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The Tribesman – Our Great Outdoors

peter donegan landscaping

This week, nee the last twenty four months, have been a mass roller coaster of highs and some lows for me in every possible sense of being a horticulturist. I am fully aware it has been like that for a lot of businesses, but I can really only and honestly refer to myself and my experiences.

Back to it, in my mind and in my humour I like to say that that depends on how you look at it. In reality, I think I knew what I was getting into as regards the landscaping industry when I started growing plants under my bed as a nipper, when I went to college to study horticulture and further when I started my own gardening business almost eleven years ago – in Ireland.

The reason the last twenty four months have been particularly tough is more reasoned by the weather than anything else in my opinion and the snow last year did more than beat the stuffing out of plants. It really did take a lot from people like myself who are reliant upon the great outdoors for a living and as a way of life.

In terms of how tough it was…. well, you can quote me on this

I’d rather be held down by four hundred Oprah Winfrey fanatics and made watch the double season finalé episode of Desperate Housewives than go through it again.

But whilst hindsight is a great thing, I realise and know that the weather in this little island has always been contrary. What it has equally made me realise is what a great country we do live in and how more than ever when times become a little rocky do we depend on those we know best.

More than that, I think I began to realise that as a gardener based in Ireland – sub category – Dublin – sub category – North County, Fingal – that the guy who manufactures, invents, makes and creates, employs, sells and services in a sub category most closest to my home was the business I really should be going to. In short, shopping local. Or, as local as is possible.

In the grander scheme of thinking, the weekend past has seen Irelands largest gardening event, Bloom In The Park, just pass us by. It is phenomenal to think that just five years ago there was no garden show for Ireland.

To put in context what it has achieved, last year almost sixty thousand people crossed the ticket barriers of the largest annual gardening event in the country. That, one should bear in mind in just five years in operation. Contrasted with The Chelsea flower show, on the go since year dot and it attracts around one hundred and fifty thousand guests per annum.

But Irish garden shows don’t simply stop at the gates of The Phoenix Park – there are many,  many more around the country and in saying that I realise quite quickly that there are a lot more great people in this delightful little place I like to call home.

I’ve always had a theory in my head that to get a staunch non gardener, outside – into the great outdoors is a logic first stepping stone. Be that as discussed in last weeks article, via my non gardeners group or, as I found myself doing in the depths of autumn some years ago, down at the Irish Conker Championships in Freshford in Co. Kilkenny – and the more I think about it the more I see that all over Ireland there are so many unsung heroes in so many villages striving to make a something a little brighter and very much for the better.

In my own little village, a population I believe that at the last census had no greater than six hundred people and within, there sits a pitch and putt club. Two of the volunteers, a husband and wife team, aren’t even from the locality. That, makes me smile.

Vince, the husband, was seventy years young just two weeks ago.

I know that there are Tidy Towns committees, horticultural societies, village fairs and fetes, to name but a few examples, being organised all over the country, literally as I type. I also know that somewhere in between my front gardens and the end of the road I may have only enough time to say thank you, to applaud or even just to admire the work others have done. More than that I know that this business, in whatever format, that I like to call the great outdoors isn’t that bad after all.

Maybe, I just need to be a little more like Vince.

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The Burren Smokehouse

Whilst at Bloom 2011 I had the pleasure once again to meet with Birgitta Curtin of The Burren Smokehouse. Set up in 1989 Birgitta’s family run team were most recently noted for their salmon as used in the dinner hosted by Queen Elizabeth during her visit to Ireland.

Of the many types, I did ask Birgitta about her organic salmon, just one of the reasons why she is featured on this weblog. The other[s] you may ask…. another great Irish product employing at present twelve people in Lisdoonvarna.

My favourite, as well you can see is the oak smoked.


The joys of audio 😉