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The #SodShow meets The Irish Hedge Layers

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

The #SodShow meets The Irish Hedge Layers (mp3)

The SodShow – with Peter Donegan & Brian Greene – Every Friday 3pm

Listen to The SodShow Live @ 3pm:

  • Tune in: 103.2fm on your radio dial if you are in the Dublin area
  • Listen live online: every Friday 3pm via TuneIn.com – on your phone or desktop

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On The Show This Week:

On this weeks show I talk to students Robert Teeling and Clare Nicholl of Dublin’s National Botanic Gardens and Mark McDowell a teacher of the ancient skill and the Secretary of The Hedge Laying Association of Ireland.

Some say it’s a dying old Irish craft. To some a little surprising, the course was fully booked out. Make a nice hot cuppa and tune yourself in for this weeks SodShow. Interesting is an understatement 😉

Make Contact with The SodShow:

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About The SodShow:

The SodShow, Ireland’s Garden Radio Show with landscape gardener Peter Donegan and armchair gardener Brian Greene airs on Dublin City FM Friday’s at 3PM.

The Sodshow is podcasted, blogged, streamed and live tweeted to the world via its internet site: http://blog.DoneganLandscaping.com/category/podcast

Topiary

topiary

Topiary n 1 the art of trimming trees or bushes into artificial or decorative shapes

Topiary is most probably fondly remembered in most minds for the ye olde grande gardens of the mid 19th Century. But and possibly of surprise to some, the origins of topiary date way back to the times of Julius Caesar. Over the centuries and like all things gardening [or not] there are trends and it did [and does] fall in and out of fashion. Trends aside, there is something ye olde gardener in topiary and/ or by its definition, trimming bushes, that is romantic and very much separates the can do from the cannot.

Gardening skills aside and at a point in modern life where the popularity of cutting a domestic garden hedge may be queried, it is hard to see an en mass revival of this skill. That said, it makes me quite proud that I can take the cutting of a hedge exact, straight and by line of sight to an echelon above.

The images above here are from my own garden, planted to remember my first dog Bobby. Silly as it sounds, maybe, I think he’d be quite pleased knowing that his tree wasn’t just any old shrub.

If you do fancy giving topiary a go remember:

  • practice makes perfect
  • patience is king
  • you cannot sellotape cuts made back on

For the above I used a petrol hedge cutters first, then a shears and finally a secateurs. The stages are, obviously, noted in photograph back to front.

In the above photograph I have used Thuja and in my image below you can see Buxus semprevirens [box] and Laurus nobilis [bay laurel]. If you are thinking of planting hedging or trees now is the perfect time to do so whilst temperatures are still in single figures.

More information ? Leave a comment below – or –

formal hedge

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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December In The Garden

And what an end to November and a start to the month it has been…

Firstly to those affected in any way by the adverse weather conditions…. my sincerest best wishes to you all, I hope it sorts itself out as soon as possible. To those who chose to stand up to the Green Party politicos  [especially on RTE’s The frontline yesterday] more concerned with defending the amount of action groups who solve extreme weather conditions by sitting at a round table…. I applaud you. I also think Fionn has a point…

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But thats another days work…. and on to Gardens we go…. well, as best as is feasably possible….

You see gardening is a funny business. It’s not a subject that one can put off. The elements maybe against the preferred conditions – but if [for example] the bulbs aren’t planted in the garden this December… it’s now spring 2011 before you will see them pop up… you follow? If you put it off last month…. you’d better get them wellies on or be a very fancy dancer – one that can dodge rain droplets 😉

Despite the weather, I’ve still been working out there. You heard me 😆 It has to be done.

hedge cutting gardening-dublin landscaping-in-dublin-

first up is hedge cutting – some prefer to do it in the summer…. but if you have something like the forsythia which flowers on bare stems in and then goes into leaf – you’d be mad not to. Some say the best time is…blah blah blah 😉 I say, this when I’m doing my crataegus and my fagus. Its also when I’ve been cutting others escallonia… get the rakes, secateurs and the lopping shears out and go for it.

landscaping-in-dublin cutting back plants gardening-dublin

It is also a time for more select pruning. Maybe in this case the hedgecutters maybe a little too harsh. In this category I would add the removal of suckering growth – see the difference in leaves on the Corkscrew hazel [corylus avellana contorta – first image] ; the pruning back of smaller plants that have been let go a little – in this case the likes of the helichrysum [second image above – and similar in habit to lavender]; and also the pruning by hand saw of branches that have become a little elongated – almost tree like when it should appear as a shrub. Moreso, it is also to do with good garden hygiene.  

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But the biggest gig that most may possibly forget is the fact that it is tree planting season. The season when dormant and mostly native Irish trees get to go in the ground in their over wintering state. If you are looking for some ideas and names of, see this post on Irelands favourite native trees which can be planted now – I said now !!! Don’t forget the straps, buckles and tree stakes.

If you have existing trees – check the straps and buckles aren’t choking the trees – if they are – remove or loosen them.

Regarding your lawn…. you may get a cut in before the Christmas. Once again, the ye olde garden fraternity may suggest this is the wrong time – which is perfectly fine if it is the local croquet club… but if you are my Dad… well, you’ll be picking up the phone and telling asking me when am I getting my butt over to the house to cut that grass.

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After that – the bird feeders still need filling, the shed needs to be painted and I’ll guess you never did the new-ish garden furniture last month ….well don’t say I didn’t tell you 🙄

If you take my advice – sure get it all sorted – then go and buy some instant colour in the form of winter planters, window boxes and hanging baskets. Really brighten the place up…. God knows you deserve it. Now all you need to do is to go and get that Christmas tree 😉

Whatever you do and if you are doing it yourself… stay warm, dry and be careful. If you are getting the gardeners [at least for me anyways…!] in…. put the kettle on and give ’em a nice cuppa and a mince pie. If ever I wondered what a kite must go through…. recently is the closest I’ve ever come to realising it 😆 Oh and in case I forget…. do enjoy 🙂  

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taxus bacata

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the yew, taxaceae is of a genus of 5-10 species and one of those that reminds me firmly and almost immediately of the ‘ye olde’ type style gardens. In fact I’ve yet to meet one without. Most commonly famed for its use in hedging or topiary, they are evergreen, berry producing plants that are listed as listed [all parts] as ‘toxic’ [if ingested]. For that reason, they can often take a back seat when it comes to garden design.

The reality is they are amazing. They make great back drop,are really hardy, require very little maintenance and look super all year round. They can [says the reference books] grow to 70′ tall…. but I wouldn’t let that put you off… it won’t be in my life time 😉