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Garden Maintenance: Coryllus avellana ‘Contorta’ – Reversion

I think the video explains it better than text ever could the coryllus avellana ‘Contorta’ or commonly known Corkscrew hazel and the maintenance steps I need to take to bring it back to its glory days for the coming season.

For those who might like to know, I thought these the most helpful of definitions:

Reversion: 3. Genetics A return to the normal phenotype, usually by a second mutation

or

Reversion: n 1 return to an earlier condition, practice, or belief 2. Biol the return of individuals or organs to a more primitive condition or type

In all of the gardens I have ever owned [2] I have always had one of these plants. I don’t entirely know why. Part of me always wondered if it knew it were an oddball alone in the plant world and/ or just what it was thinking when it began returning to normal.

More than that I always loved how when everything else was going to sleep for the winter like some sort of Cinderella, this fellow took the stage and became so amazingly beautiful –  only for it to return to contorted just as everything else was waking up.

How the plant kingdom will never cease to amaze me and why I love it so much.

catkins coryllus avellana contorta

The Sodcast – Episode 11

sodshow, garden podcast

The Sodshow Garden Podcast – every Friday – in iTunes, www.sodshow.com all good podcast stores.

Listen to The Sodcast in MP3 – or subscribe/ listen to the podcast in iTunes. Alternatively, subscribe to the blog and listen to them right here. Missed Episode 10 of the garden podcast ?

First Up:

Visit the Repak recycle Week 2010 blog – sponsors of the sodcast for October

Of course in my real job…. I do make gardens look better and you can of course contact me on:

This Week On The Blog:

Images For The Podcast:


Links For The Podcast:

Well… they are just for Pat Fitzgerald this week:

if you need anything else or are unsure of anything else – just send me an email, my address is above 😉

This Weeks Oddities:

On sale in amsterdam Airport…. and courtesy of Cork man John Peavoy

Courtesy Piaras Kelly:

To celebrate Science Week 2010, Discover Science and Engineering and the Tyndall National Institute, Cork are running a national photographic competition entitled ‘Science Snaps’. The theme for this year’s competition is “The Wonder of Small Science”, which is inspired by the revolutionary science of nanotechnology. The theme should be widely interpreted, inviting submissions that illustrate how small science can have a huge influence on our world, from scientific breakthroughs, action pictures to everyday events, as long as it triggers the imagination and answers the theme of this year’s competition.

Entries can be submitted online at Pix.ie/group/sciencesnaps.  The closing date for entries is Friday, October 15th 2010.

And Finally:

I was teaching 5 month old Ella about the trees in our garden this week…. but of course I hear you say. But Dad has many talents…. 😉

Garden Maintenance

I have been maintaining gardens since before I was a teenager and after 10 years in business garden maintenance is still one of the services that I pride myself on. In 2007 I won the overall ALCI award for garden maintenance – in this case it was a private garden.

I provide both commercial and domestic garden maintenance outside of and including Dublin.

I find that it is the preparation prior to any gardening works taking place that ensures the relationship between you and I works best and also guarantees the best results from your budget and the time I spend with your space outdoors.

Garden Maintenance can be done by way of the following:

  • a one off garden visit
  • regular scheduled garden visits

Within a one off visit you may simply require a good honest tidy over of your space  to give it a lift for the upcoming season or you may simply require a more manicured approach to an existing outdoors to get it back to its finest appearance once again. Others simply require a helping hand to get the garden back on its rightful course where it has been let go for some time.

Services for regularly scheduled and one off visits also include:

  • additional planting to suit the season or for additional colour
  • mulching of beds and play areas
  • fertilising programme for trees, shrubs or lawns
  • grass cutting of open areas or small spaces
  • hedge cutting and shrub pruning
  • tree services
  • weed control in lawns or through existing planting and borders

Whilst some wish to complete the garden maintenance tasks themselves one can also get that little added direction and consultation. In this regard, garden maintenance schedules, checks and calenders can be put in place to suit your specific space in the great outdoors if required.

If you would like to talk with me about garden or grounds maintenance you can as always contact me via the following options.

  • by email info@doneganlandscaping.com
  • via this website: click the contact page
  • call mobile – o876594688

My qualifications:

  • Certificate in Commercial Horticulture (1996)
  • General Examination in Horticulture – Royal Horticultural Society (1997)
  • Advanced Diploma in Commercial Horticulture (1998)

The Right Time To Get The Garden Done

It must be coming into your quiet time for the oul’ gardening now…..

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Just one of the many clichés I’m on the verge of hearing more regularly now that the temperatures start to drop slightly and the evenings start to get a little shorter. The answer is more the opposite in fact.

There is a point where there are certain things that cannot be done no matter what stage of the season one is talking from, but in general the wise owls, tend to, get the ‘garden done’ in what some would consider the off season.

The reality is that with the coming of October onwards and the drop in temperatures of the seasons comes the en mass planting of trees and shrubs. Don’t get me wrong summer is fine for gardening… but when one needs to plant en mass or is planning on a budget and has the patience to place into the ground what may appear as a twig – and wait – then planting when the specimen is dormant and the sky above is willing to act as your automatic watering system ie. you do not need to water every single plant to keep it alive during the pretty decent warm summer we have just had – then logic, in gardening terms is simply just that and has been applied extremely well.

Have you ever seen someone watering plants in November…?

The other advantage is that the new plant is not competing with weeds as it tries to settle into its new home, wherever that maybe. Because essentially, weeds are plants – they simply don’t know that we don’t want them to grow there – and –  like the plants we do want to grow, both are in their over-wintering state.

Generally speaking in this context, put into the summer months, the turning of the soil in order to plant [the plants] brings with it weed seeds flourishing to the surface. Come the rise in temperatures towards the end of spring it is hoped the developing canopies of foliage will assist in reducing this problem – and therefore the competition for nutrients. A mild nipping of the tips helps here.

The question then remains – when is the best time to get the garden done? And the answer is pretty simple – whenever you wish. The question back is what do you want from your garden [?]

If one for example wishes to have a ‘not always just green garden’ ie. one where the plants come and go in and out of flower throughout the seasons; like the forsythia below that flowers on bare stems in early and mid spring – if planted in summer – then there is a wait until the following season for it to come into its own and fullest glory.


Based on last year [2009] which was a complete wash out of a summer which followed straight into an iceberg…. there was a point where freakish summer climatic  conditions meant the gardener [yours truly] had to take time to let the clothes dry out, at some point, eventually.

But this year has been quite good. I’d easily gather bbq sales were up on last year and with that summer feeling has come a rise in requests for garden make-overs, tidy-ups and manicures [with mild additions to]. The other thing noticable is that clients and potential clients started calling in June to plan for the coming ‘off season’.

Tree and hedge planting season is what it may be called for some. But what are people calling Donegan landscaping asking for ?

The requests all have planting of some form involved, but generally speaking the reason to do it, as versus the type of planting, in the off season is the fact that the couple/ family or in the case of one residential complex – the client[s] do not wish to have to water or maintain the plants once planted. A smart move, when making the most out of ones budget, as versus reducing the budget in the main season and not getting the most from the project.

It also means the planting is not trying to flower, establish and settle itself throughout a period where transpiration and growth are also a trying to take place.

It may well be the weather for you to stay inside, but for the tree, the gardener and the plants, investing wisely now may just give you the same rewards for a lot less effort come next spring and summer.

And on top of that…. there’s some hedging and really, really nice trees to be planted 😉

How does your garden grow…?

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Cutting Hedge

To an extent, this is a difficult one to write…. To cut a hedge properly is like putting in writing how to kick a football. Anyone can do it, but how many can do it right or more to the point how many have ever done a seriously bad job on attempting to do good 😉

I asked a friend recently for her hedge cutting tip. She told me…

just make sure you don’t wear socks and sandals at the same time….

A fair point. But fashion aside, there are some things that should be considered before one even dreams of looking at the hedge.

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The machine: there are hedge cutters and hedge trimmers. Petrol and electric. My advice. Buy once and buy well. Also, from my experience, when that machine konks, won’t cut as well or goes stiff because it was left outside over winter…. you’ll thank me for [maybe] paying that extra ten euro.

What I bought was a petrol hedgecutters. With blades on one side only and a protector on the other side. Some like the double sided blades, but it’s not for me. The cutters will take about 2″ width in growth. A big strong sturdy baby, I’ve had it about 4 years now and believe me it is well  tried and tested. It is also regularly serviced.

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The Fuel:

Most machines will take a petrol and 2 stroke oil mixture. The biggest problems I have ever heard are caused when one does not add the mix in and the machine grinds to a halt or the mix is in the wrond doage.

As far as I am concerned, 2 stroke oil is just that. I chose to mix up the [small] green can [5 litre] to 100 mls of oil [the smallest white one]. That’s a 1:50 mix ratio. Or a wee bottle into a green can. Can’t go wrong. Some may say a different ratio but thats a little dependent on the machine. Whatever you do, like not putting diesel in a petrol car… keep them – mixed and not mixed – very separate and label well if you have to.

The Cutting:

This is the tough bit…. if you honestly believe you are going to get into trouble and are one of those that is just not for DIY garden chores; if you are nodding your head as you read this…. just call me. It will cost you money but your partner will still love you 😀

If you are going to cut it yourself…. remember the measure twice cut once rule.

There are a tips to getting it right…

The first: if you have a fence on the peripheral this can be used a guide where the blades or guard rest against and this is your straight line. This also works as regards the topping – if – the hedge is to be maintained at that height.

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If you don’t have a fence type guide you could make a temporary one that can be used year after year. The only other way is to select by eye, the lowest/ deepest point existing in the hedge and making an indent nearby and on again…. one then simply joins the dots makes the indents meet up. Note: This is where you really need to be able to use your looking down the barrel of a gun close one eye type of view. Funny as it sounds level hedge cutting is very much a case of practice make perfect and the day before Marys big 40th bash is not the day to start training.

If one removes an inch all the way across and you make hedge bevels, in the growing season it can be cut back out again, when it grows back. But when you are in the middle of October and the hedge will not grow back until the following season…. take a look at the above video 😉

The tips are fine for compact hedges; For those that are more sparse/ less formal, like the bay laurel [for eg] one can take elements of height out with a secateurs first and once again join the dots with the machine.

Other than that, I also like to use a garden shears. For height I very simply use some builders tressles [like small scaffolding] or a telescopic cutters – basically a hedge cutters on an extension pole.

Whatever you do, if you are doing it yourself… take your time, enjoy it and don’t forget to allow for sweeping up time before you start.

How do you cut yours….?

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