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herbaceous plants

herbaceous adj designating plants that are soft stemmed rather than woody
herbaceous border n a flower bed that contains perennials rather than annuals
[source collins paperback dictionary]

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In ordinary lingo, a herbaceous plant is one that although is more like a shrub rather than a bedding plant; it will come up year after year [ie. it is a perennial/ completes its life cycle over several seasons] and it does not need to be replaced as your ‘summer bedding plants would. [if you don’t understand still, thats ok – leave a comment and i’ll go into more detail]

A garden without herbaceous plants is generally quite dull. People tend to have their reasons as to why they should not have them. The main one is that they usually look like a lump of pulp come their off season. That said they do look spectacular when in flower.

The problem in my opinion is that times have changed. On one hand market seems to suggest a lot more ‘low maintenance’ style planting is in order – on the other – people are going back to living ‘the good life’ and the days of plant division and sharing/ swapping with your neighbours may not be so far away again. Thank God!

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The reason in my opinion, I even turned off them for a little, is because the ‘ye olde’ days of gardening was and still is considered for those only of stately home type and sized grounds – it is also the audience to whom most of our writers still preach. The ‘I’m-excited-about-this-plant-you’ll-never-be-able-to-pronounce-the-name-of-but-i’m-ecstatic-about-it-so-so-should-you-be’ type. This I still find can generally come across as extremely boring – and generally speaking it is. No offence. But the fact that those who write so botanically speaking eloquently are still employed; the fact that they speak only of a fashion that appeals to a select demograph – is not the fault of the plant. I have four sisters and three brothers and not one of get turned on by the mention of ligustrum ovalifolium aurea variegata [variegated golden privot by the way].So I dont mention it – like that.

I generally compare this to a boring english teacher, in the case of this analagy, poetry. It is not poetry’s fault. It is not the authors fault. I love poetry. But – sometimes the person giving the sermon is more the destructor than the pupil who is not paying attention. It is why I always do not assume that everyone has the same passion or qualifications as I do. But also that they may wish to – even a little. It is also to eliminate any arrogance that may be sounding.

That aside ‘herbaceous considered’ plants are cool. I like to plant them in clusters and also to hide them behind other clusters of evergreen so that when they do die down, something else is hiding the gap. It may require a good planting plan but – no ‘garden’ is complete without them.

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the most amazing water feature…

This video[s] was taken about 5 years ago now, a good while ago now… but I’ve only gotten around to uploading recently.

It’s a natural piece of sand stone with a hole bore straight through. A light is then placed below water level. It contains a resevoir below the surface which recycles on that water. The resevoirs are a great idea because it means there’s no plumbing required to the water feature itself. It also means you can use the water from your rain water harvesting butts! More than that it means they are very child and pet friendly.

The videos explain it better than any words could. let me know what you think…Funny thing possibly, but, the amount of people who knocked on the door to tell me there was a fire in my garden was un-natural… 😆 what do you think?

organic, recycled gardens …?

...unless you own a truck that is

...unless you own a truck that is

Why is there a picture of a man sitting on a truck at the bottom of this post…? The man is my good friend Thomas. You may know him from his most unusual garden guest post here. But you may also know Thomas from the much famed Irish Allotments – something, unknowns to most, he does in his spare time. All told that makes him a pretty good guy. And he is. Genuinely.

Anyhow Thomas and Máire [another story, but, via genuinely the sincerest gesture of genorosity I’ve ever heard – yes niceness still exists 🙂 ] have just moved out of their apartment and into their first house home. Naturally, like all young couples – the extra dollars didn’t exist for their first garden to look like Southfork immediately… and Thomas being an eco-geek like myself wanted it to have a story anyway charachter.

Tommy, would you like a recycled garden… ?

...organic gardens

...organic gardens

To answer the original question… We had taken apart a garden recently and rather than dump the stone to landfill, I called Thomas. Client also agreed and felt it was very much the ‘thing to do’. A truck was hired for one hundred euro.

What had actually accumulated was

  • 45 metres squared paving
  • 2 tonne of decorative gravel
  • 20 metres squared steppings
  • 25 metres squared cobbles
  • and some chicken wire
  • …and a half sheet of trellice
thomas...

thomas...

I thought of some of my friends, years ago, when the starter home and mortgage deposits were being paid back to the sibblings they were borrowed from [funny thing, a story like that would probably make the news today 🙂 ]. A shed, a fence, a something to enhance the eyesore was required and we all chipped in. All of the friends. There were *no* complaints, it was the done thing. Feng Shui’s weren’t on the wish list. Thomas was starting were I started 🙂

As a by the way he lives in Cork and although I will be there whenever he needs help… I will not be responsible for the final outcome of the ‘design’. Note no.2 is that apart from the truck hire of €100 all materials were taken/ given free gratis. More important. There was a massive feel good factor for all parties concerned. Everyone felt good about this story. Thomas has also agreed to write a little story with pictures of the complete garden and its progress on his weblog:)

So from now, if I do a garden and the client decides/ agrees with the decision to do so – I will take the ‘whatever it is’ to my home rather than to landfill [where possible] and write a post on my blog to see if we can find a good home for it.

What do you think?

small garden… any ideas?

Whether small or large, the size is irrelevant, your garden should still be given the same amount of thought, detail and attention as any other. If you are looking for ideas, you’ve had enough of the January blues and February is the month you really need to make life that little bit brighter… Then here are some ideas to get you in the groove [see the images below]. Believe me a little work now does pay dividends.

Why now – there’s no looking after it really and plants will take this opportunity to settle themselves in their new homes rather than trying to produce foliage/ flower and possibly having a stressful settling in period.

Some of the images naturally required a little more work than others, some you may need a little help to get you out of the starting blocks… others you may be able to do yourself. But if that little bit of inspiration is lacking at the moment and you need to brighten up your day… soon! Simply, step outside, close your eyes and imagine just for a little and smile 🙂

2008, a good year…?

Another year over and what can I say?!! In short 2008 was the greatest roller coaster of a year since I first set up Donegan Landscaping over 8 years ago now. We had some really great,challenging and exciting projects to work on and that of course is down to really amazing Clients. I thank you all so much from the bottom of my heart. For the gardens created –  you, your thanks and your smiles is what made it all so much more worth while. You have all been brilliant.

looking back...

looking back...

Of course outside of that Bloom was only one of the contenders to steal the limelight. What started as a child like dream became a reality. And so the rollercoaster began 😉 Sponsorship was in place, designs were accepted and with weeks to spare… our sponsors decided not to. Par for the course I suppose. It did leave me in a slight pickle and with a very large boat in place already – I decided to go for it. Less so much money – medals were not on the menu. To complete a garden was. The response was overwhelming. And with a theme of recycling in mind, I ended up with a very different dilemma… That of finding a new home for a very large boat. It is here I must thank everyone who helped and also Rick and the 2fm team. Of course the finalé is what brought tears to my eyes. I am so very blessed for the friends I have.

After catching my breath… and to an extreme of sorts, possibly, it was next to the award winning gardens of Brackenstown house that would be opened to the public for the first time for an international sculpt exhibition. To pardon the cliché – no stone was to be left unturned. It was amazing. I know they are not my gardens – but – for the pure poetry that they are, I am so proud to say I wish they were mine 🙂

You may think it would end there. But it doesn’t. Quite recently I returned to South Africa with the Niall Mellon Township Trust. Once again it was a life changing experience. As I have said before all things ‘Peter Donegan’ went right out the window. I was one of over 2,000 people and I was part of a team. I was there to build gardens. I loved every second. It put life correctly inperspective. If I ever thought I had anything to complain about – I was wrong. Life has a new [and correct] meaning.

With that in mind, I think it is only appropriate that I sign off in exactly the same way as I did last year….

2008…. A good year? on one hand no business is ever an easy journey I suppose… but for the people I have had the pleasure to shake hands with this year; for those who stood taller by my side [DG/GC/DK] when life threw and odd one my way…one should really say it was a great year.

Go raibh míle maith agaibh. Nollaig Shona duit. Slán agus beannacht.