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Create Your Family Garden

If I hear the word….

…in these recessionary times….

…one more effing time, I may just spontaneously combust. I’ve had it. I’ve had it the media, with RTE, RTE Prime Time, RTE Frontline, The Week in Politics, RTE news and you can throw your man Vincent Browne right in the middle as he joins the conga party bus just as sure as one more government gaff hits the headlines. This all before I don’t pick up a newspaper.

donegan landscapingI watched the youtube clip of Shane Hegarty on BBC news – yes folks, BBC news – as he spoke about the Great Things About Ireland campaign. He yapped about red lemonade and how a wake may turn into a party, our sports and our language…. I began to smile as my mind wondered, child like, as if I was in accounting class on a warm summers day, starring at a single cow in a field…..

I don’t watch the news. I don’t watch much television. I definitely don’t watch anything that may devalue my happy head. On the one hand I spend too much time outside. But I’m happy there. I love camping in the rain. I love climbing trees, still. I love good news. I admire people who smile. I call it the great outdoors for good reason and as I type this weeks piece I’m taking my caffeine in a mug that says Happy Christmas on it. That’s the kind of happy level I like to be and am at.

I’ve realised just how much time I spend outside though. A lot of that is in other peoples gardens I admit. Towards the point, I’ve got a baby girl now and she’s one and a little bit years young. When I was camping in Lough Ennell we sat on the grass together were I played the ukelele for her while Mom was off doing stuff us adults may consider important. I know I like to keep my mind occupied, which can sometimes lead to moments of ponder. The technical term is daydreaming I believe, but Ella held tight to the sleeve of my t-shirt and sang her own or at the very least the unreleased version of whatever choon I was diddling away with. And for a moment I paused…. I wondered why this didn’t or hadn’t happened at home more often, or at all. I’m hesitant to admit some of the other pre-mentioned options.

What the flip is the gardener talking about this week Mary….?

I’ve taken at a look at my great outdoors you see. I’ve been growing vegetables. I have my fruit trees. I have had pieces in my garden like my red satellite bird bath – a satellite, painted red and turned into a bird bath – but these were or are mine. Not hers or ours. And as I delve further into my thoughts, I realise I am  now potentially reticent of the old, to me, at the time, gardeners I knew back in the 1980’s. I need to change that, in a way.

I need to plant more pretty flowers. Make the garden a place of intrigue and mystery. With hidden places. Not the stereotypical ‘childrens’ garden ie. a slide in a specific space. Not that there’s anything wrong with that. There’s not. But I’d like to have that and so much more. And it’s so easy to do. To design, nee map out the garden in my head.

She will start to walk soon and ask questions and wonder why and explore and…..well that’s what the Haynes Manual on all things Children says and in my mind as I start to doodle I can see that I just need to be impractical. Forget about the manual. Pretend I’m four… easy before you giggle there.

I need to not say I can’t. I need wild flowers growing. Not out of a packet. Just wilderness growing, wild, so I can run through it, even though I might lose things in there. But then I may also find them, which will make me smile. I know she won’t always need to hold on to me to be able to stand you see and then I’ll need a little more than that patch of grass we sat on.

For me, as I see it, the en vogue gig for the general populas may well be growing your own vegetables and it really does have a great role to play in the lives and future of this nations nippers. Very happy I am to see it somewhat take the place of the microwave. But I remember the girls I knew growing up making perfume in a jam jar, with rose petals. I remember making daisy chains. Climbing trees, taking geranium cuttings, picking some flowers for a school teacher…. such simple things, all playing such a huge part in the ever increasing big picture of my time and life not indoors.

As I delve back into my adult head, my horticulturist hat back on I realise that last seasons snow meant that I couldn’t do certain things so that they might be in flower come this year. More than that it meant I lost a season. That means I must now wait until this coming October to plant my trees.  It also means the new hedge that doesn’t exist has a valid excuse. But more, even more than that, this time next year Ella will be two going three. A big difference. And if I don’t do the things I should to my garden now, this season…. well, as her Godfather explained to me, she’ll never be that age again.

I was chatting about this with a gardener friend of mine. I was explaining that my chicken coop is painted pink and white. I will of course openly admit I had a lot of that colour left over from a previous garden endeavour. I explained my thinking, my hands almost directing  traffic as they flapped about in the air etching the garden into nothing-ness. In jesting, we came to the conclusion that if I had had a baby boy I may simply have needed a set of goal posts.

But the horticultural minds considering poetry as versus trigonometry, both agreed that beauty is in the eye of the beholder and the imagination is something that should be applauded and enccouraged, maybe even nurtured. We thought of the seasons, the seasons of nature one needs to pre-empt in order to be able to attract it to your garden so it is there when that time arrives.

Now that I have told myself my story and what I would like that road ahead to have in stock for me…. I think it’s about time I designed a garden for the future and for my family.

I remember some time ago being asked by a Client, who was also a Dad to visit his daughter. She had just bought her first home and had, as he described it an extreme case of the independance streak.

She inherits it off her Mother. Who inherited it from hers…..

He told me.

After a consultation with her and partner a list was drawn up. A wish list, that would make a garden. On the other page, a great big garden doodle. With numbers, arrows and outlines. But, after each item on the list was the ingredients to make that particular piece or space.

The benches, for example, were new railway sleepers, six inch nails, paint and some cement. The planting was seperated into trees, bulbs and then the lower growing plants, bed by bed. The sketch and the itinary were given to the Father. He then framed it and paid me for my time. It was her house warming present and it was hung in the kitchen, by the patio doors.

For each birthday, anniversary or celebration some items, ingredients or were it maybe got a little technical, my time was purchased by the various relations.

Better than the salt and pepper shaker she always wanted. Anyways the garden will be a nice home for that swing I’m gonna make her….

For the weekend that has just passed, Happy Fathers day. And before anyone asks why I didn’t mention Dads day last week….? I of course had to be reminded 🙂 There are reassons why I never buy myself socks.

Contact Peter Donegan:

The Garden Groups Hedgrow Walk

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Todays outing, the fifth for the [Peter Donegan Weblog] garden group, took place today in my own home town of Ballyboughal. Today was the turn for the Hedgerow Walk better know as the Slí na Sceacha.

It did take place I do admit with about a weeks notice, which is a little short. There were enquiries to know if we could do it again when it comes to fruiting season, so if you missed out, don’t worry, just ask me when the next garden group outing is on.

A huge thanks to todays guide Ann Lynch and also to you for coming along. I wouldn’t swap the great outdoors for the world. It is as always made so much more enjoyable however when the experience is shared. Love it !

Listen!

A full interview with Ann Lynch, Hedgerow Society Secretary can be heard on Fridays SodShow.

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The Garden Group – May Summer Outing

The 5th Garden Group outing takes place this weekend coming Sunday May 29th.

This is just a little taster of what you can expect….

Listen!

  • Date: This Sunday 29th May 2011
  • Where: Ballyboughal, The Slí na Sceacha/ Hedgerow Walk – Back Lane Trail
  • Time: 11.45 am

Also: I wrote this post on The Slí na Sceacha yesterday. It explains what and where in much better detail.

  • Details: meet outside O’Connors Pub – the only pub in the village in Ballyboughal
  • Numbers: limited to 15 [can be extended if I give enough notice]
  • Cost: No Cost. With thanks to Hedgerow Society Secretary Ann Lynch
  • Other: I recommend you read the garden group guide. And then read on…. Also Ann Lynch will be speaking about this outing and the history of the Hedgerow Society on The SodShow this Friday – 3pm – 103.2 Dublin City Fm 😉 Below is the route I took on Sunday.

New To The Garden Group:

Recommended reading of previous outings include

Please Note:

As always, if you are thinking of coming along the rules basic principles of logic courtesies as always apply. They are of course very simple.

  • If your name is not on the list [left via comment] – you can’t go. No offence. That said…
  • If you need to drop out – that’s fine but please do so as soon as is possible rather than simply not turn up at all – you not showing on the day may just stop someone else from going. This isn’t to sound in anyway rude it’s very simply because….
  • I don’t get paid nor receive any gratuities for this.
  • If numbers are going over put your name down on the waiting list and give me a call. We’ll fix something for you. Because…
  • The quota is most likely not decided by me. But then this isn’t the national concert hall.
  • Do enjoy yourself :)

Got a suggestion… thoughts or comments below

Garden Group-ees:

  • Booking: via comment here only
  • Contact me: see below. not a problem ;)
  • Dress Code: advised to wear suitable footwear and clothing. s.
  • Duration: 3 hours should see you well – if you are time restricted.
  • Weather: the weather…. your guess is as good as mine.
  • Lunch: I had suggested bringing a picnic. That’s what I will be doing anyway. All things going good it’ll be a flask of coffee and some nice sambos!
  • Anything else: leave a comment below or gimme a call. This is the only post you’ll need to keep your eye on and I’ll update it and let you know via the facebook page and twitter.

Getting There:

This is O’Connors Pub in Ballyboughal so you know what it looks like now. Directions to get to Ballyboughal are below.

By Sat Nav
pop in these co-ordinates
53.522026, -6.267284

By Directions – from Dublin Airport

14.1 km 22 mins
Dublin Airport
Co. Fingal, Ireland
1. Head south toward Swords Rd
75 m
2. Continue straight
0.3 km
3. At the roundabout, take the 2nd exit
0.5 km
4. Slight left at Dublin Rd 

Go through 1 roundabout
0.9 km
5. At the roundabout, take the 1st exit onto the M1 ramp to Belfast/Swords/Balbriggan/Bèal Feirste/Baile Brigin/Sord
0.5 km
6. Merge onto M1
4.7 km
7. Take the exit toward Donabate/Skerries/an Ros/na Sceirí/Rush/R132/Domhnach Bat
0.5 km
8. At the roundabout, take the 3rd exit onto R127 

Go through 2 roundabouts
3.1 km
9. Continue on R129
0.5 km
10. Turn left to stay on R129
5.2 km
11. Turn right at Naul Rd
0.1 km
12. Take the 1st right to stay on Naul Rd
54 m
arrive at destination on right hand side

OR

click here to view the map and add in your own starting point View Map

Contact Me:

Irelands Greatest Garden Group – January Outing

Under immene pressure [water joke in there somewhere], it seems the garden groupees are simply dying to get back into the great outdoors…. me too.

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And so I have a plan… somewhere. It’s late as I write this…  and I have to ask others politely. But I have a date – booking by comments only. unsure of anything ? leave a comment. All updates will happen at this blog post.

UPDATE:

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  • Date: Sunday January 30th
  • Where: Skerries Mills, Skerries, Co. Dublin
  • Time: 11.45 am on location. Outside the front door.
  • Details: I just spoke to Paddy from Skerries Mills who will give a personal guided tour to the group. This is expected to take about 1 hour 40 minutes.
  • Numbers: limited to 20 [can be extended if I give enough notice]
  • Cost: €5 is the best price I could get. Well, well worth it.
  • Other: I wrote this post on The Skerries Mills some years ago. Looking forward to returning. What the flip has this got to do with the great outdoors and gardening ? I recommend you read the garden group guide. And then read on….

In 2008 I wrote this about Skerries Mills:

From how the 55 acres surrounding the mills came into the councils hands, how spontaneous combustion evolved from static and flour and why the life expectancy for those [lucky enough to get a job there?] was only 40 years of age… is amongst the many facts that make the journey extremely enjoyable. Outside of that ‘The Mills’ are self sufficent, financially. That is, they have to break even. And they do, now.

That aside, my other interest was/ is that we ‘are’ going back to the days of water conservation, wind power and home-made; gave me an insight into how ‘not so far away’ we are from those days of old returning.

New To The Garden Group:

Again, I recommend you read the garden group guide. There have been three previous outings, 2 of which were to Irelands Eye and the war memorial park. Nice feature in the Mail On Sunday also.

Please Note:

As always, if you are thinking of coming along the rules basic principles of logic courtesies as always apply. They are of course very simple.

  • If your name is not on the list [left via comment] – you can’t go. No offence. That said…
  • If you need to drop out – that’s fine but please do so as soon as is possible rather than simply not turn up at all – you not showing on the day may just stop someone else from going. This isn’t to sound in anyway rude it’s very simply because….
  • I don’t get paid nor receive any gratuities for this.
  • If numbers are going over put your name down on the waiting list and give me a call. We’ll fix something for you. Because…
  • The quota is most likely not decided by me. But then this isn’t the national concert hall.
  • Do enjoy yourself :)

Got a suggestion… thoughts or comments below

Garden Group-ees:

  • Booking: via comment here only
  • Contact me: see below. not a problem ;)
  • Dress Code: advised to wear suitable footwear and clothing. A lot more to this than just windmills and some of the walks are on grass and obviously up some tight winding stairs.
  • Duration: 3 hours should see you well – if you are time restricted. Skerries is a beautiful town however. I might stay on a bit longer.
  • Weather: the weather…. your guess is as good as mine.
  • Lunch: I had suggested bringing a picnic. That’s what I will be doing anyway. All things going good it’ll be a flask of coffee and some nice sambos! There is a coffee shop there that does nice lunches but – I’m told we can sit upstairs in the gallery and you can bring your coffee/ lunch up.
  • Anything else: leave a comment below or gimme a call.

Getting There:

If you are travelling from Dublin city or further afield by car and you have room and you wish to note it in your comments that you have room please do… nothing worse than 2 getting the bus from the same spot and two driving in a car at the same time…. you get my drift.  Anyhow….

By public transport:
Suburban train heading north from Dublin stations Connolly, Tara and Pearse take the Drogheda line stopping at Skerries. The route for Pedestrians from the train station to Skerries Mills is signposted and is an approximate 5 minute walk.
Bus no. 33 from Lower Abbey Street in Dublin City Centre, via Swords, Lusk and Rush. Alight at the ‘Holmpatrick Church’ stop and walk 2 minutes into the Town Park via Miller’s Lane.
By private vehicle:
Skerries is signposted off the MI motorway via Balbriggan from the north or via Lusk on the R127 from the south. The Town Park incorporating the mills is located at the southern end of Skerries. Follow the brown heritage signs for Skerries Mills. Ample free parking is available.

Contact Me:

Mountjoy Square Park

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According to the Dublin City Council’s website:

Located in the centre of Mountjoy Square, once Dublin’s premier Georgian area, and comprising 1.8 hectares, this park was originally created by the Developer of the Square, Luke Gardiner, Lord Mountjoy around 1800, as part of his grand concept which envisaged the great sweep of Gardiner Street down to the Custom House.

While the Square was upgraded in the late 1980’s, its full potential as a Georgian Park must await the relocation of the existing all-weather sports area currently under active consideration by the City Council.

Funny thing is, I don’t know where the pitch or the people who use it would/ could go if the all weather pitch was relocated, that is assuming the park is for the people. That said, I would also like to see it returned to its original concept. But then that’s all very good for me to say. Either or I like the park, although there are bits of it I simply just didn’t get. That said I was happy to be there and enjoyed my stroll. Sincerely.

I didn’t like the fact that the gates weren’t open on all sides and the Dublin Bikes Scheme stand was empty. The pottery around some of the trees baffled me but then that was balanced by some new planting and what appears to be a corner of the park for leaf mulch. The play ground was being used when I was there. The more junior nippers were in one area whilst the not so juniors were in the one next to it. The people were friendly and as tourists watched with maps from outside one Mom explained to me how the electronic dance game worked with a quick Mother Daughter demonstration.

I liked the rambling paths. The sculpt in the middle made me walk up to it… but I’ve no idea what it represents. Sometimes it’s better that way. I liked the piles of raked leaves and wanted to kick them everywhere…. the trees were all pruned and crown raised above head height so one could see everywhere from anywhere in the park. I saw wallflowers freshly planted and the hedges nicely cut screened the football area.

The park does need some extra added attention in no specific area and it seems, at this moment there’s a bit of everything there, which is good, but aesthetically it doesn’t do it justice. That said, I’d be quite proud to have this park on my doorstep.

Wikipedia gives some really interesting facts on Mountjoy Square

Mountjoy Square (Irish: Cearnóg Mhuinseo), one of five Georgian squares in Dublin, Ireland, lies on the north side of the city just under a kilometre from the River Liffey. Planned and developed in the late 18th century by the second Luke Gardiner, then Viscount Mountjoy, the square is surrounded on all sides by individual terraced, red-brick Georgian houses. Construction began in the early 1790s and the work was completed in 1818

Mountjoy can boast being Dublin’s only true Georgian square, each of its sides being exactly 140 metres in length. While the North, East and West sides each have 18 houses, the South has 19, reflecting some variation in plot sizes. Though each side was originally numbered individually, the houses are now numbered continuously clockwise from no. 1 in the north-west corner. While its North and South sides are continuous from corner to corner, the East and West sides are in three terraces, interrupted by two side streets, Grenville Street and Gardiner Place to the West and Fitzgibbon and North Great Charles Street to the East. Gardiner Street passes through the West side of the square, while Belvidere Place and Gardiner Lane run off the North- and South-East corners.

Although some of the original buildings fell to ruin over the 20th century, replicas have been built in their place, so the square still maintains its consistent Georgian façade.

View more images of Mountjoy Square Park

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