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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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The Garden Group Guide

Some months ago I popped out a wee blog post to get an idea of who may be interested in [lets call it…] the great outdoors. You see, I was a bit peeved off with [the perception] of some groups.

From what I’m told/ can gather some feel that once one is degree in horticulture-less or without manicured parallel lines of Buxus semprevirens one may be frowned upon. Note: [and please do] This is not to be insulting, in any way. It’s simply what has been portrayed to me and to an extent what I have received myself. But then that is in every walk of life irrespective of gardening? It doesn’t however make it correct. It certainly doesn’t encourage new virility nor an energetic youthfulness [of the mind].

For example, this is how the Photograph Bloggers do it….

You don’t need a big, expensive camera. You can even use your phone and if you check out the photoblogs, you’ll see plenty of superb shots taken in this way. Don’t be intimidated by those with gear you could swap for a car. Remember, a good shot is in the eye, not the camera!

Horticulture was described to me some time ago as a bit like teaching the Irish language or ye olde english poetry in that with the wrong teacher [?] one could be very quickly turned off and potentially for life. I would agree with that. And whilst I have more letters after my name than most some…. 😉 No intelligence should allow one to show ignorance nor assume hierarchy.

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The funny thing about this group [for this first trip] is some don’t even have gardens. Fact. I’d guess 99% have never had a garden tour. And the maybe more/ a majority have never studied or done a garden related course. And what does that matter?

You see two things will happen here – approximately 20 people will get an insight into one of Ireland’s lesser known parks, from it’s horticulture to it’s history – that they have never been to before.

The second thing that will happen is The War Memorial Park in Island Bridge will have more information available on the web than could ever have been perceived prior to. Which leads me back to paragraph one multiplied by the amount of readers. In which case, my hope is that some readers may go there themselves and maybe you might even hear…

00OOO00h so that’s what Darren was talking about… you see honey what Lutyens was thinking when he designed in those two water features was…. [*reefs out iphone & searches culch.ie] ….I mean what they symbolise is…

Now we’re all talking the great outdoors…? Anyhow… Back to it….. Here’s what I asked previous:

are you interested in the greeny garden outdoors kinda thing but don’t want to fall asleep within the first 7 minutes/ seconds ….? ;)

what if we became the hippest bunch of jimmedy crickets ever to cross the green line ?

All of the great bits of green and horticulture – except in a pair of jeans and a t-shirt [if that’s what you like to wear ;) ]

The response has been amazing. The people wishing to go are simply really nice people. I never thought a green-ee gig, free or otherwise could sell out in less than 3-4 hours.

If you are thinking of coming along to an outing – here are the rules basic principles of logic courtesies that apply. They are of course very simple.

  • If your name is not on the list [left via comment] – you are not going!
  • If you need to drop out – that’s fine but do so as soon as is possible
  • I don’t get paid nor receive any gratuities for this
  • If you don’t make the first quota – put your name down on the waiting list
  • The quota is most likely not decided by me
  • You really do enjoy yourself 🙂

Got a suggestion… thoughts or comments below

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2009 A Good Year ….?

I did do a review of the year 2008. But it’s onwards and upward and whilst we head into 2010… here’s a look back on the last 12 months of 2009.

*If I missed or forgot something or someone – just hollar and I will ammend as soon as possible 😉

  • December was kicked off with the Carbon Neutral Revolution and Trim 2025

Whilst I flicked through my diary and realised just how much I actually had done… it should be noted that none of this would make any sense without someone to share the stories, the laughter and equally the tears with. I am forever greatful to the so many great friends and people I have met along this years road. Thank you. 🙂

Did I enjoy it? Every second. Don’t get me wrong… no road is an easy an easy one especially when I work in an industry that is so weather dependant and I am self employed. That is not a complaint…. more an additional reason to appreciate the people who stand tall by my side when time are tougher and there too when we laugh our socks off.

Go raibh míle maith agaibh. Nollaig Shona duit. Slán agus beannacht.

Thank you again, for everything.

*View the statistics for Peter Donegan Landscaping Weblog

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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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Gardening Nude – a book review

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This is a really unusual story…. in a sense. I’d had this idea for a book. A garden book….. I still do, anyhow… the book idea aside, it was to be something a little, not Royal Horticultural Society, all pot pourri kind of smoking jacket – esque etc… you get my drift.

Via my good mate Pat Fitzgerald I get an introduction to a lady called Shawna Coronado. Who’s written a book called gardening nude.

I got talking to Shawna. She sent me a copy. Signed. I read it. I wanted to review it but…. I felt, at the time, as I kinda knew Shawna, that it would be unfair [to you] to review someones book who I knew – where normally I buy the books myself and then [openly] review them.

[Mainly because people don’t send me stuff to review. Mainly because not a lot of people in horticulture ‘get’ green blogging. Which surprsises me cosidering their books are sold online…..]

So I gave the book to my Sis-in-law. She reviewed it. Emailed it to me. And then, in short, I wiped my entire computer…. and now I can’t get the book back…. which is a nice compliment, for Shawna.

So I called Shawna and said I do the review anyway. 😉

sidewalk-view-2009-3

one of Shawna's side walks

Being honest…. really honest? When I first read the title…. well, you know yourself 😆

But whilst it may sound childlike to have that as a first image…. it was that childlke hat that I was glad to be wearing when I read the book.

Gardening Nude is a book that I would buy for any person who has never gardened before. Or has. It is gardening – but it is also, or moreso a  journey through someones life, who gardens. Does that make sense…?

It’s a gardeners story. It’s not all botanical names and bullshit you need a thesaurus to get through… it’s real life. I found it heart warming that a little strip of land [what we may all a verge] was landscaped for passers by to take time out, to sit down [bench included] and relax [this is just one of many pictures]. I found it more heart warming when this turned into a community garden… the list literally goes on as far as Shawna is concerned.

The difference here though is, like my neighbour asking me, [is in my opinion] is the hanging basket she just made up ok… ? The answer is, did it make her smile creating what for her, isn’t something that is done everyday[?]…. always a yes! It’s not Chelsea Flower Show all the time; and in that context – it’s perfect 🙂 To analagise that back to this book. I cannot be critical. In any way. Horticulturally. And with that in mind, I loved every second of it.

It was a mild escape from the often botanical [nonsense] system I live and love…. but sometimes helping your neighbour make something pretty for the front of their house is much more fun 😉

I emailed Shawna and asked her for a little insight into the why’s, who’s and why again. Here’s what I got….

1.] is this your first book. will it be your last

Never my last! GN was a great experience and I adore writing; I produce nearly 4,000 words per week for the several blogs and newspaper columns I write, so I look forward to many, many more years of writing and certainly many more books.

2.] its not gardening…. but it is gardening…. explain yourself! [smiles]

One day several years ago I walked out behind my property line and built a small garden for the public on a city easement area next to a public walking path. I was rewarded with the most unimaginable love from my community; people stop to say hello, give me hugs, and leave me gifts. All because of this little garden. Soon I expanded the garden because of all this love and encouragement onto my neighbor’s easement property, and within two years, the garden became over 200 feet long and my link to the heart of the community. After I built the site, it became apparent that I was touching the community on an emotional level. I was stripping away the excuses and pretty much putting myself out there in a way that was personal – saying I was “nude” is purely metaphorical, but it’s a great way to express the openness I experienced.

The book, “Gardening Nude” is not about gardening (or being nude) so much as it’s about the journey of getting healthier physically and emotionally. It is about being involved with the community and making a difference for the world in a big way. When I stepped outside that fence and built that garden – after already building hundreds of feet of garden INSIDE the fence – I suddenly realized that my improved health was not just from being outdoors and gardening. It happened because I was able to reach out and lovingly share time with the community. For me it represented a miracle cure and upon realizing the importance of helping others; a huge life change.

3] would you consider yourself famous now….?

No. Although it has been one rather interesting experience to be published and have “fans” sending emails and asking questions. It is an adventure.

4] what do most say they get from your book…?

Most people say they are inspired. It makes them feel as if they are not the only one’s struggling with defining better health and trying to live simpler and greener. In the end, I want people to feel as if they can make a difference themselves – every day, one step at a time.

5] what did you think people would get from it, at first… ?

When you first see and leaf through the book, it is a guide to living healthier and greener, and building community. Easy steps are listed. But once you read the book from cover to cover, you see it is a motivating and inspiring guide which speaks to the human need to be help each other get through life.

6] what where your thoughts when you first sat down with the pen/ typewriter/ computer?

I’d already been writing a newspaper column for several years when I first sat down to write GN. I thought I was an experienced writer and that creating an inspirational book would be easy – a snap. My first idiotic thoughts, “This is gonna be easy!”

Within two weeks I was bashing my head against the computer keys realizing my stupidity. To be a good author on green lifestyle living, the author needs to be more than experienced at living the lifestyle, the book also needs to be well-researched and documented. This research took nearly three months of hard work, followed by seven months of straight blood-sweat-and-tears writing, and of course, several additional months of editing and styling.

7] are you of irish decent ?

I am of Irish/German decent and have the blue eyes and freckles to prove that fact. J I have dreamed for many years of coming to visit Ireland. This summer I toured the U.S. keynote speaking –  I love it as much as writing – and am hoping to expand and travel internationally over the next several years. Maybe I’ll get lucky and have someone bring me in for a keynote tour? Celtic music is beautiful to me and my current favorite Celtic song by a traditional group is The Chieftain’s version of “North Amerikay”. Love it!

8] do you drink guinness…?

Sadly I am allergic to beer. No kidding. However, I do like whiskey. ::grin::

9] sum your own book up in less than 4 words…?

Gardening Nude is inspirational!

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