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garden design bible [book]

tim newbury garden design book

bible... ?

I bought this book last year… and to be very honest…. it has sat on the shelf for most of that time. No offence Tim Newbury. Sincerely. That said, it only cost €17.55 [only?!!] in hughes and hughes and I suppose that should [again, sincerely] be taken into consideration.

But I’m still puzzled on this one. For me the only horticultural bible I know of is the RHS encyclopedia of plants and with that in mind, the truth is… this is far from ‘a bible’.

It is a good book possibly, for my Mom or one of my four sisters [who would not be gardeners of any format by the way]. It is I might propose a good guide when considering ideas for your garden…. a kind of  a ‘I was thinking of something along those lines…’ kind of a guide….?

But, you may be disappointed, if you were looking for lots of pictures. In its favour, the illustrations and the explanations are good – but then against that…. there are only ’40 great off the peg designs’ to chose from.

A good gift, a decent book [and a very useful one too for the novice, maybe…],  but not the greatest investment I personally have ever made.

PS: Dear Mr Hughes and Mr Hughes,

I did email you some weeks ago… but to no response. you might consider an educated and experienced horticulturalist to review your books before they hit the shelves…

my rating: 2/5

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interview with a blacksmith

Trekking through The Craft Council of Irelands section within Bloom this year I met blacksmiths Michael Budd and Stephen Quinn.

I did do a live stream interview but it didn’t work out as well as I thought. Still blown away by the old techniques that [still] exist… I returned the following day.

I’m so glad I took the time to talk to Michael

Go on get something made…. you know you want to 😆

Irish Artist Blacksmiths Association
Association Bushy Park Ironworks
Unit 22-24 Greenhills Business Park
Tallaght
Co. Dublin
Ireland
tel: 01 4622788

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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..... ?

Damien… Thursday garden guest #4

If you’d like to know more about Thursday garden guest time – click here

peter and damien

peter and damien

For the moment writer #4 is Damien Mulley. When I first suggested that I do a garden guest slot… suprisingly, possibly, the first person to contact me on twitter was Damien.

He owns Mulley Communications runs the Irish Blog Awards; the Irish Web Awards; writes; speaks; teaches; does tv/ radio on the subject – the list is endless. One might say he is to computers what I am to horticulture. hmmmm….? 😉 That wry wit of mine aside and when with a minute to spare one pretty quickly realises outside of a passion for ‘techie things’ – Damien is, genuinely, a really cool gentleman.

Ladies & Gentlemen please be upstanding and enjoy:

The Garden – what I like about…

Actually, let’s call this My Mum, Mr. Roycroft and my Nana.
Oh and hello. I’m actually going to talk about three people who encouraged me to like plants and gardening and getting things to grow. My mother was always and still is into gardening and when we lived up in the Northside we had a small garden front and back with really crappy soil. She had roses and lillies and bulbs and all the usuals. She used to then get “slips” off my Nana, her mother-in-law amongst other people and grow loads of shrubs as well as buying the odd few plants when we could afford those luxuries which only happened much later in life.

My grandmother was still very much in the background at this stage when it came to her influence. I used to like helping my mother out in the garden and eventually when I was 6-7 she gave me a little patch of the garden to call my own and I didn’t do too much except rake the tonnes of stones that were in it.

Then in school we got this great teacher called Mr Roycroft who was older than old and I can’t even remember what he first thought us but it was all to do with flowers and plants and so forth. Mr. Roycroft popped up again when I went into 4th class in primary or rather 5th class. I was deemed very bright so as an experiment in the school they took the brightest from those going into 4th year and the brightest of those going into 5th year and they created a new class and Mr. Roycroft would foster all those kids. Best year ever. We learned so much stuff from maths to Geography to Irish (lots of Irish) to nature to botany. Ahhh flowers and plants and things. Roycroft not also thought us the green agenda way before consultants ripped people off wholesale to teach them about it but he also taught us latin by tellng us the latin names of the plants and the families they came from. He then explained what each one meant in English so we had a good grasp of the basics when we finished with him. That year was a very happy year for me in school and was also the last year that I ever applied myself in the schooling system.

We moved house into the country and I lost touch with all my non-schoolfriends. Me and myself and sometimes I. Only kid in the family, big feckoff gardens and instead of a small patch I had the whole wall outside our house and a kind of a rockery which over a few years I expanded and expanded so much so that I started to become the “consultant” about plants at home. I don’t think I was yet 9 at this stage.

Around the same time I became the “chosen one” of my grandmother and grandfather and every Sunday I would be brought along to Skibereen with them, driving down one route and taking the back route home through Iniskeen and Ballineen where we’d stop off at my Nana’s sister’s place. On the way down and back I would basically help my grandmother to vandalise gardens by taking “slips” from shrubs, which if you don’t know what slips are, are small cuttings, though we used to just yank them off. Spring time was worse. That was trowel and bucket time as we dug up West Cork to get Bluebells and Primroses AND very special and rare “wild dafodils”. No idea were they wild or just went native but they had a scent and were big and leafy.

One Christmas I got the very sad (perhaps) present of a propogator and holy crap but it became the best value for money present ever. So I started growing things from seed. Lots and lots and lots of seed. Eventually the parents got a glasshouse which pretty much was for me. Our garden had some fantastic stuff grown for it then. Annuals to start with and then I just didn’t think they were worth all the effort if they were dead at the end of the season so it became perennials and shrubs and that ilk.

There’s not been a lot of calm for me in the past few years but I could literally spend 5 hours in the glass house with a break for lunch and plant seed after seed. I didn’t just feck the seed down in rows, no, I placed each individual seed down and spaced them. A huge amount of work but I enjoyed it.

We moved house again then and at this stage I was in my teens, listening to heavy metal, spotty as fuck but I still grew things, still went out for a bit of peace (no Internet then helped). In the new old house the garden was a heap, the front garden was grass and hedging and nothing more so we got rid of the hedging and threw in a few borders but it was boring. I then started thinking up of proper designs for the Garden and what was needed. The before and after for the front and back are stunning but that’s for another time and another blog post.

I wouldn’t have been able to achieve what I did and learn so much about nature, life and science if it wasn’t for those three main people educating me but more importantly encouraging me to explore. Exploration is mostly not the physical. I don’t do much gardening anymore but I know I’ll go back to it eventually, it’s a strong part of my psyche and always will be. That’s my gardening story, tell us yours.

free bird…

bird feeders...

bird feeders...

i have about ten of these bird feeders dotted around the garden. The ones on the right are good for the seed – but the larger birds seem to prefer the nuts… I’ll probably give it about a week and then I’ll put them back up again.

I tend not to put them near the berried plants like the cotoneaster and hollys mainly because nature has a role to play.

little gem..

little gem..

I bought the really cool silver ones [left] from the petsore in swords [i they they were about €10 each] and the lesser plastic ones in Dunnes Stores [i can’t remember how much they cost but their not very strong by the way… so i’ve lost some over time]. The seeds and nuts I bought in Fingal Farm Supplies in Ballyboughal.

Collins book have a gem book, a really simple book for bird identification suited moreso i might suggest to the nature lover rather than the bird enthusiast. Combined  with other really useful bird blogs like Craig Nash’s and you’re flying!

The reason I like doing this is because it’s easy, it’s relaxing and it make my house feel like a home. It really makes the landscape perfect.