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Suggestions for 2010….?

The year 2009 [go take a look and come back….] saw me take on a very varying range of what some may call challenges. I’m wondering if 2010 will prove as much a challenge….?

Now is your chance to recommend, suggest or get in touch. Whether it be in the form of a landscape project, an event, writing, radio or even just something that you feel should be covered on the weblog….. or the garden group should visit

How to:

  • Leave a comment below
  • email info [at] doneganlandscaping [dot] com
  • or get in contact
  • or drop around for a decent cup of coffee
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Quizical Christmas Times For An Irish Gardener

ní thigim...?

Nollaig Shona...!

It’s a funny situation when as a ‘gardener’ [?] for a living – the Summer Christmas holidays come around…. It’s the one day of the year when I try and rest my brain, horticulturally 😉

I buy the Irish Times. It sits there…. I pick it up… I put it back down and like a child with 20 selection boxes sitting under a tree…. I know I shouldn’t but, I pick up the magazine section again. The reason for my hesitation… one woman. One with simply too many questions…. Jane Powers.

I look puzzled as the guests arrive and start to query my puzzled look. Eventaully, I explain….

It’s Jane. Same thing as last year. But this year it’s worse. ?! Now it’s question 35…….. What do Crocosmia ‘Lucifer’, Geum ‘Mrs Bradshaw’ and Dahlia ‘Bishop of Llandaff’ have in common….?

...with lilly

...with lily

And this year The Ultimate gardening Quiz returns on December 19th. Mark your calender. This is one that I never miss….

Think you got what it takes…. ? Try the questions [see below] from last years…….. 😉

If you don’t know Jane Powers…. [This is the World Wide Web after all…] She has been writing about gardens and gardening in the Irish Times since 1995, contributing a weekly gardening column since February 1997 amongst many other publications; an Irish inspector for the Good Gardens Guide, and has been a judge for several garden competitions in Ireland.

She is presently working on a book for gardeners (both experienced and new) who wish to manage their spaces in an environmentally-friendly manner, with as gentle as possible an impact on the earth. The book, which she is illustrated with her own photos, will be published by Frances Lincoln in 2010.

The 2008 Christmas Quiz

  1. Which one of these hedging plants keeps its dead leaves on the branches over winter: beech, hawthorn, blackthorn?
  2. What seasonal, festive plant is a parasite of trees?
  3. Which of these garden creatures is not a vegetarian: aphid, snail, spider?
  4. Which spring flower shares the same name as the young man in Greek mythology who fancied himself so much that he spent his entire time gazing at his reflection in a pool?
  5. Where in Ireland will you find the highest box hedges in the world?
  6. What is the best way of propagating carrots: by division, by seed, or by semi-ripe cuttings?
  7. What is the genus name of the rabbit-eared flower in the photo?
  8. Fresh grass clippings should be added to the compost heap to supply extra carbon. True or false?
  9. On what kind of a plant would you be likely to find an awn?
  10. What is remarkable about the appearance of these potato varieties: Arran Victory, Edzell Blue and Congo?
  11. What shrub is commonly known as “Christmas box”?
  12. This year, 2008, we celebrated which of these occurrences: the United Nation’s Year of the Potato, the Pan-European Parsnip Party, or the All-Ireland Cabbage and Kale Carnival?
  13. What is an “eyecatcher”? Is it: a Himalayan plant with pernicious thorns; an implement for taking the eyes out of potato tubers; or an architectural feature on a distant hill?
  14. The petals of which of these flowers is not edible: viola, nasturtium, buttercup?
  15. Pomes and drupes are both kinds of what particular botanical item?
  16. What is the name of the garden with the Italianate pond in the photo?
  17. The flower of the dragon arum (Dracunculus vulgaris) has a distinctive smell. How would you describe it?
  18. Why does it smell that way?
  19. What characteristic do the following plants share: Sambucus nigra ‘Eva’, Ranunculus ficaria ‘Brazen Hussy’ and Aeonium ‘Zwartkop’?
  20. In A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens, Ebenezer Scrooge suggests that every idiot who goes about with “Merry Christmas” on his lips, should be “boiled with his own pudding”, and buried with a stake through his heart. Of what plant does he recommend that the stake be made?
  21. Which part of the plant does the larva of the vine weevil consume?
  22. What is a fruit cage? Is it: an enclosure to protect berrying plants from birds; a climbing frame for strawberries; or a device for isolating bad apples?
  23. Verbena bonariensis is one of the most popular garden plants of the last decade. What does “bonariensis” mean?
  24. What do the following plants have in common: Cornus, Nepeta, Equisetum and Arisarum proboscideum?
  25. What is the common name of the spiny flower in the photo?
  26. What two seasonal plants combine to make the anagram “little me, so holy”?
  27. If you were to “harden off” a plant, what would that mean?
  28. Name the designer whose garden won “Best Show Garden” at this year’s Chelsea Flower Show.
  29. What is another name for the pedicel?
  30. Which of these food crops is it customary to propagate asexually: lettuce, potato, parsnip or pea?
  31. What does the Latin epithet “alpina” (or “alpinus”, or “alpinum”) mean in a plant name – as in Celmisia alpina?
  32. Raceme, corymb, panicle and spike refer to what part of a plant?
  33. What is the common name of the presently ubiquitous plant, Euphorbia pulcherrima?
  34. “Poems are made by fools like me,/But only God can make a tree.” These are the last two lines of a famous poem. What are the first two lines?
  35. What do the following plants have in common: Crocosmia ‘Lucifer’, Geum ‘Mrs Bradshaw’ and Dahlia ‘Bishop of Llandaff’?
  36. The modern Italianate garden in the photo was designed by Irishman Paul Doyle. What was the name of the garden show this summer in which it won the award for best large garden?
  37. What do the following plants have in common: Alchemilla, Athyrium, Cardamine pratensis and Cypripedium?
  38. What kind of Irish historical plants are to be found in the Lamb-Clarke Collection at University College Dublin?
  39. Sciarid fly, hoverfly, whitefly and carrot fly: which of these is a friend to the gardener?
  40. What South African succulent is know as the “money plant” and is believed in some cultures to bring wealth to a household or business?

UPDATE: 17th December ’09

and as promised the answers to the quiz

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Top 20 Green Influencers to follow on Twitter

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Niall and Lauren did something similar over on Simply Zesty

But whilst this list refers to those only green – it is here I must side step slightly….

For it seems in Ireland, in the horticultural department at least…. we really do not get the online gig. And if ‘we’ do… it’s not done terribly well.

I found it extremely difficult to get to the Irish ten mark. And I basically had to give up after….. I could not find 10 Irish & green twitter accounts that I would recommend one follow.

I’m not saying there aren’t 10 green related people on twitter….. I’m talking 10 that use it for what it was intended and for what you wish to use it for…. Not the numbers game, not some company or politicians pimping themselves because some social media guru said so…. but for the exchange ie.  a two way street of useful information…..

That’s the thing with social networks – it’s meant to be a conversation – not a megaphone!

In that context I had to travel outside of Ireland…. and here’s what I ended up with. I’ll borrow the simply zesty disclaimer for this list and save myself the hassle. The list has been compiled based on my own personal opinion of using Twitter over the last year and is by no means the definitive list. There will be some who feel they belong on the list (add yourself in the comments and I may turn it into a top 100 soon) and there will no doubt be a couple that I have completely forgotten and how I follow everyday and who will be offended, I apologize in advance.

*click on the persons @ name to go to that account

1. @PatFitzgerald

pat

pat

based in kilkenny, Pat is a master grower of a mildly different range of plants in an Irish context… I’ve known Pat for I dont know how long, created I dont know how many gardens with and even managed to meet on the odd occasion for a few cups of tea. With over 85% of his products exported, this plant grower, plant breeder and part blogger really does get the online gig. Top that off with simply being a really nice guy. visit: the myplant website

2. @RepakRecycling

I worked along side the repak boys [and girls] on their recycle week 2009 launch garden… but it is the little trinkets of information that come out of someones head a couple of times a day that make me smile. visit recyclemore.ie

3.@PowersFlowers

jane

jane

A garden writer, journalist, with the Irish Times since 1995 and an actual garden lover who simply loves the great outdoors. Jane has gardened since she was a small girl, at first sowing and growing the usual suspects: lettuces, radishes, spring onions and nasturtiums. She now lives and gardens in Dun Laoghaire. She has a sixth of an acre, which she gardens organically, and with respect to the rhythms of nature, as much as possible. read Janes article every Saturday in The Irish Times. 

4. @IrishAllotments

run and managed by Thomas Cowderoy based in Cork. Surprisingly Tom is not a gardener…. this is something he runs in his spare time. Another one of lifes good guys. Visit Irish Alltments website

5. @BordBia

with the amalgamation of bord glas [the green board] and bord bia [the state ‘food board’] into one there really is no alternate to these guys. In that context I may disagree and equally agree. But, if you wish to know what’s happening in Ireland in the green department, here’s your answer. visit Bord Bia‘s website

6. @WildIreland

Described as Ireland’s wildlife and nature in 140 character burstsand that pretty much sums it up. New-ish to the scene but very much one to watch. No website to date.

7. @DoneganGardens

yip thats me. 😉 stuck on numbers at this point and so I’ve got it to 7. Onwards and upwards………visit Donegan Landscaping blog

8. @The_RHS

RHS

RHS

The royal horticultural society on twitter? I neraly fell off my stool when I found the oldest gardening society was embracing technology.

I even blogged it – but credit where it is due these guys really are one to watch and use the online medium to its maximum. It took the Irish equivolent a few years to catch on to this one and check out the date of announcing online [via online] ticket sales. Vist the RHS website

9. @GreenOptions

Green Options describes itself as ‘a community and network of blogs dedicated to helping you figure out what sustainability means to you. Pick a channel above or browse around.’

And that’s exactly what it is. What I choose to do is the somewhat the opposite… I keep an eye, sometimes, on the tweets and – if – the post interests me, I’ll give it a browse over. Some interesting stuff in there! Visit The Green Options Website

10. @ShawnaCoronado

shawna

shawna

I reviewed Shawnas book a short while ago now. Not a gardener all her life but now she is and loves every second of it. A consultant, author, columnist, and wild woman. Loves life, health, greening, the environment, and digging in the garden. Visit Shawna’s blogs here

11. @OrganicLife

Organic Lifestyle Magazine is a digital publication dedicated to organic lifestyles, alternative health and green living. I’ve never bought the magazine but like @greenoptions at number 9 some interesting pieces in there well worth a read. visit organic life website

12. @grow_green

an Irish one that almost slipped by there. Not too sure who grow green, due to the fact only that there is no website linked. That said, the answer seems to be someone who loves the great outdoors. With messages explaining that weeding was order of the day all weekend and most recently this little nugget… 😉 love it! No website to date.

Just joined 10:10 – the project to cut UK carbon emissions 10% in a single year. http://1010uk.org: an idea whose time has come. #1010

13. @treehugger

Links, Ideas and Conversation from the TreeHugger hive mind, the latest in modern green. Visit the tree hugger website here

14. @ecopond

Ecopond helps you play a part in keeping our planet green. Visit ecopond website here

15. @sweetrebecca

rebecca

rebecca

Landscape Designer, Garden Coach, Blogger, Live-Eat-Breath anything garden related, mom of 2 wonderful teenagers. Life is good!! – is how Rebecca Sweet describes herself. There’s not a day goes by that she’s not talking plants with Pat Fitzgerald….  Her blog site Gossip In the Garden is well worth a daily read

16. @interleafer

The musing of California based Laura Schaub all in one bite sized nugget. A award winning landscape designer, writer and photographer and now on the staff of the San Francisco Garden Show. Is there anything this girl hasn’t done. Oh did I mention she was also really nice.Visit The Interleafer website

17. @GardenInTheDark

the green thoughts of freelance writer and journalist Sandra Dark. New to gardening…? follow Sandra her little trinkets are just genius…. 😉 Read Sandra’s gardening pieces here

17. @cop15

cop15

cop15

I’m holding at 17 here…. zero interaction but – a useful one to keep an eye on….. moving on – United Nations Climate Change Conference 2009 in Copenhagen (COP15), brought to you by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Denmark.

Well worth watching noting and paying particular good attention to… you’ll read this and wonder why carbon credits exist in the first place.  All bundled up into 140 charachters. Visit Cop15 website

18. @LifeOnTheBlcny

Fern Richardson writes her blog 99% about container gardening on balconies and patios. The reason why I actually pay attention and it seems so many others do to. Videos, images, reviews and anything else you reckon you couldn’t do in a small space….all rammed into 140 charachters and one whopping blog site!Visit Life On The Balcony Website

19. @bbctreeoclock

Meet Kate from the BBC Breathing Places team and make your pledge to plant a tree for Tree O’Clock. They’ve already smashed the world record for number of trees planted by 100 people.

All their trees count towards the UN Environment Programme’s Billion Tree Campaign. Hoping this one is simply gonna continue…. it might just start a trend elsewhere. Visit the BBC Tree O Clock website

20. @TheWoodlandTrust

wasn’t best pleased to see a little of the twitter numbers game being played byt then who I am I to argue. But then I’m an individual and not an organisation. That said Sharon from the Woodland Trust Digital team along with a few colleagues from around the organisation  do actually keep you posted on what they do and what you can do 😉 I’ll give them credit for that. On another note – If there is a variation of this in Ireland… I’ve yet to find out about it. As a twitter account it works and really well. Visit The Woodland Trust Website

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write, is there any point…

hmmm....

snow point....!

Well there is something good about this weather, horticulturally, but that’s another post for next week:) In the meantime now is a good time to get a little of myself out there. For as you [should] know by now I love to write. I love horticulture. Put the two together and I’m pretty much loving life.

For the moment here’s what someone else has written about me…

Peter studied horticulture for four and a half years. He holds a certificate in commercial horticulture from Teagasc, an Advanced Diploma in Horticulture and the general examination in Horticulture from the royal horticulture society. He is also a Full Member of the Institute of Horticulture.

Peter has been involved in the horticultural industry since 1992. With several working places in Ireland, England and Scotland before starting his own business, Peter Donegan Landscaping Ltd.

Peter has written for many publications; The Farmers Journal, Self Build Ireland magazine. Freelance including The Irish Independent, Diarmuid Gavin Design magazine, Horticultural and Landscape Ireland.

For those who don’t know… I have written about ‘horticulture’ pretty much since time began. If you do need a writer, a one off, a freelance, a regular… then here’s a brief synopsis of who and what I am… I need a writing challenge.

If you’ve got a idea, a suggestion or simply want a cup of real coffee [arsenal mug supplied – see photo -or bring your own 🙂 ] you can contact me by phone, email info[at]doneganlandscaping[dot]com or simply direct message me on twitter.

self build magazine – winter ’08 issue

You want to get the garden designed. You have already tried and after spending the entire lottery, it still looks humerous. The sun is shining. The neighbours have just started the barbeque. You own a jungle. Where do you start?

investing in a garden....

investing in a garden... ?

If this is you? then, at €4.50 [not bad value at all!] the winter issue of Self Build Extend & Renovate Ireland, is exactly the read you are looking for. Of course it is written by yours truly – and to pat myself on the back just that little more… it is really good, sound advice on how, when and why you should should consider a garden.

Some of the articles I have written previous are almost specialist in their topic – but this is one I feel is one that everyone can identify with.

The intro may suggest barbeques [what 😉 ] but – this is all about planning. Planning I say not in the sense of a cheap garden look, moreso in that the maximum return is achieved from one’s budget.

Available in all good newsagents, bookstores etc. Or purchase it online.

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In The Beginning

Probably one of the most difficult guarantees any horticulturist can give is a definite improbability that any plant is going to live. The reality is that a plant is defined as ‘a living organism that grows in the ground and lacks the power of movement’. This explains so much, and knowing that a living organism must endure not only the delightful elements of our weather, but that a little more hindrance must be catered for by our green friends when we put it in a place it would not prefer to be in the first instance.

I spent some of my spare time looking through an old bookstall recently looking for inspiration from old horticultural books. One gem I did find was “The All Year Garden” by Margery Fish (first published 1958). Whilst thoughts, styles and ideals may have changed in the last fifty years, the truth is plants and their definition has not. The preface of her book says of Mrs Fish that “It is, perhaps, encouraging to know that Mrs Fish has acquired her gardening knowledge by her own practical experience as an amateur, since she went to live in Somerset in 1938.” In her earlier book she was of the opinion that “It is only possible to make a garden with no off-moments by careful selection of flowering plants and the use of foliage and berried plants.” Thus, if you know the type of ground you have, all you need do is match it to your favourite plants.

Is gardening that easy? Fish, an amateur by her own admission, very simply understood plants and understood that for a successful garden, one should prepare and plan very carefully. It is true that soil type (see Summer 2007 where this is discussed in more detail), plays a major factor in successful plant growth, but if this understanding is in place then the soil that you have inherited or somewhat adapted should not pose a problem.

The beauty about horticulture now is that you can read this article and have an understanding of what type of garden you can have, but you don’t have to wait through twenty years of experience to know that you have got it right, eventually. Nowadays there are many qualified horticulturalists to guide you. As their client you just need to decide what style or concept you wish and let them work out the details. You may take over at any time or leave the professional to complete the journey on your behalf.

Most people who possess anything like an acre, or half of it, contribute to the support of a gentleman known as the jobbing gardener. Be warned of the danger that he may prove to be Garden Pest No.1.

C.E Lucas-Phillips, The Small Garden 1952

If all this is virgin territory to you then going it alone is likely to end in failure. An hour’s professional consultation is a very worthwhile investment. A good building architect should charge and similarly so should ‘a good’ horticulturist. Do be careful however, not to tell the consultant/ designer, you are paying, the garden design he or she should draw for you and the names of the plants you like. It is better to describe the general feel or concept you have in mind. Their opinion may not be yours but is most probably based on good reason and experience. Even if you do feel yourself to be ‘green fingered’, it’s always helpful to look at other gardens in the area and see what’s doing well there! With every garden, remember that a proportion of plants and plans falter at the starting line so allow for all eventualities before you start.

Most of you reading this article will be in the process of either considering or starting to build soon. If so, you should be planning your garden now as well. When machinery is on site movement of soil is done at no extra cost and, more importantly, soil is not removed and then reintroduced again unnecessarily at considerable expense. Here is where you consultant will pay dividends and almost as important, you may save yourself their fee and more.

What goes Where

As previously mentioned, soil and plant types can be categorised very simply into either ericaceous or acid loving, and non-ericaceous/ alkali or normal plants, when considered by soil type only. It is now other factors that must be taken into consideration. For example, the size and shape of your garden, whether in town or country, what surrounds it and the climatic conditions which affect it directly.

Next up is looking at what your family want. Be it lawn or the (improbable) ‘no maintenance’, from shelter to privacy, planting is something that will ease the mind and soften that symmetrical build that so often stands out from the natural landscape rather than blending in. I urge you to choose your outlay carefully, be a little adventurous, and to choose plants that will have a better chance of living.

There is no magic or mystery about gardening – it is just common sense. The ‘green finger’ theory can be discredited, too, for through the ages there have been men with a special aptitude for certain jobs – whether making a violin or milking a cow; but this comes only after close application, and in this gardening is similar to any other job.

E. R. Janes The Flower Garden 1952

Garden design in Ireland has taken a different move recently. I worked in the trade for ten years before I felt comfortable putting pencil to paper and starting my design practice. Nowadays one can simply go to college, maybe do a garden show and start the business by selling drawings on paper. However, a design on paper does not ensure a well designed garden. A proper, full design service should follow some crucial steps.

The designer should:

Meet with the client and try to understand their personality, their lifestyle and their family way of living through the seasons. How much time they actually want to spend in the garden no matter the size, and whether they wish to spend time maintaining by simply cutting the grass, looking at their picturesque view or becoming heavily involved in a new daily lifestyle.

Designing a garden is a lot more than just drawing a pretty picture. It is a calculated reflection of ones personal lifestyle that the design professional must create. Whether that be an award winning and historical seventeenth century estate, an art-deco style house or a rural farm cottage, creating an inspiring landscape is borne from education, experience and, as important, a little soul.

It would be extremely difficult to describe how to landscape and design every garden within a few paragraphs, but what I can do is provide you with some good guidelines. The primary consideration for most people is the cost of a design service. The service itself is available at many levels and naturally depends on how much you want from your designer, to how much you have to invest in drawings. The cost will be based upon the degree of service you require.

Step 1: choose a garden designer based on reputation like commissioning an art piece and ask for an initial consultation. This part is not a tender process.

I spoke to a colleague friend of mine recently who told me he had done the finest design ever, according to his client. The project? a 10M x 6M garden. The design? all done in grass! The client in question had five children and two dogs. Not adventurous perhaps, but it sure suited their needs. A very different example was a client who worked in the tourism sector. He never had weekends off and always worked during the day. Here it was simply a case that the south facing garden/ sunniest spot rules logic went right off the drawing board. His need was for a garden that looked good early and late in the day.

Step 2: consider your family and lifestyle. Is there need for a play area, barbecue or somewhere to entertain?

One of the most important parts of all is how much of the day do you wish to spend in the garden? And Be honest. If a garden doesn’t cost time then it will cost money and time is what people always forget to allow for. The biggest change in garden design recently is a request for bespoke manufactured outdoor buildings and vegetable patches. Fifty per cent of the vegetable patches are removed within the first two years! Usually I try to replace these with some fruit trees under-planted with herbs that will be used quite regularly.

Step 3: the costs of maintaining the design.

Most important of all are the surroundings. Whether it is a rural setting where you have inherited or maybe purchased a farm cottage, or a two bedroom town house in a ‘newer’ village, all of the rules above still apply. Just as a large area of decking is out of place on an historic house, so is a Leyland hedge in a small urban or city garden. These are very golden, nee ethical rules we should all follow.

Space is a big commodity and as my Father would say, they don’t make land in Ireland anymore. It does not however mean that the typical garden of your old family home must be crammed into your new, small suburban garden. As John Brooks said in The Small Garden:

‘Gardens first and foremost are for people, not plants’, and continues, ‘The key to realising the potential of your small space, in both visual and practical terms, is design – this involves planning and styling your space so that it suits your way of life, as well as the character of your home and its surroundings.

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