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bulbs – planting starts now!

bulbs...

bulbs...

You want spring colour in your garden, but you and I know the gardeners summer holidays is just after the sprouts and turkey, when you most need a little inspiration and even the garden is looking a little lazy. Grandma’ and the relations have just moved back home and you’ve got to go outside semi-unthawed and breath some life into the earth. Why not plant your bulbs now and look out the window!

The bigger the bulb – the better the bloom Your bulbs should be healthy, free from blemishes and nicely plump. Depending on the natural size of the bulb, bulbs that are too small don’t always flower in the first year and larger bulbs produce better flowers. Avoid dessicated and withered or those with symptoms of mould or rot. Bulbs that have been overexposed to light or warmth in storage can begin leaf growth which usually results in an immature root system and ultimately weak floppy stems

Best planted in clusters Plant in Autumn or early winter before the ground freezes. The biochemical process requiring low temperatures in order to flower is called vernalisation. Depth of planting as a general is usually three times the height of the bulb but this may vary. With rhizomes and tubers for example, shallow planting is a must and both should be placed tops level with the soil surface. Tuberous roots must be placed with sufficient depth for their fibrous roots with stem buds near the surface.

Planting Tips Make a hole using a trowel, shovel or a buy yourself a special bulb digger. Bulbs don’t need great soil but they do need good drainage. Chicken wire over the soil will prevent squirrels from eating the bulbs. To encourage growth use a bulb fertiliser/ slow release bulb food rather than bone meal. Deeply dug bulbs divide slower and require less lifting for division. Sharp sand can be used or added for extra drainage and/ or deep planting. Plant bulbs as soon as you can after purchase. If you can’t – store them in a cool dry place or in a refrigerator.

Do remember this is a general guide to bulbs. If you have any further questions, queries or requests you can as always post your comment on the weblog, email or call me. I must also mention it is positive ageing week running until October 6th their website is well worth a visit. Light up your life, plant some bulbs and as always enjoy.

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irish horticulture worth almost €1 billion

good landscaping

good landscaping

Thanks to Bord Bia we do have statistics on the irish hortiultural and so much more. But I never thought that a magazine outside of The Emerald Isle would cover the value of our hortiultural market. This article titled Irish landscape market hits high was published in Horticulture Week in August 2nd 2007. If you told me this ten years ago, would I have believed you?

The value of the Irish commercial landscaping market is at a record high, Horticulture Ireland has revealed.
The organisation, set up by the Irish government to promote the industry, announced at last week’s Kildare Growers Trade Show in Naas, Co. Kildare, that the market is worth almost €1bn (£673.8m).
Development marketing executive Gary Graham said: “Early estimates suggest the value of the Irish commercial landscaping market is at least €860m [£579.4m]. It’s the highest so far and everyone’s trying to get a piece of the action.”
He also revealed that the industry has experienced a 42 per cent growth over the past four years.
The increase is a direct result of Ireland’s booming housing and commercial property market, which has led to a rise in the number of public spaces and landscaped gardens required by developers.
Figures (from Irish market-research company Sherry FitzGerald) show that the office market in Dublin alone looks to set hit a record high this year.
The amount of accommodation taken up during the first half of the year reached 160,500sq m — almost double the level recorded for the same period in 2006.
However, Graham warned that as new offices are filled and housing requirements are met, the boom could grind to a halt.
“There has been a rapid increase in property values over the past 10 or 15 years but the increase over the past two years has levelled off. People will now be closely watching, waiting to see what the implications are for the sector.”
The Irish Times reported that Irish house prices fell for the third month in a row in May. The average house price in Ireland is now €304,166 (£204,905), 2.1 per cent below the level it was at the start of this year.
But Peter Donegan of Peter Donegan Landscaping said that as that the commercial sector slows, the domestic market is on the up. “The market is two-fold. There’s the industrial side — motorways, hotels and the like — and there’s the housing market, where people are realising that if they landscape their garden their home sells better. People in Ireland have become a bit more educated in horticulture.”
Graham agreed, saying: “The domestic garden market is just getting there now.”

estimates & quotes or the cost of a garden

on tv for the right reasons

on tv for the right reasons

You want your garden and your contractor to be on television for the right reason.

Before you start anything, develop a very general idea of what you want and how much you wish to spend. Select your company carefully and do please ensure with your choice of company that their staff/ horticulturist is qualified and experienced. A good standing in the industry is very important so please, please [that’s twice!] ensure the company is registered, fully insured and is a member of a recognised repuatable association [eg. the landscape contractors association of Ireland]. You do not want an estimate or a prediction and you certainly need some assurance of standards.

Similar to most horticultural tasks, there is no golden rule that suits all when it comes to doing a garden because no plant, garden or lawn [for the purpose of this analagy/ example] will ever be the same in height, age or appearance. Pricing and the calculation of that time will therefore follow a similar route.

If you were to cut your lawn, how long would it take you? Now muliply this by a rate per hour and you should have a cost. The second point is that anybody can cut grass, the question is how well do you want it done and do you want to supervise or will you have confidence in walking away knowing respect for your property and a quality finish will be given at all times.

With regard to landscaping another famous analagy is required. Assume you’re in a supemarket, you have fifty euro and you wish to cook a meal for ten people. Is it possible? and what standard of meal do you want to serve? If you buy two sausages [at 50 cent each] and it takes one hour [at 5 euro per hour] to purchase and cook them – then thats your equation and your garden will cost 6 euro – simple. For your garden, if you choose to get fifty plants and the labour will take two days then the only variance should be the standard of labour and the plants selected. One should understand that plants are sold by pot size, height and how difficult they are to propagate, therefore there is always a ‘cheaper’ price possible when you wish ‘to get some plants’. You must decide the standard you want at more than one level and with that if it suits your budget.

My article, the three quotes rule will also prove very useful here. Whatever you decide, as always, remember you only want to do this once and cheaper can more often be more tearful than cheerful. My advice, if you don’t [and be honest] know what you’re looking for and/ or how it works, then employ a horticultural consultant and pay for the advice. It might be sixty five euro – but it could save you a lot more.

Whatever you decide love your garden and as always – enjoy!

hill of tara – human harp?

the human harp

the human harp

Due to popular demand and with special thanks to Muireann at indymedia Ireland here’s the result of Sundays event which attracted over 1500 people. Muireann also suggested that this website should be checked out when it is updated later today. – I don’t usually edit my blogs – but it had to happen for this one!The original article is attached below.

Hopefully this will highlight a mild flaw in ‘our system’. First the purchase of land for the new prison, then tara and now, you guessed it, make another shambles out of something pretty in this island – a superdump – and then think later? Rugby aside, I know The French wouldn’t take this lying down [pardon my sense of humour?!]

Create a Human Harp???!!
Help Stuart Townsend, Jonathan Rhys Meyers and internationally renowned Aerial Artist, John Quigley create the world’s first GIANT HUMAN HARP at TARA HERITAGE DAY.Hundreds of people are needed to gather at the Hill of Tara on this Sunday September 23rd from 1:30pm to 3:30pm to form the human ‘aerial art’ image of a giant harp and a Tara heritage preservation message. Many of Ireland’s top harpists will accompany the performance. The event will be directed by internationally renowned Aerial Artist John Quigley and participants include Irish born international film stars Stuart Townsend and Jonathan Rhys Meyers as well as musicians, historians and scholars. The image will be photographed from an aircraft at 3 pm. Families are encouraged to bring a picnic lunch.Spectral Q and the Save Tara Campaign are hosting Tara Heritage Day. Spectral Q has created similar human ‘aerial art’ images around the world including the Arctic, Antarctica, the Amazon Rainforest, London, New York, Los Angeles, Geneva, Miami, Toronto, Washington D.C., Copenhagen, New Orleans and others. To see images please check: www.SpectralQ.com The Save Tara campaign is seeking to reroute the M3 motorway to preserve the ancient sites of the sacred Tara Valley. For more information please check: www..savetara.com Directions to Tara from Dublin: M50 to N3 north-go past Dunshaughlin and take left at the Tara sign (about half way to Navan)– follow signs to Tara car park.
Buses depart from Bus Aras, Dublin at 10:30am and 11:30am. Travel time is approximately 45 minutes. Get off at Grogans in Dunshaughlin where a shuttle bus will transport you to Tara.
Buses return to Bus Aras, Dublin from Dunshaughlin at 5:25pm and 5:35pm.

easier gardening – garden nirvana

beautiful kinsale harbour

beautiful kinsale harbour

This was my first ever article written for The Farmers Journal. Originally entitled ‘easier gardening’ it was published under the title Garden Nirvana October 23rd 2004. The great Dr David Robinson had passed sometime before and I remeber via email noting to my Editor Matt Dempsey that having gone through such an amazing life, knowing Dr. Robinson had left a void in so many a persons rather than having simply passed through. Amazing, wonderful and always remembered.

Have a very happy Monday morning and as always enjoy!

Garden Nirvana

‘What a man needs in gardening is a cast iron back, with a hinge in it’- Charles Dudley Warner, My Summer in a Garden, 1871

One of the main factors required in Japanese gardens is that relaxation, not perspiration is the end result. Moss lawns are created, dwarf trees are planted and the use of bonsai means that the garden becomes a soulful experience rather than an uncalculated costly or potentially hospitalised one. So why do we Irish spend in excess of Euro 2.33 billion annually on horticultural products and services.

I am not suggesting that ‘no maintenance’ is attainable through using ‘The Four Universal Energies’ as a theorem principle for garden design. No maintenance is only achievable through Mr Macadam’s ingenious invention, or concrete. I am proposing that there is a balance. The rear of your home does not necessarily need to be a car park nor does it wish to be a compacted version of the rain forests.

When we decide to invest in a boundary shrub like the Leyland – not for our fruit farm in Co. Kilkenny – but for our two-bedroom townhouse in the city, surely we only have ourselves to blame. Would it not be better to invest in a garden concept that requires only one day’s labour per six months? It’s a simple theory. The longer a plant takes to become a saleable product – the more it costs – more important, the slower it grows and therefore the lower the maintenance. This is mainly due to the amount of pruning required and the amount of debris removed. The cheaper quotation in landscaping is therefore not always the answer, at least not long term.

On average spending 3% of the value of your house (wisely) should add approximately 8% – 13% to the value of your home. We generally choose for it to be the last of our agenda when ‘doing up’ the house and usually we have little money left to spend.

The garden should be a place for the heart to unwind. A simple complexion of nature is easier than complex warrants on a tight fiscal policy. The use of select stone with a simple choice of a few slow growing semi mature plants will be a higher initial investment on your property but with no grass to cut, some serenity has been inscribed in today’s diary.

I am a plant lover. I do not wish to blight my green friends with coloured stones. The truth is, sometimes it is necessary to substitute what some may consider to be hard work and an expensive (albeit rewarding) hobby for a cup of tea and a nice view from afar.

This article is not my personal epitaph or biblical manuscript that I wish to impose upon others in any way. Should the scenario be that one has a piece of land, a patch, a rented house or just does not totally enjoy (what is my equivalent to ironing and drying dishes ambidextrously) ‘the chore’ whilst breaking their spine; I believe there is a way to come up trumps and not have to breakdown on each occasion the curtains are opened and you realise koala bears have nested in your prehistoric grounds. You wont be avoiding work, just intelligently reducing your work output.

It is my strong suggestion that if you want a survey done on your house, you do call a civil engineer or architect. If you want advice, or a design for your grounds, pay for the services of a qualified horticulturalist and specify the amount of time you actually will (be honest!) spend in your garden or get an annual cost to maintenance based on their proposal.

The main ‘chore’ or cost is the lawn. Cutting it. Use a mulching mower if you must. Ride on and push (with or without gears are available). With not stopping or starting to empty the grass box at the ‘heap’ you have at the bottom of the garden – this will (by my experience and analysis) reduce your cutting time by three if not four. With a good thick edge to your lawn, which allows you to put the wheel of the mower upon it and reduces the amount of edging you need to do you are now nearing that cup of tea a little quicker. Even better, try sowing a lawn with a dwarf seed or if the area is large enough use a dwarfing agent, which is applied using a calibrated sprayer. Should the lawn be able to go? Turn the entire area to plants and bark much or plants and pebble with a black plastic beneath. Do be careful. Cheaper isn’t always the best and some maintenance will be required no matter what you do.

Don’t curse the thoughts of what should be relaxation. Reconsider and redesign. The whole key to enjoying the life outside your four walls is to make it suit your lifestyle.