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eoin kennedy – pr thursday garden guest #2

if you would like to know more about the thursday garden guest the pr sessions –  click here.

For the moment writer #2 is Eoin Kennedy of Slattery Communications

eoin kennedy

eoin kennedy

ABOUT:

Eoin Kennedy is an associate director with Dublin based PR company Slattery Communications.

He is also a director of the Irish Internet Association, graduate member of the PRII and MII, a judge of the Irish Blog Awards and the IIA Net Visionary Awards and a member of the communications committee of the Dublin Chamber of Commerce and the IIA Social Media Working Group.  In a previous life I was a secondary school teacher.

Outside of work I am passionate about sports. Never a great spectator I play football, jog, mountain walk, swim and cycle leading to a growing interest in Triathlons.

What I like about Gardens:

As a child growing up in Drimnagh, Dublin gardening was only of passing interest.  My grandfather encouraged us to grow plants and had spent many years growing all sorts of vegetables and fruit over the years (especially during the ‘Emergency’).   I even remember winning a prize of slug repellent for a cactus in the local horticultural show which is now sadly defunct.  Digging the garden was also rewarded by discovering old glass Bovril containers that the original builders had used to sustain themselves.  As an typical kid with too much energy, most of mine and my brothers, gardening experience was spent sneaking into neighbours gardens to reap the rewards of their gardening efforts by swiping apples and loganberrys.  The impact of five boys in one house meant that cruel blows were inflicted on hedges and lines of lilies.   Hedges were destroyed by us constantly jumping over them, crawling through them or punishing them with relentless football.

Nevertheless I grew up and the gardening bug was obviously waiting for the right opportunity.  For me gardening became a way of reducing the harshness of city life, relaxing and creating a space to escape.

Over the course of years sheds were added and boundary hedges were replaced with walls all leaving a grey, functional and cold feel.  As we added large windows to allow more light into the sitting room gardening became even more important as a way of linking the house with the outside environment.

Gardening for me has a pacifying physical work element that I enjoy.  Sitting at a desk and typing all day long softens up the body and clutters the mind and I found myself relishing the weekend challenge of hard lifting and getting my hands dirty.  I have never taken to delicate gardening and much of what I have done resembles more of a construction project than gardening.

So what did I actually do.  Firstly I put in a 30ft plus patio made up of old railway sleepers.  This runs directly along the back of the house and splits a small grass and peddle garden.  It is also bordered by sheds one of which links directly with the sleeper patio and is now nicely lined with a replanted wild rose bush (which my grandfather planted) and ivy which hides the concrete blocks.  On the other side is a small peddle garden with a water feature made from three vertically placed five and half foot limestone pieces that came from my wifes family farm in Mayo.  Two more of these are free standing in the grass section of the garden.  I planted a lot of bamboo on a raised gardens that surrounds the peddle garden and has now grown to fully cover the second shed and now forms a curtain of moving leavings that also insulates us from the next door neighbour.  This is interspersed with some other bushes including a 5ft rosemary bush and gives an all year round green feel.  The patio contains a 7ft wide circular table with 6 chairs, a couch and a selection of large potted plants.  At the back of the garden is small sunken garden where I put in a small fish pond with running fountain.  Again ivy has started to slowly cover the walls and some miscellaneous trees and bushes give nice shelter.  As the patio is raised the drab vista of neighbours back walls still dominated so I planted some silver birch and eucalyptus trees that rapidly grew to the point that this year I needs to scalp right back to allow some more light into the garden.  The remaining hedges that I only remember as being about 3-4 ft high as a child, have now grown to a 10ft wall that runs along side the house.  Other walls were topped with wooden shuttering forming a canvas for more plants.  My grandfather planted and sculpted an arched shaped hedge which I wanted to keep.  Transplanting it was tricky but it is slowing come back to live in a distant corner of the garden.  On a final raised garden I have planted an 8ft contorted witch hazel tree which gives and interesting twisted feel to the garden.

Thankfully the patio and garden benefit from the sun which disappears from the final corner of the patio around 9 in the evening during the summer.  The garden has always been small but irregularly shaped which makes it appear larger than it is.  It has also become an oasis for my wife and I that we actively use.  Overall its not a very subtle garden as most of the plants are tough and all year round but dropping leaves from the trees and flowers on the rose bush remind me of the passing of the year.  There are still enough nooks and crannies to wander around and there is always some manful gardening to be done.  We have made plenty of mistakes and really do not understand too much about plants but by in large most have survived, most are strong enough to survive by themselves and with the exception of the small grass spot it does not need much attention.

Looking around at the estate which is around 80 years old I see very little gardening.  Most have completely filled in their gardens with concrete and trees are by and large are pretty small or have been recently been cut down as the rush to have a no maintenance garden has kicked in.

I think this is a real pity.  The garden now gives us a place to relax when sunny, a mini gym to work off the stresses of life when cloudy and a fascinating backdrop to watch when stormy.

the great outdoors

the great outdoors...


neil o’ gorman – pr thursday garden guest #1

if you would like to know more about thursday garden guest the pr sessions –  click here.

neil o' gorman

neil o' gorman

For the moment writer #1 is Neil O’ Gorman of Bespoke Comunications.

ABOUT:

Prior to working in PR, Neil lived and taught English, Law and Politics in Paris in a variety of roles before returning to his native Dublin in late 1995 to “get a career together”.  He worked in a variety of project management roles in the charity sector, before landing a job in PR.  Neil is a former Director of Edelman where he spent 6 years working in the agency’s Consumer Brands division before leaving in October 2004 to set up a PR Division in BTL agency, Banks Love Marketing Communications. Neil established Bespoke Communications in June 2007.

What I like about gardens…

I have always loved the smell of freshly cut grass and it always makes me think of sunshine.  A bit less so in recent years, but I still equate one with the other.  In fact it was the love of that most hopeful and optimistic of smells that led to my obsession as a kid with cutting the grass in our home in Sutton Park in Bayside, Dublin 13.

As early as 9 years old I remember marking this out as my territory … “Mum, from here on in, I’ll do the gardens.  Front and back.  That’s now officially my job and you don’t need to even think about it any more”.  After all, I was the only one in the family obsessed with neatness and, therefore, was the only one who would really capable of doing the job ‘properly’!  And that meant not only cutting the edges all the way around and giving it a good old short back and sides of sorts, but also trying to create the sort of effect I used to enjoy observing on the pitches of England’s most famous football grounds on Match Of The Day or The Big Match.  Although, it has to be said that I was quite content producing an effective but consistent vertical pattern.  Even back then I knew my limits.  So, as much as I marvelled at the diagonals and the circular designs which started in the centre circle and got bigger and bigger as you moved closer to the touchline, I knew this was beyond me and my modest garden tools.  Efficiency, without real creativity.  A neat job.  That was enough to give me great pleasure.  I still do a neat job on my own garden, but still have never quite mastered the world of plants, flowers and shrubbery.

As is the case generally, it was all so much simpler back then.  Just grass and a few plants and bushes.  Nothing more exotic than roses, daffodils, honeysuckle (they used to taste so good!) and hydrangeas. That was it.  Easy, really. Now, however, in the same way that it is no longer merely enough to have a house, neither is it a case of just having a garden.  Our recently acquired national fascination with interior design has extended outside our front and back doors with some impressive and beautiful results everywhere you go.  But, it’s all got a bit too technical and high maintenance for me.

Don’t get me wrong, I love walking into people’s gardens and admiring what they’ve done to transform the space into something personal and personally rewarding with a little bit of imagination and a little bit of knowledge and understanding.  I have even felt a sense of regret when I’ve met people who have really taken time to apply themselves and learn something about the variety of plant life available and how to really look after it and, well, not just keep it alive, but help it thrive. What’s more, I’ve been known to become completely absorbed by gardening magazines in the doctor’s surgery and have wondered if it is one of those things I could turn my time to in later years. But, plenty time for that in the years ahead.  I’ve many other challenges to master before I turn my hand (or my fingers) green.

Still, to all those who have persevered, much respect.  And to all those who continue keep my favourite parks and gardens looking (and smelling) amazing – Botanic Gardens, St. Anne’s Park, Iveagh Gardens, St. Stephen’s Green, Phoenix Park – thank you. Your work has not gone unnoticed.

... i just love it

... i just love it