The Hedgerow Walks are I find what keeps me very much on my toes. It is at this time of year knowing trees in the distance by their silhouette and it is plant identification in its finest format on the move, without books and straight from the brain. It is that that I have to know, being a horticulturist.
More than that, it is knowledge sharing and an understanding of why everything that should be in the great outdoors, sometimes is not. Nothing could be reason more than the local knowledge of the lands at Grace Dieu, Ballyboughal where once lay a Nunnery dating back to 1190 and its small village settlement. Although some stone work is visible above ground, a lot of it resides now below and is the main sole reason why on a dry day foundation outlines are clearly visible and a fine explanation as to why crops would falter. In short, information no book could ever explain.
Many thanks to all of those who I met on the day. It was, yet again and as always an absolute honour.
Date and Time: Saturday 3rd December, 10.00 am
Meet Point: Cafe in Ardgillan
Details: Walk around Ardgillan grounds on a field trip with Declan to find out what happens to nature around us in winter.
It is Sunday May 29th as I’m typing this weeks piece and I’ve just returned from doing the fifth outing for the garden group that I started last year.
What goes through my brain and why I decide to start these things I’ll never know. I know I get asked if I make money out my green adventure[s], but the answer to all variations in question is a very swift no. No I don’t make money from writing a garden blog. Nor from presenting the garden radio show, the SodShow. Not even from running a garden group.
So why the flipper do you do these things Peter….?
The last time I was asked that question…. it was a woman, nee, a Mother with a child; swinging out of her like a rotary washing line, pre-filled with a barrel of cola and caster sugar relishing in the energy derived from the gale force winds it had just decided to take full advantage of.
I looked at her and her son, he dressed in full Gaelic hurling Wexford attire. I know it was hurling as a by the way because the spritely seven year old was still wearing the helmet. And as he bounced his head off every Easter egg of every shelf in the supermarket, I asked Mom was he getting his game. Her mind cocooned in a sort of time warp, immune to the protected cranium around her now acting as a sort of battering ram, brought to this earth to destroy anything in its path made of food stuffs, she softly answered…
No Peter, they put him on for the last few minutes if they are losing badly, but that’s only because we have the mini bus and drive the team everywhere….. I reckon they just feel sorry him. To be honest, he s***e , I know he’s mine and all but…. fair play to them….
Explosion! Like a whirl wind passing off at the speed of light, someone clicked the imaginary magic switch and even though it was for just a moment, this soft calm spoken almost frail in her speak woman had by some unidentified odd form of metamorphosis had turned into Missus Terminator…..
Great to see you again……
I think she was trying to end the sentence with my name, but as she ended this unusual holler, my name turned into something different as she began running faster and faster away from me, her head like an owls revolving a full 180 degrees in the direction she was travelling….
As I took the corner I could see Johnny had just bounced off the mayonnaise display. Aisle 7 was on the verge of turning into the OK Coral and Mom had the only gun! Poor Johnny I thought as I quickly took the corner.
Back to gardens and my relevance. One can’t measure nor monetise a level of enjoyment. At least I can’t. Not when it comes to gardens. To be quite honest I always thought garden groups as a really boring place to be where levels of hierarchy maybe had a chance to shine through a means of speaking botanical latin, which is absolutely grand. And whilst I am well versed in that tongue, what I realised was that unless one had the language, knew the lingo and how to speak it, one could be very quickly alienated to the peripherals of [the horticultural] society.
If one wishes to think of it very simply and in a different light, let me pose this question. If one lives in an apartment, in Dublin City centre, works in the computer industry and has one house plant which some how manages to look green only because it is plastic…. how do I manage to get that person to take an interest in anything horticultural related, never mind a garden group outing.
What if that person described above did and then maybe started to write about this place and the outing on their weblog. What if they maybe then started to ask the odd garden question and got a taste of just how amazing the great outdoors actually is.
Let me give you some amazing statistics on the garden group attendees
90% of all those who have come on the garden group outings I have organised live in apartments.
90% of those don’t have gardens.
95% of those have never gardened before.
100% have never been a member of a garden group
98% have never bought a garden magazine before.
95% have never bought a plant before
But yet I can somehow or other get this demograph to come to Ballyboughal, middle of nowhere North county Dublin to walk the Slí na Sceacha, The Hedgerow Walk. Without wishing to sound selfish, but what do I get out of it ? On one hand not a lot. On the other I’m thinking and the aforementioned Mom and I most probably have a lot in common.
I don’t have a child of that age [yet] but the elation a parent must feel when your little runs out on the pitch or whatever it may be and does well, or not, must be immense.
Not to blow my own trumpet, but I’m just wondering if it is that easy for me to get a garden group together, then why aren’t there more non-garden-er groups like mine [?] I don’t have an answer to that, but I am of the thinking That The Tribesman isn’t such a bad place to start.
When I first heard about the Hedgerow Society, I have to honestly admit, I did kind of think of think to myself….. ye what….?! Some big bunch of hippy nutters, pretty much.
But I had been brewing on doing something for the Garden Group like this for some time and when on Sunday [may 22nd ’11] the opportunity came up to go on an outing…. a trial run for the Garden Groupeee’s, I must admit I was very pleasantly surprised.
More than that, for those who are into it, after aking on the twitter, I set myself up on the Run Keeper iphone app just to see what results came out of it. From chatting about it seems 415 calories is just one advantage to doing this 5 kilometre easy going stroll through some of Irelands unseen lands, nature and landmarks that pre date the 18 century.
My guide for the day was a lady called Ann Lynch who is the Secretary of the Hedgerow Society, a professional tour guide and an absolute lady with a delightful sense of humour. Journey wise, it was an absolute honour and a very interesting journey through, up and over lands that although not that far away from me [and you], I knew very little about. I’m slightly the wiser now.
and part 2
Also, these are just some of the images I managed to snap on my journey.
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