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Dublin Gardens: Modern, Low Maintenance

peter donegan, gardens

The thinking behind this garden was very much a modern feel, bright and natural, with lower maintenance to be kept in mind. The latter I feel is something that isn’t entirely apparent at first glance and on a personal note, I have to admit, I really do like this garden. Quite simply, it feels natural and equally as important, it looks good.

The backdrop of the upper back wall is bright tinged purple covered by instant semi mature planting which brings ones eye down to the brighter white of the lower wall. The gardens decked area is similar in feel to the wood cladding of the side walls, this in itself allowing a little more of a natural feel. To the pebble, soft and subtle I like the way it allows an ease of meeting between the two separate finished timber floorings.

peter donegan gardens peter donegan gardens

The plants of choice were just two. But here they were two very smart and well thought photosynthetic investments.

The Fargesia, a naturally dwarfed bamboo is set within the raised beds and used as the backdrop. Personally I love the rustle of the foliage here and in my mind, eyes closed it is as soothing as the sound of water.The alternate may have been to choose the lesser and more vigorous Phyllostachys aurea or P. nigra. Growth rates aside, I prefer the softer foliage and stems of the more feminine Fargesia.

gardens dublin

The other plant of choice, Vinca minor. Extremely low growing, almost flat to the ground, the commonly know Periwinkle will form a tight knitting green cover over its planted area. En mass, in this garden, it looks absolutely stunning. Soft and subtle, it is just a touch similar in colour and feel to the leaves of the slow growing bamboo and when its delicate blue flower does decides to blossom, it simply adds to the natural feel of what is a really fine example of a a room outdoors. The alternate to the V. minor is of course the by far, more vigorous Vinca major.

There’s something about this garden that I really do love. In it’s category, I have firmly placed it up there with only the finest. More than that, it feels good sitting within this space. And that, that feeling, requires just that extra little touch of thought, consideration and imagination.

donegan gardens

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

Peter Donegan:

Garden Ideas: Split Level

split level garden

I created this split on two level garden some time ago now. The one thing I love about it, is just that. Well, that and the fact that, just a couple of metres away, there is a journey to get to somewhere else that isn’t actually that far away.

Surprisingly that’s a bit of a rarity installed in the thinking behind many a gardens. In that I refer to the journey, of the imagination and the within the garden. More than that, there’s something in our Irish genetic make up that makes us want to go around that corner, to that place that feels that little further away. In garden design, that’s a good thing. That intrigue, makes a space more interesting and instills a sense of wonder that is the reason why, maybe, some gardens feel better than others as a getaway, an escape or a haven.

In reality, this garden isn’t that long. ie. from back door to back wall. But with the longest points from one angle to the other used to its best, it definitely does not feel that way.

I like to think of the setting now being slightly Rolling Stones on vinyl as versus brand spanking new shiny compact disc. Partly that has come by way of what the space pre my getting there inherited. It’s also a lot down to the new planting – which was a mixture of semi mature instant and brand spanking new youth – this giving the resulting fresh umph; A sort of looks like its been there for ages, yet extremely well maintained, with a hint of fresh. Behind the scenes however, it was a very different story that began with just a pile of clay.

Don’t they all say you 😉

two level garden

Bloom In the Park. A Show Garden Return ?

donegan gardens

Talking today with Gary Graham for The SodShow, the garden radio show, conversation naturally led to show gardens and the question as to the ‘would I make a return to show gardening’ ? Gary is, in short for those who are not aware, the brains behind Bloom in the Park. Ireland’s premier garden show.

Personally, I’ve a lot of time for Gary. I’ve a lot of time for Bloom. Like it or not, Bloom is good for Ireland; it’s also great for Irish gardening and in that context alone, Bord Bia have done a real sterling job. One which deserves ovation standing, as versus applause.

We nattered back and forth and chatted ourselves into the easily led to conclusion that I missed, sincerely, the controlled pressure that came with the creation of show gardens.

mary mcaleese

For those who aren’t aware, I’ve done two Bloom show gardens:

After 2008, I took a pause. I was busy. I needed to be. I had showy gardens to create, but they simply weren’t gardens that were awarded medals at the end of it, though they did come with good PR.

The reality is show gardeners, to qualify a show garden submission need three strings to their bow. A proven ability to build show gardens, a great design and last, but by no means least, a sponsor. For two years running, I was missing the latter.

donegan gardens, bloom

Would I make a return to Bloom for 2013 ?

Yes, I would. Were this post going live now has relevance is that the work would be much easier less complex if it were to start within the next six weeks. So soon you might believe, but design submission begins around September/ October and whilst I have already the concepts, I like my designs QED ~ ie. without question, on time, fitting its budget [yours or/ and mine], show timing complete before schedule and with all of the ingredients in place ~ pre planned.

Don’t get me wrong, I can create a fine garden within a very short space of time, designs, submitted and accepted. No problem. But if show garden is to be about the, as Gary put it, the showmanship, then a little more homework/ light reading is far better.

As a by the way, The SodShow, A Bloom in The Park 2012 special, an interview with Gary Graham will air this Friday at 3pm and will be available a little later in the evening as podcast.

If I’m to do it and do it rightly and though I’ve always been blessed in that department I’m proud to admit, I’ll need the right people by my side. For now, I guess, I’ve a little thinking to do and for this bank holiday weekend I’ll happily settle for making daisy chains with my daughter, most probably in The Phoenix Park.

Thoughts on the matter/ Fancy a cuppa ? 😉

donegan gardens

Garden Ideas: 5 Uses Of Red In Garden Design

Red in Garden Design

Although it may be considered sometimes mildly bold the use of a feature colour in garden design, when one looks back through the ages and historically we quickly realise there is absolutely nothing new to its use at all.

Red seems to resonate more with some when referring to Oriental themed type gardens – a garden style that uses a usually green or basic colour range, at least when compared to that of the olde English type herbaceous borders. Historic, avant-garde or modern-day, that it is used to lead the eye from afar or [reworded maybe] to draw one to a particular space, in its most basic explanation what it does is change entirely what would have been a pretty bland and monotone photograph.

The following examples and explanations show that there is little variance behind the theory in the usage of the colour. More than that it also shows when used correctly just how effective one colour can change the entire feel of a gardens design and your space outside.

1. The Monte Palace Tropical Gardens

red bridge

On the go since the 18th Century – The Monte Palace Tropical Gardens are one of my all time favourites ever visited. But, can you picture just how boring [?] this image might be if the red was removed ? It may well be exciting to the plants person or horticulturist like myself, from afar or when up close – but as a garden to draw one in – would it actually do that ?

2. A Red Garden Bench

red garden furniture

A stark change from The Monte Palace Gardens of Madeira but – this is the most basic format in which I have used and can show this theory – put simple, a bright colour against a neutral backdrop. A solitary garden seat that prior to was beige and appeared so, aged in appearance on a dark shaded side to the garden that very simply needed a lift. Personally, I knew I liked sitting here – but it just didn’t feel it was entirely me when it was just so bland. Can you picture the grey beige bench ? A much, much happier place to sit and have a coffee now.

3. The Red Dead Tree

red garden feature

Just like the walkway of the Monte Palace Tropical Gardens, the colour palette I used in this garden is a smooth groove from brown to yellow to green – all great neighbours on the colour wheel. What was required was something that would stand out whilst the similar coloured flowering Penstemons were not in flower, yet also compliment when they were. The red-painted dead Sophora isn’t as stark and unusual as one might think in situ – yet just enough to bolt some inspiration into a fairly solid toned plant choice colour base.

4. The Red Satellite

red satellite

Once again the colour palette here is quite close on the spectrum, but it was my recycling of my own satellite painted bright red that created the highlight in this garden. Sometimes it is the mildly unusual, highlighted, that can change the entire image of how a garden is perceived. Just imagine for a moment [once again] if you can how this garden might have looked had I chosen not to use it ?

5. The Red Exhaust Pipe Bird Feeder

red bird feeder

The exhaust pipe bird feeder – a little different, a little intrigue and whilst the planting had a little to go in order to make this image a little more picturesque, it is clear to see that yet again the neutral colour scheme is used to highlight the more unusual. Imagine if you will, that all the plants are red ? In which case I’d most likely have painted the exhaust pipe photosynthetic green.

And the more we think about it – the more we see it. Masses of green with red being used to highlight where we are intended to go towards and what it is the [beauty is in the eye of] beholder actually wants us to see. Highbury Stadium maybe an unusual one to finish off with but as an image, it proves the point – once again, just imagine if you will for a moment, should the seats be coloured green…. or see below.

More info:

highbury stadium

A bit green….

the aviva stadium

*all images by Peter Donegan.

Urban Living In Dublin City

Urban Living, Animating Our Civic spaces12pm to 6pm, [This] Sunday 26th JuneWolfe Tone Park, Jervis Street, Dublin

peter donegan

For the last few years I’ve been involved with a gig called ‘Urban Garden’. In short, it’s based somewhere in Dublin City Centre and the gist of it is… well, my take on it anyway, is that it’s about brightening up a specific part of Dublin City Centre and making it something even more beautiful.

The last year I did the gig, I made a recycled garden…. It started with this….

peter donegan

But this year, I’m going back to how it all started doing some really easy garden demonstrations and chats to help you brighten up your little space outside…. the press release [below] has all the details and more on the day.

To my bit…. If you have a wee balcony, a window ledge or just one or three pots you like to call your garden…. or maybe you wish to pretty up your existing space…. If you are in the city, drop on by and say hello. Did I tell you it’s also free, all courtesy of Dublin City Council. Should be a bit of craic. Always is. I’ll look forward to seeing you 😀

peter donegan

For the Ulysses fanatics who prefer their directions by Dublin pubs… it’s just at the back of The Church [the Pub version]. For the shopaholics, it’s the space just opposite the Jervis Street car park.

The Official Blurb

Dublin City Council, as part of their SUMMER IN DUBLIN programme of events and in association with Down To Earth Theatre Company are delighted to announce a FREE fun filled family event – URBAN LIVING on Sunday, June 26th , an interactive event which animates an urban space in the City Centre through performance and colour.

This vibrant event maximises the use of Wolfe Tone Park, a key Dublin City public space in the heart of the Capital by animating it and transforming the space into a creative hub where visitors can relax, learn and be entertained by an engaging programme of music, circus and gardening workshops.

Ireland’s top Circus performers JOHNNY ‘D JUGGLER and THE OTHER BROTHERS, walk in Circus workshops, stilt walkers, face painting and a 24 piece Barbershop Troupe – Blue Heaven will engage and entertain audiences young and old.

The innovative, award winning landscape gardener Peter Donegan will preside over gardening demonstrations, sharing his thoughts and ideas on how to get the best out of our urban spaces including using quirky recycled household objects!

Naturally Wild’s, Dale Treadwell engages with young people as he looks at the different wildlife that enter our urban habitats with his highly entertaining show LIFE IN YOUR OWN BACK GARDEN.

Market stalls, trading in hot and cold foods, delicacies and confectionary will also be in Wolfe Tone Park – so why not dine al fresco in the open air picnic area?

Urban Living will take over Wolfe Tone Park, Sunday 26th June from 12 – 6pm, a FREE event not to be missed! Urban Living is brought to you by Dublin City Council as part of their SUMMER IN DUBLIN programme of events.

For more information on URBAN LIVING please contact Grainne or Shane on 01 4089750, check out our web page www.dteinc.ie or http://www.facebook.com/event.php?eid=153440944725027 and for information on SUMMER IN DUBLIN check out the Dublin City Council website www.dublincity.ie

Urban Living, 12pm – 6pm, Sunday 26th June, Wolfe Tone Park, Jervis Street, Dublin

peter donegan