Patio Choices: Black Limestone

black limestone naturalAlbeit used in a totally different context, I had noted this stone before when I used it on another garden project. Fair to say, I really, really like this one. What I had noticed however was that the stock images used by the stone companies all [generally] tend to show it with a high gloss finish. Like a new car in a show room. And really they should show you the images with ice cream and crisps and wailing kids squished in the back seats bawling whilst you are stuck in traffic; or something like that.

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Private Garden Landscaping, Dublin

garden landscaping dublin

There are days when I can only but wish I had a doppelgänger. Just so he can pat me on the back for another fine job well done. Big headed much, you may say, maybe. But I really, really like this garden.

I will admit I did make more changes in my mind on this one more than any other space I have created over the last 3 years. But creative and good-looking as the end result, the mild edits in my head were proven wise in the end. Far, far more important, the client [I hate that word…] was happy.

To the garden: In the off centre middle of all this outdoors lies a lovely natural matt black natural stone patio of 16 metres squared, wrapped around and entirely softened with of instant height plants. To the harder surface, I like the way this stone goes from matt to almost a gloss black as the rain droplets make it dapple in appearance; something that never ceases to make me smile.

Behind the scenes, the stone runs spirit-level level against the terrain of the garden, yet from the outer it appears level because of how the planting wraps around it. More than that, I like the subtle understatement the stone makes and put simply, it is pretty darned tasty.

garden patio, dublin timber bin screen

If it be the simple things, I love that the bin screen was not shop bought. And silly as it sounds, if there were awards for hand made timber screens, yup you guessed it, I’d get my doppelgänger to present me with one of them too.

In case you might be wondering, the brief also included a note for not all in the main season flowering plants. You may think that not a good thing [?]. Au contraire and far from it says this plants person, in reality, it just makes it different and in a good way. For me, it quite simply makes the choosing of the plants for their new home that little extra interesting.

Below: The obligatory before Peter got his hands on it garden picture


At this point you’re maybe beginning to wonder if Donegan Pants-Gaping believes he has any flaws at all. And though my photography is sometimes rubbish, my including of the image below is more to give you an idea of the journey that one must take to actually get into the garden. Take a scroll back through the images…. because you’ll see that one has to go the full length of the new space outdoors to get into the new room outside, within a new room outside… if you get me. And in the not one acre sized gardens department, that, is one fine trait to behold.

It is only after completing a garden like this, that I wonder why I wondered why. And though the garden will need a little time to come into its own and the plants a little time to find their orientation; one should never forget that gardens without people in them are pretty darned meaningless spaces. That in mind, I’ve got a really nice feeling about one. 😉

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Q’s or thoughts [?] leave a comment below or drop me a line.

Peter Donegan:

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Dublin Landscaping: Domestic Back Garden

donegan landscaping, dublin (3)

This has to be without question, one of them gardens I put together where the photographs will do most of the talking. I know, it’s unusual. But then there is fine logic behind my choosing to study horticulture and not non moving cinematography.

That aside, you may have noticed that the gardens I make, put together, create, see in my head…. can differ, or vary a lot. I find it good to listen to my clients the people who will use their garden and the newest addition to their home most after it’s completion. It’s also that variance that is that bit of my work [?] that I love so much, that makes no week or day in my and your great outdoors ever the same.

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Peter Donegan:

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Small Front Garden: Low Maintenance

small front garden, low maintenance

As small front low maintenance gardens go, especially those in which a car parking spot is a must I have to admit I quite proud of this one. That and the fact that, where functional must meet softened photosynthetic and as this is not a more private space, meant the scope for Peter Donegan memorial gardens here were limited.

Worth considering is that I could not fit the overgrowth pre-garden makeover shot into one image. Suffice to say at some stage in its former life it was a lawn. Also of note is that the client was not ‘green fingered’ and the budget was not a bizillion dollars; don’t get me wrong, it wasn’t a case of cheapest is best, more a case of done once and done extremely well.

The overgrowth taken down and removed, a semi permeable membrane was laid upon the grass. It was suggested that that should have been sprayed/ treated first with a herbicide. But of the factors required for the growth of any plant, one of them is light and the elimination of this via the membrane ensured that nature, with a little help, would do its own thing.

front garden, low maintenance dublin

Plants chosen very wisely I considered extremes of height in my selection ie. ground level and ground cover planting and those that were instant and immediately above waist height. The thinking behind creates a more open feel; that as versus the herbaceous border type formal tiered backdrop that blocks out the passage of light, if you get me. They were also 75% evergreen and colour throughout all of the seasons.

The pebble is bright in colour, though not bright gold, which just lifts it ever so slightly. Beneath the front window was placed a bench that I made from very heavy duty timbers painted black and a small raised platform beneath. I wanted them, alongside the more mature planting to look like they had been there for some time, though extremely well maintained.

The beauty about this small space, is the maintenance and plant growth per annum ensures the annual cut back, tidy and trim is not a hedge cutters and a skip, but very much more a secateurs clip and a nip.

Aesthetics and fine choice planting aside, personally, I like the fact that this side of the garden has remained free draining. There’s something about that that makes my smile just that little bit greener.

Peter Donegan:

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Donegan Gardens: A Dublin City Garden

Wider rather than longer, this garden may appear quite simplistic, maybe at first glance. For me however, it is one of the nicest small/ city gardens I have ever created.

Don’t get me wrong there are other gardens, more show off pieces so to speak that maybe and of course can come quicker to my mind. The one offs aside and to this case I will note that there is a big difference between the warm home and nice house feel outside and my ticket always, unless otherwise directed by you, is on your behalf to create your garden.

Here my first step was to clad the walls and piers with white-painted timber, allowing the join lines to show and running left to right [or right to left], something that really gave the impression of a far greater and brighter space as it moved out of the seating room to the lawned and planted areas. Vertical lines would have done very much the opposite in working with the existing layout.

Partly down to plant choice, I really like the dappled shade as it flickers against the walls on the bright sunny days. I like the fact that the seating area, a room within itself comes with a view of the entire garden; there is a lovely feel from within of separation from the rest of the garden.

In making the space look greater, timber clad aside, the idea was to stretch the eye to the furthest points; the lawn runs longest from the bottom right hand corner to the top left and the steppings walk from the bottom left to the room now created in the top right hand corner.

Over many other alternates the brighter and smaller in size sandstone cobbles were chosen, again the lean was to creating the feel of a greater space. Though I’m sometimes hesitant to recommend it, the built-in seating and table area was a smart move. I find it helped the finished garden look of existing for some time yet very well maintained.

The planting wasn’t over complexed and was kept to a quite short palette. The choice was to a quite natural flow of foliage and silhouette, allowing for some specifically chosen to have their day on the horticultural podium through the seasons. Outlandish only through the photosynthetic maybe. Of note the tall and thin [note: bright, airy feel of space] dwarfed fruit trees were used to the back wall and for want of a better description by category, the tall shrubs brought in semi mature also helped create that instant existing feel to the new space.

Whether it be the steppings that lead out from only one set of doors though both of course can be used, the seating to the side wall or the fact that there is via the plant choice colour for all seasons and intrigue when maybe there shouldn’t be, or very simply a decent sized lawn, this garden for me, works.

My personal test as to whether I like or love a garden always comes down to the question of whether I would happily sit within A specific space outdoors and allow time pass me by. This garden passes with flying colours.

Thoughts, comments or queries:

  • leave a comment below or
  • have a chat with/ contact Peter Donegan

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