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the garden polls…

so many times i hear the varying views of garden lovers versus those of ‘but sure then i’ll have to look after it..’, I hear those of [some] house builders who believe that gardens are just wasted money… the list goes on.

This should sort the home-makers from the house builders, the affectionate from the stringent and the angular from the poetic… the question is, which one are you?

I’ll compile the results later on and post them later.
In the meantime – go raibh míle maith agaibh
Peter

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

budget + designer = hot air??

hot air balloons and the great oudoorsI written many times about low budget gardening or gardening on [what you may consider to be] a low budget.

Although not unusual, sometimes *it is* a case where the client cannot see what the end result will be. This is the first usual when one does not wish to employ a full design service.

A quick outline sketch? will not [usually] sell it to you. So what will? This is where it gets tough.. not for me I can see it in my head. But for you, the client.

Like a wedding planner, a web designer [eg.] or any other service, I firmly believe one must *trust* the person they [you] empower to spend *your money* wisely – and there lies the first principle.

You may never be able to visualise your garden – but do you trust in me. Do you believe that what I say will be. At some stage you will have to. No amount of pencil lines can describe a feeling and no tree is ever exactly the same.

ROUND TWO: I want a ferrari. I don’t personally – I also know I can’t afford one. You know this too.

Client: we want two ferrari’s, a porsche and and and…

Designer: that’ll be two euro please

Client: Gees, you’re very expensive!

Designer: hmmm….

peter donegan landscaping ltd dublin

Is it not better to say we’re thinking of getting a car. We have around [eg] 100 euros – what do you think? Is that not where experience will start to pay off? It is never the amount of money that you have that will make a garden great. it is what you do with it.

Two examples: First – The Rolling Stones [great band by the way] on CD double album or on vinyl 2nd hand. Which is cheaper & which is better? Secondly – My garden for Bloom 2007 with the morris minor. Could that be visualised by you? It was the ultimate in recycling, it was free and pretty cool! Would you have bought it – before you saw the garden complete?

Small gardens or large. All the money in the world or not. The best gardens are always built with passion, the amount of money is secondary tertiary. All relationships are built on trust. No matter how long a duration or the basis & reasoning they are founded. It may be a garden. It may be a marraige. But if trust exists between a client and the designer/ contractor from the very start… life for that duration and the final outcome of something that will be so personal [ie *your* garden] to you will shine through.

[to comment on this article – simply click ‘COMMENT’ below]

recession talking getting depressing

peter donegan landscaping boomBrendan O’Connor wrote in the Irish Independent [29th June 2008]

There have been a few mutterings about a recession, which is a nice word for depression. The reactions by the media to this have been interesting. The media seems to be thrilled about it. ….You get the impression they think it’s a good thing.

People are asking me all the time hows business..? is it getting quiet..? NO! For the brilliant time things are fine. The only thing this apparent gloom reminds me of is when [eg.] you break your arm. The first time you’re asked ‘ah how did that happen?’ Full story given… but by the time the 40th ‘do-gooder’, fairy cakes in hand asks… heads are gonna roll!

First: this article from a previous post [click here] is well worth a read before you go further. Second: No business has ever been a stroll in any park.

I’m one of eight children. My father is a wine merchant. Fancy? I’m no expert but me thinks not so much in the 1980’s. A little easier now?

Interest rates at over 18%? Emigration at 45k per annum? 85% mortgages? Unemployment at 375k? Not anymore. Two things: they don’t make land in Ireland anymore – and – you can’t continuously build 60-70k houses per annum. logic?

I hear tell of contractors not getting paid. That always happened. I hear tell of people paying 50k for a house build when the other 2 prices are around 100k – [I can’t wait to see that one ‘when’ it’s finished! – this also always happened.

House prices are cheaper? Good. But what’s better now? As a good friend [a civil engineer] said last week ‘any bank manager with a screwdriver could call himself an electrician and the week after he was building houses… those guys are gone, thank God!’ This was also relevant for landscaping and garden design.

The other side is that a lot of businesses ‘gave a price’ and got the work and semi retired after. If one took the p*** through the ‘boom’ – it may just have come back to haunt you.

Apart from that what’s new… nothing really.