The Real Green Irish Company

peter doneganIn conversation with a friend of mine this week, I got talking about the multi-national companies and the not so international, in Ireland.

Let me clarify that. It was not a doom and gloom usual type of ‘Irish televison does more poltical type programmes than it does sport type of natter‘.

To the point. What we were chatting about was the fact that being green is seen as a good thing. If nothing else, from a PR/ public relations perspective.

To an extent, it seems the huge card-board cheque that was held for the usual photo shoot has been replaced. And let’s be vaguely honest about it, within the next week there will be a small plethora of the not unusual type of photographs of some gentlemen in a shirt and tie, laptop in one hand, a unicycle in the other with possibly a lovely lady or two somewhere in the photo frame. All of them smiling and jumping for joy about [random example] reducing the energy they may consume or the all new brand spanking green gadget that will save the planet.

Over coffee we queried and quizzed and pondered

I wonder just how green are these companies, really ?

The imaginary company in my head is based in an industrial – the name says it all – estate, or in Dublin City Centre. It doesn’t really matter. We came up the suggestion that Mr Tokoyama, my imaginary friend who likes to invest in Green Irish Businesses, takes a trip to The Emerald Isle to see into just what and where his money will go.

Que the man in the illuminous yellow security jacket and blue cap stands out of the steel structured security box and opens the barrier to the large concrete expanse of a car-park. The tall building entrance is there to greet and it surrounded by a landscape that was most likely designed pre the [potentially non] Irish company deciding that logistically or fiscally this would be a fine building for them.

As we cross checked and dissected water dispensers and light bulbs, heating systems and ventilation units all the way down to the alternates of opening a window as versus air cooling systems, we spoke about the re-use of envelopes and writing cheques and driving into work. And as the varying sub headings poured off the top of my pencil, all the while the words industrial and estate sat as the header in one column as people and happy sat in the other. The words alone, simply do not sit well together.

We spoke about the alternate. The change. The mind set.

We proposed that our imaginary company stay in the industrial estate. That bit is important. But we proposed that the landscape be handed over to the employees.

What I suggested was that the grounds and surrounds be turned to allotments. This not only saves the company money on grounds maintenance and grass cutting, but it gives the people who work there a reason to stay after work if nothing else but to manage their greens. Not only this, but now picture Mr Tokoyama coming up the driveway.

We pictured the security inspector stand beside his hut now complete with a living green roof. The water run off from the office roof is now managed into water butts which would be used for irrigating the allotment spaces and once per month the excess vegetables and fruit would be sold at a lunch time staff only farmers type market that would be held in the grounds of the now extremely interesting landscape.

There is of course the point were if the car park was being resurfaced that it could be done in grass that cars can drive across – but this was in our long term plan, for now at least. This of course before we get to the electric car charge points and the in-house mini-version of the Dublin Bike Scheme.

Back to it – where grass remains mulching mowers would be specified and used causing now no need at all for the charge of green waste and reducing the amount of diesel and petrol. And where necessary composting areas now existed that could and would be filled with green waste, shredded paper and lunch time apple butts all ready to be re-used in the growing gardens.

The chat steered sideways with workplace conversation now about garden advice. The dilemma that one may face when they decided to take their holidays and to whom and what instructions would be left to look after ones plot.

Solar panels for autumn lighting, wind turbines to make a cuppa on a winters evening and the annual inter departmental mammoth pumpkin and onion growing competition. Wildlife and biodiversity walks and talks in an industrial estate ?? Garden classes held in the grounds, the official opening, donating the food for a local fundraiser – the press and the public relations would quite simply be endless.

If nothing else my good friend did hollar

Can you imagine that for a staff newsletter….?

Internationally, should you be able to imagine that on a company blog, the words admirable and exemplary immediately come to mind. Personally, I think the response would be phenomenol and rightly so.

Being perceived as being green is one thing. Being really green it seems is another. I’d like to meet the CEO who makes that call.

Contact Peter Donegan

The Real Green Irish Company, originally published in The Tribesman week Monday 26th September

Gardening Doesn’t Have To Be Hard Landscaping

It was very recently when building a patio for a client that I realised my garden blog may just have proved of some worth to another. I’ll get to the patio in a little, but to begin with my usual sidetrack, I don’t particularly know why I started to write a gardening weblog being quite honest. I think it was more just a way to put my extra curricular thoughts, albeit still gardening, somewhere.

I see things in newspapers you see, I read them and I wonder what planet has this person come from ?

you see the hens will eat the weeds in between my plants and….

And I wonder have the author and the said omnivorous creature ever lived together. I’m almost tempted to ask their opinion on which come first. And before anyone queries the meat eating bit, I have allowed edible mollusc’s to be entered into the newly elected category named fodder.

There are a few things in my garden that I know are sacred. They are surprisingly, maybe, the things that require very little attention. The smart moves. The pat yourself on the back at some stage in the future moments when you realise, you just saved yourself a lot of hassle.

Being honest, anyone who believes that there is a maintenance free solution to the great outdoors has most likely lost the plot [see what I did there… ]. One may believe that tarmacadam or even concrete is a viable solution to the prevention of photosynthetic life in their great outdoors, but the opposing  argument nee conclusion is that so long as it is possible – and it is – for any plant to find a means of setting up its home in the chimney stack of a house that is taller than me and you, then plant life will find a way of defeating man made. Quod Erat Demonstrandum.

The alternate as I noted in my article on camping last week is not to try to beat the elements. The reality is man will never win.

…one develops a feeling, almost an understanding, not of how all the elements work, more how to work in tandem with them.

Instead, I found it better from a very early age in gardening to admit that weeds will always grow, that the plant we love best will always have an aggressor, a potential successor and also that understanding their life cycle is so much better that trying to change it.

When for the aforementioned client I laid the last area of paving, this being the something that was read on my gardening blog, the request was to leave gaps in between the patio slabs.

But the options when laying paving are very limited. On the one hand one covers a surface area with a solid surface that will, whether intentionally or not, attempt to keep water from penetrating that particular space. This may appear to have zero holding over a client who owns a garden the size of a small farm, but in a new garden, where space is limited, the drainage is poor and the soil not so great, one is quite simply pushing the water onto the part of the garden that is already finding it difficult to cope with draining that amount of water away. The other option, I shall come to shortly.

En mass, hard landscaping [?] is having major repercussions to the point that, as reported by The BBC, the London Assembly environment committee is asking for legislation to be introduced to limit the number of gardens that can be turned into paved areas. That bad, you might ask ? Worse. In January The Guardian reported London is losing 7410 acres per annum as a result of driveways being concreted in.

In Ireland some may believe that we don’t have issues of the Hydrogen Dioxide type. We may not, so long as the tap continues dripping and nobody complains. But as individuals when water metering does become statute, I see many Dads in sandals with socks, buying much aqua saving clap trap. And just as Johnny Cash kicks off on the wireless, the paraphernalia will be loaded onto the bandwagons and it is coming down the track. I have seen the future and that it the way it shall be.

So what the fork has this got to do with gardening….?

If you have been following my Tribesman articles you’d be aware I did a list for those that may wish to make changes to their gardens some weeks ago. A make a start sort of a wish list. But wishes aside we are at the cross roads were I may need to consider re-watching that Michael J Fox film from 1985.

I have planted trees to deal with the excess of weather stress testing to provide shade, to ease dehydration but also in places where the soil would water log. They are my gardens AirTex t-shirt, that splash of water on my face, my wind break and the thirstiest friend on a wet day. My grass is allowed to grow long in sections to attract wild flowers and my planting is loosely chosen but somehow includes flowering for almost every month of the year. My water butts mean my garden is disconnected from the mains and the fact that I use the word biodiversity as it suits me, at will and as an excuse for the non croquet parts means I don’t need to sprinkle my lawn.

Don’t get me wrong I made a built in barbecue. In my defence it was from recycled cobbles and although it used cement, it only used recycled rain water. As versus the 1880 invention by Thomas Campbell.

I may well just be the greenest man on earth as far as Galway is concerned but my garden is just that. The quest is to first strike a balance. And from there, together we shall proceed. This really does deserve a four page piece but alas I’m all out of words and I’ll hit more detail on this next week.

The Sodcast – Episode 10

sodshow, garden podcast

The Sodshow Garden Podcast – every Friday – in iTunes, 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 9 of the garden podcast ?

First Up:

Visit the Repak recycle Week 2010 blog

It’s about time I mention myself in all this and….. I do of course make gardens amazing [no matter the budget]. If you are in need of that extra bit of [green outdoors derived] smile to your day – you can of course contact me on:

This Week On The Blog:

Images For The Podcast:

Links For The Podcast:

Jane Powers Links:

This Weeks Oddities:

via @DiscoverIreland and @VisitDublin Dublin can trace its origins back over 1000 years.Why not visit one of the many historic sites

Kiltrea Bridge Pottery in Enniscorthy Co. Wexford have their pot sale on where you will find huge reductions on all their pots. They are Irish made and all hand thrown with mostly Irish clay; a little bit of British clay thrown in – just to make the Irish clay work better I’m told. The dates are 2010 are 16th – 30th October 10am – 5.30pm Monday to Saturday and Sunday 24th October 2 – 5pm

  • 2011 RHS show tickets (inc Chelsea) are now on sale. 2010’s sold amazingly so book early is recommended

Had a late lunch today and walked back through Stephens green .. nice to see so many people out on the grass in the sun! – Jason Roe

The Irish Garden Plant Society Annual Plant Sale 2010


And Finally:

From the lovely people at @WalksIreland

I noticed that their twitter page links to Walks Around Britain and asked them why? I got this reply. Great to see the interaction and also the logic.

@DoneganGardens Because we’re working on our Ireland site atm – as soon as we have something worth while to show you, we’ll change it over.

On that note…. I love the video below. Directions, video of where to park, the mapped routes…. makes life so much easier. Well done lads. 😉

I Need A Something… ?

what do you think….?

Call. Coffee. Email. Or Comment….

Peter Donegan: award winning Irish gardener. Horticulturalist. Blogger. Writer. Talker. Human. Makes gardens.

Either or. Will always be happy and happy gardening 😀


The Great Gardening Weekend Podcast

sodshow, garden podcast

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

Listen in MP3 format – or- As always you can rss the podcasts via iTunes or you can subscribe to the blog and listen to them right here. Missed last weeks garden podcast ?

On the blog:

My weekend in the garden:

Unusual Green News:

Your Thoughts on This Email:

Hi Peter, great site – engaging blog, great ideas – But I can’t quite figure out who is your market? Is it the organic farmer, is it someone with a city garden, county councils ….???

I replied….

A Chara Cormac,

thanks very much my friend. Always good to get feedback on the blog. Being honest – I’m not sure there is one strict ‘audience type’ that I was looking to ‘target’. It’s more just my ramblings [?] thoughts and so fort of what I come across as an enthusiast of the great outdoors. There are also points in there where I believe discussion is always good [ie. organic] and thats another side to it.

Essentially I make or work with plants/ gardens/ am a horticulturalist by qualification. The reality is though that I dont play golf or live a lavish lifestyle and this you might say keeps me more than occupied. By way of sponsorship – if it comes it comes that’ll be nice but it is by no means the reason I started writing. To be honest, when I left the farmers journal I just needed to keep my fingers occupied and this came up. I guess it just grew from there.

That said the stats show the people like it – so I guess I’ll just keep plugging away until Bill Gates decides to buy me out 😉

Cormac replied:

Cheers Peter, I suppose my comment was more an observation on why you’re not trying to more specifically capitalise on the interesting nature of your blog by upping the sales/ business content of your website (not the blog – which would obviously turn people off). Turning the stats into business. On the other hand your passionate approach is admirable – I’m sure such passion has greater rewards

I replied:

*smiles I wouldn’t mind Cormac to be honest I just and it is something that crossed my mind. Thats said I’m not sure I know how. Also I’m not sure Mrs D would agree with the passion has greater rewards ! 😉

And finally Cormac replied:

well I would have thought putting up some past projects on the website side would be a start – or outlining what you’re best at! (you can’t be good at everything!;-) With a dublin address you have a fine big market. You could be the Duncan of horticulture! Anyhow – i’ll leave you at it! there was you having a good time til I started nagging you like the Mrs.

Personally I think Cormac sounds like a decent cup of coffee kind of guy…. certainly made me think and for the better. Thanks Cormac. Sincerely. Is that the Duncan I think he’s talking about…. 😉

This made me smile:

It appears some-one really does read this blog. Really made me smile Thanks Orla 😀


also via @orlamcdermott – this little how to take it easy video 😀