free.
  6. A great gardening book is always a great gift. When the elements are against you but you want to be outside, for a little, take your brandy coffee down to the potting shed and reinvigorate your imagination for the season to come.
  7. Trees…. Every garden should have at least one. If chosen correctly they are about as maintenance free as you will ever get. Unlike socks you cant lose one of these, they don’t get holes in them and it should last you a lifetime.
  8. The bird feeder is another easy one, but absolutely brilliant. Don’t forget to buy some seeds to go with… ah yes Grannny look what the kids got you this year something you can actually use.
  9. And finally….. Picking out womenms clothes was never your forté 😉 how about a tidy up, makeover or a new addition to the garden. Pull up the kitchen blinds on Christmas morning and be proud for thinking of something that Mary really wanted.

Beannachtaí na Nollaig agus na hAthbhliana


hedges – formal or informal



 If cutting nee maintaining fine lines of pristine planting isn’t for you then a formal hedge is not what you want. If however you like trimming or cutting from time to time and don’t mind ‘organised chaos’ then maybe you do! But a hedge as we [becoming elder] Irish know it, is something that requires looking after one sunny Saturday per year or so.

For the record and for clarity in this discussion please note the dictionary reference and definition: hedge n 1 a row of shrubs or bushes forming a boundary [source Collins English Dictionary]



If you do follow the dictionary (that I am so fond of reading) translation, then the logroll etched license interpretation that we inherited from the 1980’s becomes something delightfully and excitingly different. The science is that the internodal distance [distance between each set of buds] doesn’t really allow the plant to become ‘formal’ and so informality reigns though anti-symetric uneveness.

In theory if the correct horticultural decisions are made pre-planting then those hedge cutting fathers days can be spent on the golf course or playing croquet rather than bringing green waste to landfill. To clarify, all plants require some maintenance – just not as much, as often or as costly of your time or someone elses. In this day and age they can be bought in as established or mature plants. The two informal hedges above are one year old – to its new owners.

rootballs, bare roots & whips

tree planting

tree planting

All across Ireland on motorways, farmland and construction sites planting is taking place – but time waits for no man, to plant. Some say winter is the quite period for landscaping – I don’t really agree.

There are exceptions to every rule but in general, plants [bare roots/ whips] are dormant in winter. This allows, within reason the plant to be lifted out of the ground and planted without too many concerns apart from keeping the wind from the roots and/ or preventing them drying out. Because the plant it is lifted and sold [no potting] no added maintenance, costs can be reduced […there are exceptions].

There is one thing to remember – most bare roots and whips are native Irish so if you’ve been following my articles on design, you’ll know you pretty much need a large garden if you wish to buy in larger numbers – or else you’re a big bonsai fanatic! Native Irish [in my Moms language] meaning they’ll generally grow over 30′ tall. If you live near Griffith Avenue, you can have them but be sure you know what you’re buying – intelligent horticultural purchasing is required here.

If you dont fancy maintaining a matching hedge of beech [fagus sylvatica], a row mountain ash trees[fraxinus cvs] or a few specimen hollys [ilex cvs] then you can plant pretty much anytime you want, with anything. Now you must decide if you want formal or informal.

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galway & landscaping.. not in my home[r]

I’ve just returned from Galway where the week truly could’ve only got better. When I visited in August what I found was nothing short of criminal.

The ‘contractor’ had removed the foundations of the retaining wall leaving it falling away into the garden with the driveway. He also took up the trees & drainage pipes but left all the rubb[ish]le, county council road cones & his tools in the middle of the garden. He also took €2500 euro from a mature lady and never returned.

As a favour to the bullying persuasive Fernandes sisters [humour?!!], I went with three of Donegan Landscapings finest to undo some of the disgraceful disaster inflicted upon their Mother.

What I don’t understand is how Ireland can support the rogues of this Country in the belief that they are saving a few quid [sorry Mam] or that there is a better deal out there? To be honest it’s an ethos I don’t subscribe to, never have and so I can’t explain why it continues to happen. To put it in context, the original €2500 plus a new wall, the rubbish removal, the new soil, the drainage… has left a rotten after-taste costing at present over €15,000 to rectify. I’d personally like this guy to be imprisoned, but it would cost the state too much money – which indirectly I’d have to pay anyway.

A landscape programme has yet to be implemented but for now, the retaining walls are brand new [thanks adrian], the soil like gold dust [thanks peter eile], the weather gave a mild sun tan and the lads, well they done as they always do, perfection. Thank you all sincerely.

For those of you with horror stories speak loud and prevent more of it. For those of you about to embark on a landscape project chose carefully, know what you want, pay for it to be done once and enjoy. If you want a good laugh watch The Simpsons on screen, not in your garden.