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What Makes A Great Garden – February

It may well be February, but if the uncultivated wilds of North County Dublin can look so attractive because of one or two additional plants, then why not our gardens. I’ve always believed that a good great garden, irrespective of budget, size and style should always and at all times attract you in to it and want you to spend more time in it.

Recorded on Sunday evening, the following are my thoughts and ramblings with that in mind. Make yourself a cuppa and have a listen.

What Makes A Great Garden (mp3)

Thoughts and comments ?

donegan landscaping dublin

Bloom 2010 – reviewed

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If you did read my post on Thursday, you would have got my recommendations for Bloom In The Park 2010. And so I went along again on Sunday and Monday.

The weather was cracking for most of Bloom, but the last two days meant the umbrella’s had to come out. But then, this is Ireland… That said, I did notice in contrast to Blooms first year a massive difference in the ‘dealing with Irish weather‘ facilities around the festival. Well done behind the scenes team.

The layout did change slightly to the main area outside the show gardens and for some I wondered why they had a prime pitch, with almost little or no relevance to horticulture. It was however a little easier to navigate than the year previous so maybe there’s method behind the decision. From a visitors perspective it was one I was glad of.

I did like the food area and the tasting and it was nice to see the forgotten crafts speaking taking place. I particularly enjoyed the Burren Smokehouse talk. I Never really knew what went into making a good smoked salmon. I do now. As a by the way, they sold out of every single piece of fish by 4pm on Monday.

To the right of that were some crafted outdoor displays which I felt delivered a nice message. Of note was the Wicklow Educate Together School Tin Man and the display for oil versus renewable energy. This replaced last years Obama replica vegetable garden. Very refreshing.

As always I don’t really like to comment on the gardens, as I’ve built and designed, been awarded medals and not…. That said I do recommend you read this post on building a show garden. It’s not easy 😉 I think I’m personally still suffering the aftermath of 2 years without a sponsor. Anyhow, you can comment, I won’t, but I will say the layout was good and quite relaxing walking around. Well done to all the sponsors and gardeners.

I didn’t make it to taste the crafted beers… but I did get to hear some of the bands in that area and it was great to see on Monday evening families dancing in the rain to a chorus of ‘Hello Mary Lou‘. Next door, the crafts area was nice and open and left places for people to sit and picnic. I also like the arts and crafts dotted throughout and the gentlemen singing acapella were amazing.

I thought the fact that speakers like Shawna Coronado from the U.S. were introduced was a great idea – I also believe her talks went down extremely well. Well done Shawna. [Also: my interview with Shawna Coronado]

There were suggestions that the food was well priced. On a different note, phone coverage and in particular internet phone coverage was poor. This I heard from too many people and from a meeting up point of view I only found afterwards that they’d been there. It also meant I couldn’t do live video’s and picture posting.

From speaking with Aidan Cotter and some of the Bord Bia team I believe numbers were up on last year which is great to hear. Aidan also queried whether I was returning to Bloom 2011 to build another show garden, with a twist difference…. I meant to ask him if there’s a chance of me getting partnered with a sponsor 😉

Overall, some say the direction has changed. Some say the garden judges were a little tougher this year. Others simply say Bloom 2010 has come along way in, what one should not forget, is just 4 years. All in all, I personally and sincerely enjoyed the show. Whether I go back in 2011 as a visitor or as a designer is a question I’ll need to answer soon. Either way, you will see me there.

Well done to all involved. Take a bow and when you find the time a well earned rest.

I’ll have some video’s and information to go up this week. You can also view my other images from Bloom 2010. I personally love this picture taken by my good friend Stephen 😉

What do you think….?


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Bloom 2010

As always you can rss the podcasts via iTunes or direct via audioboo

To all things Bloom, once again, I quote myself from last year:

To only mention the gardens is, maybe, what I should be doing…. but, as a garden builder and designer at Bloom – they are all [seriously] amazing and I simply can’t be pushed to just pick one. Anyone who designs and/ or builds a garden here is a genius in my eyes ;) I will however give an over view of the  entire Bloom experience & some of the interesting people I met on my sabbatical :lol:

My Recommended Bits And Bobs:

As per the podcast…. here are the links to those I mentioned

  • Shawna Coronado – she’s @shawnacoronado on twitter and will be in the garden expert area. A must see.
  • entertainment tent [#20 on the map]- ice creams!
  • imaginosity – loved it last year. Even better this year.
  • Craft demonstration area. Remember the blacksmith Michael Budd and Kathleen from the basket makers association – even more crafts this year.
  • Agriaware area – see the pics below
  • Chefs Kitchen. Nevin will be mobbed 😉
  • Go say hi to Dawn Ashton [she helped on my Niall Mellon gardeners day out] in her garden. All plants there were supplied by my good friend Pat Fitzgerald – remember him from last year…
  • Show times dates and how to get there are below the pics other than that see the bloom website
  • And finally – don’t forget to upload your pictures to the Pix.ie Bloom Group – where you can see the rest of my bloom images

How to get there:

Show times and dates:

  • friday 4th June 10am – 6pm
  • saturday 5th June 10am – 6pm
  • sunday 6th June 10am – 6pm
  • monday 7th June 10am – 6pm
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The Jasper Conran Waterford Crystal Planter

In an odd variance of requests, this week I found myself making up planters, hanging baskets and window boxes for a client. A nice thought and an unusual one in a sense as the planters were to be filled with not bedding plants and summer flowers but herbs and salads.

The unusual request bit came when one was requested for someone special. I came up with this prototype option as an alternate for them. It’s lemongrass in a jasper conran waterford crystal vase.

I filled it part way with vermiculite, then compost and then decorated the top milimetres with vermiculite again.

It’s very much a one off. I know that. But, I like it.

April In The Garden

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You’d know from the ‘March in the Garden’ post that I had just sown my seeds. Well germinated at this stage, the above photograph shows the results after just after 2 weeks. Growth is starting, slowly but surely and it seems to me we’re going to be on for a cracker of a season!

I’d like to try to try not to write about just growing your own… but when the garden centres now have entire sections dedicated to what I can only describe as a phenomenon, it might just prove a little more difficult than expected. That said, this isn’t your average ‘get out and rake your lawns’ type of a piece, it is was I will be doing this month.

Since last month, mainly due to doing the grow your own course I have now sown or started growing: seed potatoes, onion sets, lettuce, chives, parsley, coriander, spinach, basil, mustard, strawberries… the list is literally endless and in a few weeks I will be giving the stuff away at a rate of knots. The gig here is only to sow in small amounts and little by little. I don’t want to farm the land. And I need to ensure that I continue to enjoy what I have always done…. without it becoming laborious. I have but a wee 6′ x 4′ aged old glasshouse.

To other garden stuff. The weather has been tough and very unpredictable. As I write we had snow yesterday, 30th March. But there are more buds on the trees and some are literally on the verge of bursting.

The daffodils are also in bloom, not all, which is good as it means I’ll have flowers n the window for the first time this year and for a longer duration.

The lawn… don’t get me started. I’ve cut mine once this year. And that’ll be it until that drop of rain stops falling and temperatures start to rise to a consistent 12-14 Celsius. That said, I have been laying rolled lawns this year. Great from a clients and my perspective because there is no watering at all – where normally in ‘good’ weather the high temperatures and lack of water would cause shrinkage and watering would be recommended only at night time.

Outside of that all of the stuff I planted last year is doing great. The rhubarb in particular has just rocketed.

The hens are also back laying again after their winter sabbatical… which is great for baking. Yummy! I’m pretty much getting four eggs a day now. Outside of that there were some other creatures spotted recently around there… A good clean out was given, some bait was put down and the jack russell was let loose… I think this one [above] looks happier 🙂

The only thing I would suggest you do not forget is tree planting season. The leaves are pretty much at bud burst point. And it is around this time that the race is on to get the final bit of the bare root and root balled chores complete. Thinking of buying a tree [?] at its best and best value… do so now.

Did I miss out on anything…. ? Leave a comment and let me know. That’s more than enough to keep you going for the bank holiday weekend 😉 I leave you with this to ponder on….

What d’you think one would do with it….?  🙂

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