Speaking: Biodiversity and Climate Change Conference

I last spoke with Eanna when I acted as MC and speaker for The RHSI Garden Show at Russborough House in 2019. This time, my talk will be something entirely different and I hope inspiring.

I look forward to seeing you there,

Biodiversity & Climate Change Training Conference:

  • Hosted by: Louth Leader Partnership
  • What: Biodiversity & Climate Change Training Conference
  • Date: Wednesday, 25th of March 2020
  • Venue: Fairways Hotel, Dundalk
  • Time: 9.30am to 3.00pm
  • Tickets: via Eventbrite

Speakers: Read more

Side Garden Ideas: A Fruit Tree Hedge

fruit tree hedge

I’ve already noted the fruit bush hedge, which may be worth a read before you read this; in fact, recommended you go read that and then come back here and read this, in order for this to make sense… if that makes sense 😉

Back over here… Organised but disorganised within, this was prior to an odd little bit of a garden space. Geographically, it lies to the side of the home, as versus the back or front and really, it had become a little of a no mans land that just didn’t sit right in any ones mind. There was a sort of unknown unease being there; a little like Del Boy and Rodney and the time they turned up to that funeral in the Batman and Robin costumes…. God that was funny ! Point taken.

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Diverse Gardening

peter donegan

Outside of the window from where I type now there sits a compost heap. I don’t know whether I should call it that as I have never actually taken compost from it. It does its thing, bothers no one and just as it’s getting ready and maybe believes that I might put the wellies on and jump inside, reality kicks in.

I may never actually use my compost heap….

I need to be honest about these things. I know people who like to jump in and turn the decaying material over. If you enjoy that sort of thing, brilliant. But, personally, it’s just not for me. Are either of us wrong ? no. The reality is quite simple, my boundary hedges alone will keep that area of my garden full for the rest of it’s life.

What are my options ?

One could suggest that I get rid of the hedgerow and build a wall or even a fence. And before I even go near that as a topic, the hedgerow looks as [or more] unkempt as the green waste heap.

But In my mind life works really well with a symbiotic sort of relationship. I don’t tidy up the hedge, thus the brambles get to grow as they should and in return I get fruit. Free fruit.

Then again, I’m in competition with the birds for that. But then again I’ve spent ages trying to encourage birds into the surrounding greenery and now they are here…. I guess it’s fair to say we have an understanding in that I and they take as they wish and can. I must admit I really like their singing. It makes me smile. So far so good.

Somewhere along the road someone decided to put a name to this getting on with each other business and [in short] called it biodiversity. For a while I thought someone had set up a new band or dance group, but it turns out they were talking about the birds and the bees. I guess I just didn’t realise I had been doing it for so long.

A pile of logs chucked in the corner…. check.

Bird box…e..s….. yes. check….

I was beginning to wonder if I was at some sort of gardeners pub quiz. It was so easy and much easier than being a grow your own fanatic. No offence an’ all.

From a previous blog post I’d written, the check list suggests you plant a native, in your/ my case Irish, tree. I like to go a stage further with that one and try to plant a native Irish tree every year. If I haven’t got a spot in my garden or simply can’t find one this season, I give one away as a gift, planting included. No excuses – and pretty cost effective I should add. Also the bird boxes are in there which can be easily made at home and painted, another great gift.

Next up, is rain water harvesting. We have been here before. Although recently at a friends house he had very simply made his own from a length of guttering and an old plastic barrel. Miserable so an so I thought for a second. You might say smarter, something I admitted to after, but I bought mine with my bin tags and claimed it back off my year end tax. Either or it’s the thought that counts and great minds think alike.

It’s not until one speaks to someone like young film maker Eoin Delaney [Directing Media] that you realise just what is happening our surroundings. Two days waiting to see if he can capture a fox, on film that is. No sighting. Hares yes. Fox no.

Jane Powers some weeks ago on the SodShow told a similar story with regard to the bees. Bees that are needed for us to have, at the very minimum fruit and vegetables.

Is it all that bad. Is it really, enough for me to give a sh….

No maybe not. At the the very least not in the very rural surrounds where I live. That said in my own garden it took three years for me to find birds nesting. Three years after first planting approximately one hundred and twenty trees. The big flip side is that it’s your garden and not mine and I guess all I can do is say how it works for me and hope you may like a little of what you hear.

Invasive Species Alert – Harlequinn Ladybird

More Information – The Ladybird


  • Common name(s): Harlequin Ladybird, Multicoloured Asian Ladybird, Halloween Ladybug.
  • Why the concern? This is an invasive species of ladybird that was found at two sites in the Republic of Ireland during November 2010. Previous records came from 2007 and 2009 in Northern Ireland (inset map). If the harlequin ladybird becomes established, it will threaten native invertebrate diversity, could impact on the fruit production and be a nuisance in buildings.
  • What does it look like? Variable in colour (yellow to orange to red) (image B) and number of spots (0-20) (images A, C and D). At 6 – 8 mm long, they tend to be larger and more domed than most native ladybirds, normally with reddish brown legs. They may also have a distinctive ’M’ or ’W’ marking on the pronotum (back of head) (image D). Juveniles have an orange stripe on each side of their body (image E).
  • Where might I see it? Entering houses in winter (image C) where they can aggregate on windowsills and walls (image B); on imported vegetables, fruit or plants; and in gardens, woodlands, agricultural or horticultural lands.
  • Date Issued: December 2010
  • For more information or to report any sightings please email or visit


Why the concern? This is an invasive species of ladybird that was found at two sites in the Republic of Ireland during November 2010. Previous records came from 2007 and 2009 in Northern Ireland.


  • This Invasive Species Alert has been jointly issued by Invasive Species Ireland and the National Biodiversity Data Centre
  • Dr. Roy Anderson kindly verified the records which were reported by Ms. Rowna O’ Sullivan (for Cork City) and Angus Tyner (for Co. Wicklow)

Colette O’ Flynn (National Biodiversity Data Centre) and John Kelly (Invasive Species Ireland)


[From June 2010] Press Release – Early warning of invasion to Ireland!

Invasive species can wreak havoc to Ireland’s environment and cost millions to eradicate. In Europe the cost has been put a conservative cost of €10 billion annually. The only way to prevent further invasions is to coordinate action at the European scale. This will be the subject matter of a European workshop hosted by the National Biodiversity Data Centre and attended by representatives from 18 countries on June 1st and 2nd in Waterford.

Colette O’ Flynn, Manager of the National Invasive Species Database vehemently stresses the need to issue Species Alerts as soon as new species are detected to instigate a rapid response.  ‘This is the only way to deal effectively with invasive species as once introduced eradication of invasive species can be very difficult and costly.  In the past couple of years I have seen a very concerning rise in the number of invasive species arriving in Ireland that have caused havoc and huge cost in other countries worldwide’.

Recent Species Alerts were issued for:

  • Muntjac Deer (Muntiacus reevesi) which hails from China and is likely to have a devastating impact on our native woodland species and forest plantations
  • the Bloody Red Shrimp (Hemimysis anomala) from the Ponto-Caspian region which can be found is swarms of thousands per meter squared
  • Harlequin Ladybird (Harmonia axyridis) that has being devouring native ladybirds and other invertebrates in Britain
  • Wild Boar (Sus scrofa) has been seen in a few locations in Ireland and can impact wildlife, be a reservoir for many diseases and have a direct economic impact on agriculture and forest plantations.
  • The most recent Species Alert was issued for Asian Clam (Corbicula fluminea) found on April 13th in the River Barrow in its thousands and likely to impact on the spawning grounds of the Twaite Shad and salmonoid species.

In a bid to tackle the threat of potential invaders, a meeting of the European Network of Invasive Species network is holding a European Workshop on developing an Early Warning System for Invasive Alien Species.  It is hoped one of the outcomes of the workshop will be a coordinated pan-European system to track and alert invasive species developed with the European Environment Agency.

Colette O’ Flynn is particularly concerned about the likely damage that could result from the arrival of three species: Zander (Sander lucioperca), the Signal Crayfish (Pacificastacus leniusculus) and the Emerald Ash Borer (Agrilus planipennis) which is causing widespread decimation of Ash trees in America.

To see what invasive species we have in Ireland and if any are in your area visit the National Invasive Species Database website  If you have seen and of the species listed above or any of the other listed invasive species please submit that information through the National Invasive Species Database website, if possible provide a photo.
Notes to Editor:

The National Invasive Species Database provides up-to-date centralised information on the distribution of invasive species in Ireland. It answers the questions: What invasive species do we have in Ireland? Where exactly are they? The database has been developed as a resource to assist recording, monitoring and surveillance programmes, and provides the infrastructure for development of an early warning system for invasive species.

Invasive species are non-native species that have been introduced, generally by human intervention outside their natural range and whose establishment and spread can threaten native ecosystem structure, function and delivery of services.  Once introduced, control, management and eradication where possible of invasive species can be very difficult and costly; therefore early detection and reactive measures are desirable.

Globally invasive species are considered to be the second greatest threat to biodiversity (after habitat loss and change). Globally, invasive non-native species have contributed to 40% of the animal extinctions that have occurred in the last 400 years (CBD, 2006).

Currently there is no overall figure of cost of the impact of invasive species for Ireland. Invasive non-native species are estimated to cost over £2 billion a year in Great Britain, €10 billion for Europe and an estimated $137 billion per year to the U.S. economy alone.

The National Invasive Species Database is joint funded by The Heritage Council and The Environmental Protection Agency and was established by the National Biodiversity Data Centre in 2008.

For more information contact the National Invasive Species Database Manager Colette O’ Flynn e-mail: or phone: 051 306240.

The Sodcast – Episode 14

sodshow, garden podcast

The Sodshow Garden Podcast – every Friday – in iTunes, all good podcast stores.

Listen to The Sodcast in MP3 – or subscribe/ listen to the podcast in iTunes. Alternatively, subscribe to the blog and listen to them right here. Missed Episode 13 of the garden podcast ?

First Up:

Fancy a little bit of fancy in your great outdoors….? You can contact me on….

This Week On The Blog:

Images For The Podcast:

Links For The Podcast:

An Introduction to Shawna Coronado

Shawna’s links for the podcast:

This Weeks Oddities:

via @bbcscitech Tree diseases ‘on the rise’ in UK
Courtesy @SimonPRepublic and @colmtobin
It’d be a sad day for our democracy if you weren’t allowed dump a tin of paint over a woman digging a hole in a field.

EuropaBio tells me  Crop World 2010: Support growing for GMs in Europe

From last Saturdays The Irish Times Weekend magazine, Jane Powers article is well worth a read. It’s on says Jane
urban hedges, and I manage to slip in the Bonzo Dog Doo-Dah Band too

Via @ScienceGallery Green (war) Machines: US navy completes successful test on boat powered by algae

And Finally: