Posts

Bloom 2007 – The Morris Minor Garden

donegan gardens bloom (2)

No Rubber Soul. Silver Medal Winner. My Garden for Bloom 2007.

I love this garden. I really do. I had no sponsor. I was advised not to do it. Nobody knew what Bloom was really and although I had won awards for garden design and landscaping, this was my first *show* garden. I don’t even think I knew what a weblog was when I did this garden so there really doesn’t exist that many photographs of  ‘No rubber- soul’ the garden. For some reason or another it became know as the Car-Den. Enjoy!

Peter Donegans garden design ‘No Rubber- Soul’ won silver in the large garden category in the inaugural year of Bloom in the Phoenix Park Friday 1st June 2007. During the 20 day deadline over 1,500 plants; 50 square metres of rolled lawn; 4 tonne of recycled compost; 5 tonnes of recycled bark chippings; 6 tonnes of recycled tree stumps one 1965 morris minor and an outdoor flat screen television.

Despite the rainfall over the bank holiday weekend over 50,000 people still flocked to see the unsponsored garden. No decking, no paving, no additives or preservatives…. Imagine sitting within two thirds of a 1965 Morris Minor, watching the television, smokes plumes through the front grill of your car and you sit back and watch nature and plant life grow around you. This is the garden that has no rubber but lots of soul. Built from 100% recycled and/ or recyclable products. Take a trip back to 1965 when men used shovels and gardens had soul.

Built to commemorate the many Irish men with initially, great intentions who promise to restore and rebuild projects but sometimes are never fully completed; it has been slightly adapted to via audio visual equipment to become an entertainment area of sorts and it should give the appearance that whilst unwillingly forgotten, the life of the garden continued to flourish around it.

….and of course there was this. genius.

this was the making of….

and there was also a bit of this….

Also:

to bloom or not to…

for a love of the game...

for a love of the game...?

bloomthat is was the question.

The search had been put out for my intended prop for Bloom 2009 but show gardens require a lot more than that. I have learnt that one the hard way.

It does require [a lot of] months preparation and hard work. It is not for the faint hearted. It requires a massive team – it is a mammoth task and a mammoth collaboration. This is not the turn off point for me.

It requires a love for what one does… to this I still feel the same as i did when I was a nipper – and in my heart, that child will never change.

Unfortunately, I have gone two years without financial sponsorship. I did have massive support for which I will be eternally greatful. And although I had got €20k towards Bloom 2007 from Bord Bia , for Bloom 2008 I had zero. For the record Gormleys fine art where noted as ‘in association with’. There was no monies paid to Peter Donegan Landscaping Ltd. This was to thank them for the use a piece of art. The sculpt in my garden.

I did send in initial designs for Bloom 2009. But…

The GAG failed to see how the concept behind this design will fit within any of the bloom garden categories and as such the panel is unable to accept your application at this time. However, the GAG would like to invite you to consider submitting another show garden design which they will be happy to review.

and the Garden Advisory Groups response also came with this important note

The construction of all gardens at bloom is dependent on sponsorship. Where sponsorship is not yet in place and the applicant is unable to fund the construction of the garden him or herself, please note that every effort should be made to secure a sponsor for your garden at the earliest possible juncture.

The first paragraph is fine and absolutely understandable, I suppose… [although it does make me wonder how my first two garden designs were accepted at all…..] I could have submitted another garden design – but then I read the important note [the second paragraph] I just couldn’t take the risk of not having having a sponsor, again. I did subsequently speak to ‘members of the bloom garden advisory group’ and I was told I could build ‘that’ garden as an engaging space – but not as a ‘show’ garden.

what's it all about... ?

what is it all about... ?

My writing here is not meant to knock anyone. I sincerely mean that [and I do wish Bloom and those involved every success]. My intenion is to explain ‘my’ situation.

I love what I do. I am so passionate about what is my hobby and my career. I spend more time with plants, I might suggest, than I do with people 😉 But sometimes external factors need to be considered.

At this moment in time I feel a little torn. I’m torn between a love of what I want to do and what I can do – and guarantee to be done. I’m torn between the people I love in my life and that, that I cannot make reality – that is, the gardens, nee the dreams I wish to create with plants… there are so many. Maybe the reality is that *my* show gardens are my dreams and for once, my dream, simply, cannot come true. Maybe I love what I do too much… maybe? Maybe I need to take a little rest from show gardening? Maybe at 32 – I am supposed to grow old… ?

Show gardens in my opinion, are *show* gardens. They should not be about business. They [ideally] should not be about money. Show gardens should be created solely for the people who pay the money through the gate… shouldn’t they? If this is so, I can honestly say I created show gardens.

encouraging...?

encouraging...?

My problem [and only mine] is that I am being restricted, curtailed or prevented. The rules don’t include for people like me….? The RHS Tatton Garden show seems to. They wrote to me and offered me £6,000 towards an accepted garden – with this poster [see left].

My other gardens are normal, those of the domestic kind; but I used show gardening as a platform to do something ‘not so mainstream’. Something not about medals. Something not financially rewarding to me. Something for the people, the payee, the reason the show is there in the first place. By way of money, rules or for whatever reason that child-like imagination that I have is being told… NO!

I remember my Grandfather [God bless], years ago buying my Nanny a Valentine card that when opened lights flashed on the front and it played the Elvis song ‘love me tender’. It made me smile, at first – but he did love ‘his Lilly’ so much, he really did. And I always thought ‘well why not?’. What is wrong there. What is incorrect about that. It was chidlike one could say. But it was also both romantic and amazing, youthful and brilliant, yet niaimh and one may say – as it should be. The kind of thing that could make you cry and laugh at the same time. The kind of thing that would make you want this love to never grow old. The kind of thing that would make you want to stay young forever.

Since I first drafted this article about two weeks ago now; I recieved an email from Bord Bia offering a maximum of €100 per square metre towards the cost of building a show garden. So for example last years garden [20m x 10m] would have got €20k. The new deadline for garden design submissions is February 19th 2009. This essentially gives one approximately 10 weeks and only ‘IF’ the garden is accepted on the date of application. If I wish to source another prop, like a boat…. it, for me, just cannot be sourced and prepared within that space of time.

All of that aside, it was last year when I believed I had a sponsor. It was last year when I needed the help; when I had a boat, restored and painted and with less than 4 weeks to go realised I was, literally, in the …. and alone. It is because of last year that ‘my’ pocket money saved is still paying for last years garden. In fact last year the most embarrassing for me was that I could not afford to buy a €250 evening ball preview ticket for two of the staff who had worked so closely with me on last years journey. This did not dampen my spirits as a by the way, at all.

Normally, none of this would deter me. It would be the ‘you can’t do that’ that makes my brain say a very determind ‘we’ll see about that then!’. But, on this occasion – I simply cannot. What do you think?

maybe... it's time for a little rest?

hmmm..... ?

Hard Landscaping & Small Spaces

pebble and paving...

The key to landscaping small spaces is that the final result, when complete, gives the feel of a brighter, airy & open space. It is to give the eye more than a ‘oh that’s nice’ and a walk on effect. It is to give, even in the smallest of spaces, a visual journey.

The second key is that it is contains the functional aspects and also with that in mind that aesthetically the finished garden style suits. In the case above a front garden with an allowance for an extra car parking space was to be given, without making the garden stand out for the wrong reason. It may not win awards – but it doesn’t look out of place for the wrong reason and also [very important] it fitted the clients budget.

We could have hard surfaced the entire front garden… but there are considerations however with regard to being a little greener; specifically with regard to paving and moreso with regard to front gardens. [This has recently been written about by Ros Drinkwater in the Sunday Business Post.] But, consideration to this really should be given anyway. The answer is possibly to do a mix of the the two and/ or to just go without the hardened surface. That aside – a concrete jungle, simply put, would have looked wrong.

Of course the alternate is a mix of the two. This allows for the drainage of water within that area, assuming that the preparations beneath allow for the dissipation of water through it. In the case above it also allowed that the dark pavings were given a little something to brighten up what could have become a very dark space. For that reason a bright gold pebble was used.

This does not mean of course that no one hardened surface can be given. it is simply a solution to low maintenance gardens and gardening; to small garden designs; to poor draining gardens and at the same time considering the environment. It is a possible alternate solution to hardened surfaces.

Monte Palace Tropical Gardens, Madiera

m

  • designer: Jóse Berado, Eleuterio Soares
  • owner: Jóse Berado Foundation
  • garden style: Portuguese-Oriental
  • size: 21 aces [8.5 ha]
  • climate: mediterranean
  • location: funchal madiera

[source: 1001 gardens you must see before you die]

It is very unusual for me, possibly, to go on holidays and then – for a break of sorts – to visit gardens…? It’s not really.

The island of Madiera is quite an intriguing place when one sees what is happening to the land on this small island [i believe we in Ireland had a similar situation some time ago]; Planning aside, horticulturally this entire island is a dream-land for the plant lover, botanist and garden enthusiast.

But, my review is of The Monte Palace Gardens or The ‘Jardim Tropical da Quinta do Monte Palácio’ and aside from the slightly touristy, yet worth it, cable car journey up and the timber sleigh down, they are absolutely stunning, breathtakingly beautiful and so worthwhile visiting.

The gardens themselves date back to the 18th century but the works on turning the ‘land’ into gardens of merit actually only started in 1987. If you do visit, I would suggest going twice as every path splits into two or three different directions and so one doesn’t ‘really’ get to see everything.

For the plants person there are over 100,000 plant species; For the architect, the buildings are simply amazing; For the garden lover it is paradise and if you ever wanted an oriental themed garden – this is were you should look for inspiration. If you’re not an uber-garden lover then it is simply relaxation in it’s finest form. My pictures probably don’t do it justice enough.

I try to visit a garden in every county and country I visit. Not all of them appear here. These gardens however would be up there with the very best of them.

the farmers market at swords…

absolutely love it...

i had never been but on saturday i took a stroll into Swords – just at the bottom of main street adjacent the swords castle – is where it’s all happening [10am – 4pm]. It’s not huge but it’s enough to have a relaxing, friendly day out side in the cool November air. I liked it 😉

Some of the traders were almost london-esque in the ‘banannas 2 bunches for €3’ approach[something i miss a little about my former residence] lubbly jubbly 🙂 I bought some veggies and fruit, some cheese, some italian bread, cáca milis, a cup of coffee [i only had 15 euro in my pocket] and finished off my lunch with with the free tasty samplers [yummy!].

I also had a good chat with the ladies of the Swords Senior Citizens Group who were there selling their art, that will make great Christmas pressies and are amazing value. So The Farmers Market in Swords is it worthwhile? I certainly thought so!