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john brookes… the career of [book]

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I like this book. A little more expensive than my last book review at €44.70 – but well worth it.

I had about three of Johns book in my library up until recently… but very unfortunately they [and a large amount of others] grew legs and decided to go walkies 🙁

To put in context how good John is –  he was awarded an MBE for services to horticulture 😯 That’s damn good.

As a result, one ‘may’ think that Johns book would have the pants bored straight off you… but if you look [not even] quite closely you will see that the square root of so many gardens of today are equal to that of John Brookes designs. On the go since before The Beatles made it famous – and he is still in fashion.

The best of the case studies of Johns work are included from Zespol Palace Park [poland], Sprinhill Grove [australia] to Samarés Manor [chanel islands] the list goes on….. and he’s done them all. What is likeable also about this book is that it is coffee table style and beautiful enough for a non-biblical-botanist to browse through…

For myself I like the insight into the mans past and his career. Admirable. Astonishing. Love it.

i’ve got a feeling…

before reading one should refer to this post.

peter donegan garden designer in 2002Throughout college, before and until I set up Peter Donegan Landscaping Ltd I endeavoured to take the better position horticulturally, for my career. This meant little money, long hours, work very hard and learn faster. My age possibly didn’t help. But by 24 I was already a teacher, a landscape manager, senior ground person, contracts manager, consultant, designer and sat on the board for the institute of horticulture – it would always be worth it – long term. It has been.

I remeber one night, an anniversary, two years with my girlfriend [very important !] arriving late home; pre mobile phone days; at 11.30pm. I tried to explain to the good lady still ‘dolled upto the nines’ – in my defence I had parked a Ford 7610 tractor & bulk tanker [milk truck] filled with water ready to go again at 5am, outside her Mothers house… It also had dodgy brakes!

peter donegan 18th century design landscape awardI had worked in garden centres & landscaping companies since I was 16. I had worked two stints abroad. If I wanted, as I have written many times, to work with the ground – I needed to start at that level and work my way up. In hindsight there is no easy route. But, people still walk out of college today and say – I will be a garden designer. If a contractor knows your job better than you do [eg] as a garden designer & vice versa, you can’t be the best at your job [?]. My positions had thought me all of the skills I needed, those an education in horticulture cannot teach you. As important, it had also thought me the business, the people and the industry.

peter donegan landscaping dublin award irelandTwo months before my 25th birthday I set up Peter Donegan Landscaping Ltd. I personally still owed money [college had to be paid for!]. I organised six to nine months credit with 4 main suppliers [including my accountant!] and borrowed the tools for my first jobs from a good friend. Not pretty, some might say, but there was only one way ‘the business’ could go…

The business caused me to split up with ‘the good lady’, twice. No sorrow or blame in that, I just didn’t see her, at all, really… At the time, something had to give. A quote from a much famed article in The Irish Entrepreneur magazine summizes my thinking…

If it failed, how could I ask for a managerial role with another company, when I was unable to do it for myself?

One must appreciate, I loved and love still, what I do. Every single day. Life has always been good. Negatives never last[ed] long – it was always how do I change this; options; choose; do it – and move on. No business is a bed of roses. Of course it’s hard work – it has always been. That will never change. But, when you love what you do and each day excites you, you look forward to it – it is so much easier.

I held off putting any projects up for award until 2006. No particular reason I just wanted my first to be a little special. We had just completed phase 1 of Newport Farm in Donabate, a 55 acre estate 18th century estate.

and the rest as they say is history….

That was the story – for the boring bits – read on:

Qualifications: studied horticulture for four and a half years. certificate in commercial horticulture, Advanced Diploma in Horticulture and the general examination in Horticulture [RHS]. Awarded the title MI Hort by the Institute of Horticulture London.

Other: in my time i have… PRO for The ALCI [Association of Landscape Contractors of Ireland] written for many publications; regular contributor for The Farmers Journal and at present Self Build Ireland magazine. Freelance including The Irish Independent, Diarmuid Gavin Design magazine, Horticultural and Landscape Ireland;

Awards:

2006: Design & landscaping: Newport Farm Donabate – ALCI

2006: landscape quality programme – cert of merit – bord bia

2007: Barr 50 – Forais na gaeilge

2007: Design – Bloom – No Rubber Soul

2007: Design & landscaping: Brackestown House – AlCI

2007: Maintenance: Brackenstown House – ALCI

2008: Quality Award – Bord Bia