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Garden Talk: Spirit Of Folk Festival 2012

  • Speaker: Peter Donegan
  • When: 1.45 – 2.45pm, Saturday 22nd September 2012
  • Where: Spirit of folk Festival 2012, Dunderry Park, Co. Meath
  • Area: The Festival Ecology Area
  • Admission: see SpiritOfFolk.com for tickets and prices

What is The Spirit of Folk Festival:

Spirit of Folk is a three-day, family friendly festival running from 21-23 September in the stunning grounds of Dunderry Park, Co Meath. Over the weekend we’ll be rockin’ to some of the finest and freshest acts that folk music has to offer. Spirit of Folk promises to be the most eye-catching, intimate, and bewitching festival of 2012!

caroline duke, natasha duffy, peter donegan

Pictured above: Spirit of Folk organisers and lovely folk, Caroline Duke and Natasha Duffy with Peter Donegan at Dunderry House

  • Garden Talk Title: Gardening is for Grandmom’s. Grow Your Own is for for hippies.
  • Further: an evolutionary look at how we, horticulture and our relationship with the landscape has changed and grown over the years.

Peter Donegan began gardening at the age of 5. When he grew up, he went on to study horticulture for 4 years. In 2001 he set up Donegan Landscaping and has won a host of design and landscaping awards for 17th and 18th century gardens and show gardens at National competition. Peter hosts and presents The Sodshow, Dublin’s only garden radio show and podcast and lives in the wee town of Ballyboughal, North County Dublin with his family, his two dogs and his three hens.

More information on The Spirit of Folk Festival 2012:

Further information:

  • email: info[at]doneganlandscaping[dot]com
  • twitter: @DoneganGardens
  • phone: +353(87)6594688

Garden Ideas: 5 Uses of Features and Focal Points In Garden Design

car garden morris minor

All images and gardens by Peter Donegan/ Donegan Landscaping, Dublin

The better nee best features of any garden I have ever seen work, are those where the client, with the designer or creator almost decides to compel that design feature to commission.

A little Machiavellian by way of word choice maybe – but it is the revelation, the revealing over time and finally the receiving of that something very unique, created one-off and just for you and your garden  – that makes what may possibly seem like a gamble that I note, irrespective of garden size and budget – so very, very, very worthwhile.

That said, there is a difference between a house and a home – and – with gardens, better gardens – the main feature or what some may feel should be the main focus, should also work in tandem with its surrounds. Get that chemistry spot on and you might just have something very special.

The following are five examples of features in gardens that I have created. They are also decisions that made that garden a little different from the rest and for their owners, for the better.

1. Garden Walls with a Difference

donegan gardens dublin

If you can get this one right, you are on to an absolute winner. What I will say is it does require one to be a little bit daring, maybe, at the point of imagining what it will look like. Most tend to choose, as one might in interiors to have one featured colour wall and the rest white, for the sole logic of light purposes. As you can see in this garden, myself in the top corner planting away, the white was actually used on the lower walls the entire way around therefore allowing licence to be a little more sporadic on the upper level.

The backdrop plant of choice to soften is Fargesia, a dwarfed bamboo brought in slightly more mature and that shall only grow to around eight foot tall in its lifetime.

2. Garden Art

gardens dublin

It doesn’t have to be a piece of sculpt type olde art that you choose for your space outside, but do rest assured we have been using art in our gardens for absolute centuries. This piece was used in two of my gardens – one won two awards, one didn’t. Both great gardens. That aside, the decision to use art in our gardens has it seems been on the decline for some time.

That said, pick the right piece for the right space and surround it with choice perfect planting and you might just have that something so very special. In my opinion, we don’t use art outside enough.

3. A Feature Garden Structure

gazebo donegan garden

I’ve made and designed some great structure for some so much the better for it gardens, but this has to be one of my all time favourite garden structures I have ever used. I will admit there is no feeling greater than sitting underneath the stars whilst feeling like you are in a room of your own sipping a gin and tonic with some close friends.

If you can master that feeling ie. including the surrounds, so that the structure just stands out for the very right reasons during the day time, you have managed to achieve something extremely wonderful.

4. The Water Feature

garden water feature

There is nothing worse than a grandé anything in the wrong space and it is at this juncture that some variation of the quality not quantity cliché comes to mind. The key in all garden features is to get it just right and that’s were a good eye comes in for a great overall picture of just what it is you want. A bit like the gazebo, if it can have an additional use ie. during the day and at night-time, you have just got double bargain value for your pound.

5. A Hard Garden Surface

water garden dublin

Decks, cobble and all that is functional does have its place in the great outdoors – but if, once again, one can master so very good-looking with functionality then who am I to argue. I have created many walkable hard-surfaced finishes in my time – one of the simplest ever used in a garden of mine was this timber surface above. Divine perfection. Extreme simplicity.

In summary: the images used are ones I thought might strike a chord with you and personally, I’ll be very surprised if you like all of the images you see here. That said, they are a little unique, a little personal and individually loved by their owners.

More info:

dublin gardens

The Sodcast Guests – Jane Powers

sodshow, garden podcast

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

Listen to this Sodcast episode in MP3 – or – you can subscribe or/ and listen to the podcast via iTunes. Alternatively you can subscribe to the blog and listen to them right here. Missed Episode 9 of the garden podcast ?

Introducing Jane Powers

I met with Jane today, Tuesday 5th October in her back garden in Dun Laoghaire, Co. Dublin.

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Over a mug of coffee we had a sort of chat between two gardeners kind of a conversation about how, why and just where it all began.

Jane is a garden writer and photographer living in Ireland and writes the weekly gardening column in The Irish Times Magazine also contributing to various other publications in Ireland and the UK. At present she is working on two gardening books. The first, The Living Garden: a place that works with nature, will be published next spring by Frances Lincoln.

Jane is the second guest for the sodcast, the garden podcast.

I find personally, that to get an insight into the behind the scenes of a person, speaker, writer and in this case the fellow garden lover that is Jane makes such a huge difference to…. even just reading Saturdays article over again.

Jane will be a regular contributor on the Podcast and you can tune in this Thursday to hear my first conversation with her. Details of how to are at the top of this weblog post. You can also visit the sodcast – podcast page on iTunes

My Links for Jane:

You can of course contact me on:

If you listened to the Audio, you’ll really enjoy this…. It made me smile 😉

J. F. Powers Winner of the 1963 FICTION AWARD for MORTE D’URBAN

National Book Awards Acceptance Speeches:

Among my several children there is a little girl, Jane, age four. The other day she came to me with a piece of paper, a manuscript, her own, and I pretended to see words and sentences in her mock handwriting — with which she takes great pains. “Once upon a time,” I began. “Long, long ago.” After that, there was a moment when I didn’t know where I was, but I was relaxed about it, and soon I was reading along, going on about a bear and a dragon who had got into a hell of an argument over which one should be the one to step aside and let the other pass. Jane was absolutely hooked. And why not? A good, strong story line, dialogue, description, and characterization — all excellent. But I was beginning to wonder, as the story got better and better, how it would all end. To wonder, yes, and to worry. “And the bear opened his big red mouth,” I read, “and the dragon opened his big red mouth” — and right there I came to the bottom of the page, I looked to see if the story was continued on the other side, but it wasn’t. Silently I returned the manuscript to the author. She had a stunned look. “Wait,” she said, and pulling herself together, rushed off to write some more.

There, in that little scene, I can see the power and the glory of the storyteller — and the responsibility evaded. “The man of letters,” Allen Tate has said, “must recreate for his age the image of man, and he must propagate standards by which other men may test that image, and distinguish the false from the true.” This, of course, is easier said than done, but this should be the writer’s work, always the end in view. Even the ignorant man, if he is an artist, can reach beyond himself. He has the power, in Henry James’ words, “to guess the unseen from the seen, to trace the implications of things, to judge the whole piece by the pattern, the condition of feeling life in general so completely that you are well on your way to knowing any particular corner of it.” This is the writer’s power and glory. But not without responsibility, and this, for the writer, as writer, artist, means responsibility to his craft and therefore to his readers.

When Jane returned with her manuscript, I said, “Oh, yes. Well, the bear opened his big red mouth, yes, again, and the dragon opened his big read mouth, again, and — and they ate each other up!”

Jane, I could see, didn’t care for this at all, and didn’t properly understand it. “That was a dumb story,” she said, but not so much to me as to herself. She was blaming herself.

“No, Jane. That was a very good story,” I said, and that, in fact, was how I felt about the story.

And that is how I feel about my novel Morte D’Urban, too, but I want to thank the judges, Elizabeth Hardwick, Harry Levin, and Gore Vidal for honoring the book and me as they have.

Irish Independent March 3rd 2010

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Wednesday 3rd March was a nice day. I’d had a really great chat with Susan Daly over the phone last week and awoke to a clatter of texts and messages all singing Carly Simon on the answering machine 😉 Great to have humorous friends…

I must say it is a great article. Extremely well written by Susan and it was an absolute honour to speak with her. One of life’s really nice people.

For those that didn’t get to do so, one can read the article in full here. Apart from a sexy gardener erm….. 😆 also featured are two more of lifes really nice people kieran Murphy and Pat O’Mahony.

Thanks also to John Mc Williams for the photograph used above.

‘People ask why I don’t charge for my expertise — where’s the fun in that?

Wednesday March 03 2010

“I’m not stupid with the euro in my pocket, but some of the things I most enjoy I do for free. “Recently I took a group of people around the war memorial gardens in Islandbridge. “My wife made country apple pie and we had coffee in flasks, and we have another trip coming up to Ireland’s Eye. “But what people kept bouncing back to me afterwards was: Why didn’t you charge for it?

“I don’t get that. I competed at the Irish Conker Championships last year just for fun. “It’s like I won’t put a shop on my blog (doneganlandscaping.com), because that’s not why I do it.

“I’d say 50pc of the phone calls I get are for free gardening advice, and I’ve been on the garden side of things on the Niall Mellon trips. “I’m going to sound like a martyr, but for me, it’s just not the point of life to always have to tie in everything you do to paying the bills.”