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straw grass…?

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I get loads of these…. some one liners…. some emails. Some without pictures But I try my best and quite enjoy answering them being honest 🙂

Email in on Saturday from Melanie. 😉

Hi Peter,

Thanks for this, myself and Alex are full of enthusiasm for the garden at the moment but neither of us have much of a clue 😉
Alex was out doing a bit of a tidy up this morning and he noticed that we have climbers planted around our wall (they were planted just before we bought the house so no idea what they are), and now there seems to be loads of what looks like straw around the bottom of them all. We’ve no idea where it’s come from, and are a bit worried it might be a sign of mice. I don’t know if you can shed any light on it, but I thought I’d run it by you in case you’ve seen it before. I’ve attached 2 photos.
Thanks,

I responded with the following via twitter [it was saturday…. i was watching Ireland get beat by Scotland at rugby. It was easier 😉 ]
I gave the following answers in 2 messages of less than 140 charachters:

hmmm. the plant is pyracantha. produces fruits and little white flowers – really cool and great for nature but thorny 🙂

the dead grass is just that. may have been sprayed a while ago…. or not. just mow over it. not straw. all looks healthy

Problem solved.

As I said when asked about watering seeds…. maybe a simple answer to someone with horticultural qualification….? but then you probably don’t read this blog 😉

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Other comments:

  • Yes you should no matter how silly ! 🙂
  • maybe do a monthly online publication on issuu
  • You should use them for a column in a magazine / newspaper, like a gardening problem page.
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Gardening…. It’s Kids Stuff

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You may remember I was asked to do a gardening class at the La Leche League of Ireland annual conference. On Saturday 6th March I travelled to Maynooth Co. Kildare to do just that.

I know I’ll be doing a gardening course soon, but, there are some obvious major differences in the populus breakdown of those attending on March 20th.

Most can drive cars. Legally. On a motorway. At speeds of up to 75km per hour. Some will shave and in general I will assume most have their house not in a tree.The class mates on this occasion where very much the opposite. 😉

If I did have a plan…. it went straight out the window within the first 10 seconds. The general idea was to grow some seeds. To get the hands dirty. To do so inside and to have some fun with gardening in mind.

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In a previous class the children had decorated old glass jars and these were used instead of pots. Compost was felt and softened, hardened and softened again. It was stuffed into jars and emptied. The seeds were opened and compared; the large broad bean seed versus the speckle of dust like lettuce seed. Funnily enough, most of the boys chose the big broad bean while the girls chose chives. So much more practical and logic they decided.

All in all and in just under 2 hours the class was completed. Some asked for extra advice on how to care for theirs… others already knew. My only fault, in hindsight, was the fact that I was an Arsenal fan and that didn’t go down so well with the boys…

The jars were sealed up ready for some to take their seeds on a long journey to their new home. Either or it was gardening and it was great fun. I just hope they enjoyed it as much as I did. 🙂

Many thanks to Joan Broe and Jennifer Foxe for being so nice. Really appreciated 🙂

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A Gardening Course …?

update 13th March 2010: One space has become available… pop your name down below, email or text me if your interested 🙂

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Over the last weeks I’ve been researching chatting with some friends about gardening and the usual how to bits of outdoor advice.

From those conversations came the suggestion that I should do a crash course of some format in ‘gardening‘.

I did teach horticulture and courses before. But this class request or what one should get at the end of it is to be slightly different as those urging me to do so are not horticulturalists – moreso they have a window ledge/ balcony or only wish to garden in small amounts and stints.

The outcome…? Either a one day course in gardening at my homestead or a 1.5 hour evening course in Dublin City Centre over a 3/4 week period. The majority in this case decided on a one day workshop.

To tailor make this session to the people and their wants I am proposing the following:

  • a one day crash course from 9.30am – 3.30pm
  • The first day/ date is Saturday March 20th
  • cost of materials only to be covered set at €60 per person
  • you take home what you make on the day
  • lunch will be included
  • to take place in Ballyboughal [it’s near Swords/ North Dublin 😉 ]
  • numbers will be limited to a maximum 8 people only

What we will achieve on the day:

  • gardening basics
  • how to grow your own from seed
  • growing plants on a budget
  • window ledge balcony gardening
  • looking after your plants
  • planting your planters
  • growing in a confined space
  • not enough hours in the day/ the 10 minute gardener
  • herb and salad kitchen gardening

this email just came in and sums it up nicely….

Basically: this is for the [wo]man, parent, adult, child who wants to do a bit of green living but not farming. Enough to have summer salads, fresh herbs, maybe even some fruit – at the same time logic enough that you’ll watch footie/ daytime tv and go out rather than hug trees. You’d like a bit of green, you need a place to start but without getting bamboozled – and let it grow from here….

The idea is simple enough and if numbers run over/ demand is great enough/someone approaches me with a suggestion I’ll do a second class/ consider those options then.

If you would like to do this class – or – have any queries or suggestions

  • pop your name down as a comment below
  • email me info[at]doneganlandscaping[dot]com
  • telephone me on [vodafone prefix – and then] 6594688

What do you think …..?

UPDATE:

If numbers fill up for the first group of 8…. assuming there is demand enough – I will do another day course. Put simply I’ll let the names spill over to a second group of 8 and we’ll call it from there. Crawling versus walking and all that cliché stuff 😉

Once again – your course/ class made better by your suggestions…. pop them in comment box below 🙂

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Iveagh Gardens, Dublin

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It was last month when I chose to visit the Iveagh Gardens just north of St Stephens Green.

On the whole, I like the Iveagh Gardens. I like the layout, the sunken lawn and the symetry of the main features.

But on this occasion I was a bit surprised with some elements of the grounds.

The Iveagh Gardens were originally given to University College Dublin by Lord Iveagh in 1908. The gardens are now under the remit of the OPW.

The waterfall was closed off, which is fine, but road cones and some other paraphernalia seemed to be strewn there and the rose area was closed off. These bits one can live with and are easily resolved. But when you see statues/ figures with parts removed and at the same time a brand new looking [and therefore slightly out of place] sculpt of John Mc Cormack one wonders mildly. No offence meant to the Mc Cormack people…. but I could think of more fitting places for such a sculpt. I suppose I may have thought that one would restore the more historic pieces before bringing in the brand new [?].

The main water features were also turned off, the lawns [acknowledgment of winter weather here] were in disrepair and the trees had a fair amount of suckering growth. Not a lot going on being quite honest.

On the plus side the park is one of the quieter ones in Dublin, which in recent times has become a little better known thanks to the comedy festivals that now take place there. And no harm. It is in summer months very much filled with the joys of spring [?!!] but on this occasion I was disappointed.

As I said, I really do like this park, overall and to simply escape the hustle and bustle of the city centre. It’s history is also quite amazing and well worth reading up on… that said if I was Lord Iveagh… I guess I’d be a little disappointed to see the missing and semi dismantled sculpts that dorn the parks peripherals.

On a slightly seperate note The Iveagh Gardens wiki page tells as lightly different story to that of heritage Ireland

The gardens in their present form were laid out in 1863 by Benjamin Guinness after he had built what is now Iveagh House on St. Stephen’s Green. Previously the land had been laid out as a private pleasure garden by “Copper-faced Jack”, Earl of Clonmell.

According to Heritage Ireland

The Iveagh Gardens are among the finest and least known of Dublin’s parks and gardens.  They were designed by Ninian Niven, in 1865, as an intermediate design between the ‘French Formal’ and the ‘English Landscape’ styles.  They demonstrated the artistic skills of the landscape Architect of the mid 19th century and display a unique collection of landscape features which include Rustic Grotto’s and Cascade, sunken formal panels of lawn with Fountain Centre Pieces, Wilderness, Woodlands, Maze, Rosarium, American Garden, Archery Grounds, Rockeries and Rooteries.

The conservation and restoration of the Gardens commenced in 1995 and to date most of the features have been restored, for example the Maze in Box hedging with a Sundial as a centrer piece.  The recently restored Cascade and exotic tree ferns all help to create a sense of wonder in the ‘Secret Garden’.  The pre 1860s rose varieties add an extra dimension to the Victorian Rosarium.

More images of the Iveagh Gardens on Pix.ie

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St Valentines Shouldn’t Cost The Earth …?

I got a ghetto blaster for Valentines day……. Look! It’s even got a twin deck record cassette system….  I reeeeaaaally L-O-V-E that gurl….

For me, when I got to about the age of 22, the big splash had been made. I bought her a VHS player…. ja uber romantische!  but that was pre jewelery days and very much in the he said she said ‘if you hurt my friend…‘ best friend speech days…. ah the memories!

If you remember the above bits I’ll assume your birth date is pre Wham! [ala George Michael careless whisper era] and you are thinking of that next thing to do – that, that is getting just that little bit more difficult to conjure up….

As a rule, I never do flowers on Valentines Day. Never. Well I did once. I made the bouquet myself about ten years ago for her and I just got giggled at. Anyhow, gardeners giving flowers,  is a bit like Alex Ferguson giving his wife a DVD of ‘Man Utd’s best goals against Aresnal’. It simply doesn’t feel right.

Jokes aside…. but not really… I like the quirky side. I say quirky. I mean, whatever is the opposite of…

Here ye go love, box of turkish delight there for ye… I’ll see ye after the match yeah…

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I have a list in my head of things to do for the day. It may have taken me 0.4 seconds to collate mentally – but that’s just how my brain works in my personal life 😉

And if I see you removing a wheel barrow [red bow wrapped around it] from the rear wind screen of your prized sports car… I’ll know you weren’t paying attention….

To that, I still hand-make the card myself. The last one was from a cornflakes box and covered in matt black card and red ribbon. I then wrote a poem and put that in the middle. A made look old black and white photo went on the front. You’ll have to use your own imagination [and your own photo! ] but it looked really cool. Was a little green and homemade is always better of course …isn’t it?

Second on the list is breakfast in bed. Some fresh coffee  [the grinds of which will go on the mulch heap], poached eggs [taken from the hens that reside out my back garden] and some homemade brown bread. You could always buy some hens as a gift… ? That’d be different 😉

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After that it’s on to one of my favourite parks, Newbridge Demesne. This year Valentines Day is on the sunday so a little day trip out will fit perfectly. I like walking this park. I like the tea shop and I love the wee farm that’s out the back. It may not be your nearest park – but I have a list of parks I’ve reviewed here. I may just just bring the picnic and the flask of tea and coffee.

This post isn’t about me making myself look all wonderful and fantastic [even though I may already 🙄 😆 ] It may just however make your Valentines a little more romantic, a bit less commercialised and at the same time a little greener. And wouldn’t that be nice 🙂

I guess I don’t see what’s wrong with planting a tree for someone you love and watching it grow, together. And isn’t that a nice idea ?

Anyhow… from sometime ago here’s that poem I spoke about. For no aparent reason I titled it Balderdash:

Licking stamps eyes closed wide
Holding hands a winters tide
Cealing kisses an envelope torn
And doth returns the summers mourn

Fussy, would he is he can?
Holding hands when all began
Crossing roads an intersect, scorn
And lovers cry together reborn

A smile a glance a passing face
A flowers petals stripped of lace
Warmer softly into began
And tossled sepals a trickle ran

A smile so soft a rushing glow
A lovers charm a pause, you know
Happy, nothing but hands hold warm
And so returns a summers morn

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