Posts

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

all about mary

peter donegan, dr martin & president of ireland mary mc aleese

This was in June during Bloom 2008 with my garden Pour L’amour de Jeux. On the official opening day The President, her husband Dr Martin and entourage came by and stopped at my garden for a chat.

What should you do when you meet the President of Ireland Mary Mc Aleese & Dr Martin?

First, make sure at all times that you prevent yourself from appearing [ish] in any photographs….?!

UPDATE: Of course I eventually did get one really good photograph with President McAleese 

peter donegan, dr martin & president of ireland mary mc aleesepeter donegan, dr martin & president of ireland mary mc aleesepeter donegan, dr martin & president of ireland mary mc aleese

selfbuild magazine, garden time…

selfbuild ireland magazine - peter doneganThis magazine is really good. I like writing for them. In fact I’d have to say my editor Gillian is really cool too! Is that unusual? That said I enjoyed writing this article. Check out the exclamation marks and you’ll understand why!!

This article for Selfbuild is in summary:

Trees are your best antiques

Working from a blank canvass is not alway the best approach to a site. Don’t rip up what could be a valuable asset and learn how to invest in antiques for the future

Just pop into any good bookstore if you want a free read to grab yourself a copy. Enjoy!

Considering the hours, effort and mental anguish that go into the design of your new home, it is extraordinary that the exact opposite is true of the garden and wider surroundings. Most of us give it a passing thought, amounting to not much more than remembering to ask the digger driver to cut a swathe through the mud up to the front door, to be lined with concrete edging and covered with tar later.

Whilst the main thrust of environmental legislation is concerned with energy conservation, there is an increasing requirement to pay attention to the surroundings in two ways. Firstly, to do as little damage as possible to intrinsic features and wildlife and secondly, to create a setting that enhances what is there and helps to blend the new house in with the landscape.

Investing a minimum of 3% of the value of your house on your garden should add approximately 10% – 13% to the value of your home, so read on!

The logical suggestion is to allow for the garden within the entire building budget, and like your house, it can be priced and scheduled prior to work beginning on site. The trouble is, that rarely happens. The ‘oirish’ way, outside of the building budget, used to be to build the house and ‘throw down a bit of seed’. But this is changing. We as a nation now spend over €2.33 billion annually on horticultural products and services. So, is it not rational that the garden receives the same attention as the house itself?

The Landscape Designer

A landscape designer will charge for their design, and also a percentage fee to oversee. Designs will be detailed and will come with a planting plan, complete with a visual impression of what you can expect to see. It is important to let your landscape designer know how much time you wish to devote to it and what gardening tasks you are willing to undertake. No less important is ensuring that your requirements are met, in order to avoid the planting of your designer’s very own memorial. The first step is to get a cost estimate for the landscaping of this wonderful design before you pay for the actual drawings; otherwise you might end up with a very expensive piece of paper that will never become a reality.

The Landscape Contractor

Landscape contractors provide a design and landscaping service. A reputable firm is likely to charge for a consultation, but this is a wise investment, you are paying for a professional service to help you to design the garden. Given the importance of this element to the success of the whole project, the design, build and budget should all be as agreed with you. “Approximate” and “estimate” are not words you want to hear being used. If, on the other hand, you know of work done by the contractor and feel comfortable that they will produce a suitable final scheme, you could start with a rough ‘outline overview sketch’ of what the garden will look like, on headed paper, saving you the cost of the full design service. This should suffice, with a little vision and trust on your part.

Remember! Only use a contractor from a registered list! The association has a rigorous vetting procedure and ensures that all members meet strict guidelines. This also eliminates the rogue trader, the cheaper quotation and the tears that might result from a possible ‘rogue-contractor’. Ensure that your landscape consultant has a qualification in horticulture.

Planning

The site assessment with your Planning Application is a look at how your house will affect its natural surroundings and what you intend to do to ensure that it does not look out of place within its habitat, by planning additional planting. Whilst this is something that is a requirement more often for sites in rural areas, the site map will possibly require you to show what you intend to do with the existing hedges, stone walls, trees and shrubs. Certain species of plants and wildlife are protected, whilst trees are a particularly emotive issue to which we will return later. Very often, as a condition of Outline Approval, the natural features must be maintained. Additionally, building materials should not be stored on the root crown area of the tree and you are likely to be asked to re-plant if shrubs and trees are removed in order to build.

The extent to which you will be required to do the above very much depends upon the attitude of your local council and the area in which you are building. It is however an aspect that should be covered by your architect, preferably working with a landscape architect, before your Planning application is submitted.

Tree preservation orders are increasingly being issued as trees are rightly seen as being central to the character of the landscape, at the same time there is a desire to maintain indigenous species. Taking a tree survey as an example demonstrates the range and depth of information that can be obtained; it can sometimes read more like a medical chart! A tree survey should only be compiled, via your architect, by a suitably qualified arborist [in theory a registered tree doctor] or horticulturist. It’s an outlay that you probably haven’t thought to budget for, but it is an investment in your house in exactly the same way that you are paying your architect. The cost will depend on the complexity of the site but will not include a landscaping schedule; that is a separate piece of work. Remember that this is a professional service and one that will pay dividends in the final look of both house and setting.

Below is an outline of what a tree survey covers:

Introduction

To include brief details of all other significant vegetation, for example hedgerows, a general commentary on tree related problems, tree measurements (which because of their shape will be approximate) and the suitability of trees for retention, but not their history.

The time of year will have a bearing on the above as some signs symptomatic of ill health within a tree may not be obvious in certain seasons any conditions Ivy can also obscure defects and ill health.

The Survey

This will cover the age, from established through to senile, the condition, from good to dead, height and spread including the canopy separately. It accompanies a description of the site based on a scale drawing.

Trees are sorted into categories ranging from A being a tree of outstanding merit to C, one which is dead, dying or dangerous and which should be removed.

The action to be taken covers:

Clean out – removing anything detrimental to the tree’s health, including dead and broken branches.

Crown thin – removing living branches to reduce the weight of the crown and thus resistance to wind, admit more light and improve air circulation.

Crown reduction – shortening the canopy limbs.

Remove dead wood – pruning all dead and diseased branches.

Address imbalance – as the result of deformed growth trees develop an imbalanced crown system. This may not be important except where the imbalance lies towards the house, road or pathway.

Conclusion

The report finishes with a section covering the overall and general future management of the trees and site factors influencing this.

The above is a very detailed survey, but it does demonstrate the extent of the information you can obtain. It’s an informed approach providing the best possible outcome for your trees, which could result in saving the tree – and the expense of removing and replanting.

As always when employing anyone, it’s best to contact a recognised and reputable trade association and choose a registered company with a track record in this sector. Whilst a local gardener or college graduate may be knowledgeable, this is not something for the faint hearted and a legal document is really what is required.

Prepared in association with Peter Donegan Landscaping Ltd., Co Dublin 01-807-8712 Mobile: 087-659-4688 www.doneganlandscaping.com

Reblog this post [with Zemanta]

fertilising lawns…

...

Yesterday and today saw a battered lawn take a spoon full of sugar. Oh yes! Caculated green back to perfection time is 4 weeks.

The days of the old 10:10:20 fertliser have passed however – For the times they are a changin’ – I’m not saying they’re defunct just passed – for me. In horticulture, the science of, where time management is concerned – is so important whilst inceasing quality – in this case this is a revelation [that’s been here for a while].

I’ve used a slow release fertiliser [like osmocote but for lawns]. Briefly, its’s like an M&M sweet[?!] – the outer coat contains the feed within – if the plant [grass in this case] grows at 12-14 celcius then the feed releases – when temperatures go below that – it stops… put simply.

..

The ‘old way’ meant if it rained the fertiliser may be leeched through the soil and therefore had little or no effect. I’ve used Scotts Sierrablen range 14:5:21 + 2MgO which slowly releases feed over a 4-5 month range. This is where intelligence saves money. The feed does cost a little extra but the time saved and moreso only having to treat it once per growing season-ish is partly why.

The spreader [modelled by my good buddy Adam] is really cool. This one has a handle on one side [left as you look] which if pulled prevents it from going to that side. The importance here is that the fertiliser for the lawn is not that which would suit a fruit tree. Hence the name – edgeguard!

The pull handle in the middle means it doesn’t release feed unless you want to… little or no waste.

The green ‘bit’ between the handle and the holder sets the rate of output. A genius invention and so simplistic.

God – if I was getting paid for product placement I’d be worth a fortune… but, the truth is, as much as the people of Memphis believe that Elvis is The King of Rock and Roll – the reality is, there is not much competition to disprove or disagree. The people of Scotts have a really good product. It’s not that I prefer it. It is simply a good product.

If you are spreading – reduce the rate by half. Push in straight lines up and down – and then – go across left to right – normal output rates still apply. Application rates do vary but it’s recommended at 25-40gramms per metre squared. If you’re unsure do a trial run first [I insist!!] or you’l end up with variance in the lushness of your greens. Enjoy!

Enhanced by Zemanta

Urban Garden brightens up Smithfield

The previous article may explain why I got involved in urban garden [click here for previous article] … but I think you’ll find Mary Wier of [and] Dublin City Council organised a day that held in store a lot more than just a good looking horticulturist […that’d be me by the way]. The day really did make a difference.

We do need to make an effort to green up ‘our’ spaces.

I hope you enjoyed it and more importantly I hope ‘you’ took something home with you from the day [apart from a big smile] that will help you green up ‘your’ space.