holidays for a garden designer

‘Tranquil settings, the finest of surrounds within the peaceful and serene grounds complete with parklands and golf course.’ This all sounds absolutely superb but what the small print on the booklet didn’t tell me was that this would be, for me, a true bus-mans holiday.

It was a few weeks ago when invited away for a weekend to a wedding in the Irish countryside I and my partner tip-toed out of the entertainment to relax and walk the grounds for a little time and a quiet breath of fresh air in the outdoor suite know known to some as ‘The Michael Martin Lounge’. Although the overview of the mountain range was a picture post card to say the least, as we walked I found the intricate detailing of to be a little less than I would have got away with as a horticulturist and this be a contract of mine.

To analagise for the non-wedding fanatics; When asked to play golf, where on a very regular basis I decline every offer. I refuse on the basis that, possibly and extremely probably, standing at the tee-box waiting for my three companions to commence their four hours approximate non-perspirational sport – I find myself daydreaming, pondering, wondering and then examining (what some find as pure enjoyment) the ground beneath my feet, to the extent that my working mind overthrows the relaxation cells of my brain. When my good lady-on-arm asked what was wrong. (as if by chance the wedding had made me teary eyed and I, in the moment, fancied as a stroll up the aisle myself ?!!) To her dismay I pointed out that there seemed to be no evidence of any use of a semi selective translocated herbicide via a calibrated sprayer on the main lawns and that the rambling roses really could use a little systemic fungicide and insecticide. I don’t think she really wanted to hear the dilution rates in hindsight!

The thought crossed my mind that although I do sincerely love the trade that I am in, in order for me to attain the same overwhelming factor that my non-horticulturalised friends derive from their ‘getaways’ I would need to retire myself from the trade to ascertain the same procurement. Understand when I say that I truly do and have embraced my career but sometimes, just sometimes it’s nice to switch off. The question is how and where?

The reality I love every day of my working life and ‘switching off’ is not something I want to ever do.

head and shoulders above…

after my last post and my previous attempt at humour. This may make amends for it… just or make things worse? Titled head and shoulders above… this postcard was sent to clients to say thank you for working with us. Although all were grateful of the sentiment, most were not so in awe of my sense of humour!

‘Stick to horticulture‘ replied one client…

slan go foill


horticulture – it’s a funny business

garden comedy


a fellow blogger sent me this yesterday. I hope it makes you smile on a slightly overcast Tuesday in Dublin.

As always enjoy, peter

[UPDATE: actually it was the very thoughtful Anne who sent me the cartoon sorry nezza and Anne.?!!]

int garden festival [2] – the finale?

another garden festival...?

another garden festival...?

Before I go any further, please refer to this article first and it’s comments.

The news is out. Titled Failed garden festival has over €1m debt, Ian Kehoe wrote the facts in yesterdays Sunday Business Post. Ian’s a good guy who tells it well and I’m a SBP fan, as those who read my articles will know.

Like all things in business though, especially anything horticulture related, there is a risk. Here it simply didn’t work out. To those of you in the creditors box I hope it comes good for you, sincerely.

I’ll move on, whatever the reasons, Rosaleen Flanagan tried on the big stage and for this I know and hope she’ll bounce back. I knew what was happening behind the scenes as it happened. Ireland is small and my trade is even smaller.

My only problem regarding the IGF was when ‘a journalist’ from another publication [NOT SBP] called me asking for my thoughts, facts and any other relevant information I had. I was bemused. Unlike the SBP, this publication didn’t publish any article when IGF needed a good write up and some PR fuel, so I was reluctant to give any information to say it was in flames and help it burn down. Especially if my name was only going to appear only as the whipping boy only. It’s unethical, for me.

My conversation on the opening day with Stuart Sharpless, Andy Sturgeon and David Fountain resulted in us all wishing to return as entrants next year rather than as spectators. For this reason I am a little sad. A garden show I liked will not event.

As I said in my last article before you design you must be inspired and the youth in us required for this must be encouraged and an opportunity has passed. One must appreciate garden design in Ireland is like trying to emulate U2, Lizzy and The Boomtown Rats breaking out of Dublin in the early 80’s. It is of course also such a passionate affair and requires a stern love of the game – roll on Bloom 08.

before you design – you must be inspired!

are you inspired?

are you inspired?

Half the interest of a garden is the constant exercise of the imagination.-Mrs C.W. Earle, Pot Pourri from a Surrey Garden, 1897

The introduction of possibly ‘younger’ designs or more designs from a new younger generation to our television screens certainly allows those in that domain to cause slight controversy. I shall rephrase. It allows select sectors of society to be more amenable to gardens that are not middle of the road and not liked by vast, large amounts of the population to be built. (That is, they transcend into something a little more than just ‘nice’ gardens.)

Whilst television has allowed a slight licensing law be permitted to the young ‘uns of the gardening world, it certainly has not, in Ireland, encouraged the full acceptance of a new wave of flair, genius and aura-like elegance to be cultured or developed. They maybe fable-like conceptions in some eyes, but the industry of horticultural products and services is worth €2.33 billion annually. Some of this is surely spent on ‘new age’ landscape design. Although I will not like all that I see I know I can take a little from this and make it something that I do like. I simply feel the garden should reflect a little of the soul. How many of you can truly say that you are happy, sincerely, with the piece of ground that surrounds your house? When was the last time you relaxed, unwound and after leaving a hard days struggle from your place of work (or just tough day!) excused yourself and found some serenity in ‘your’ little world outside.

The house is a symmetrical development or construction where all elements serve a purpose, through an equation. A garden should be the opposite. It is a place from the heart that takes you away from a world so functional and correct. Yours may not be a television documentary (nor does it need to be) but the heart should ‘feel’ your place outside is worthwhile. I would not dare suggest that we need to go foolhardy with ill-conceived visions into our gardens tomorrow and perform inappropriate and nonsensical acts upon our plots. I would suggest that in a lot more than the planning and symmetric tribunals that cover so much of our airwaves and newspapers is there inspiration to be found. Maybe it is time that these slight visionaries where embraced (even just slightly) and that our dream was churned from a mere conversational pastime into something real. Inspiration is everywhere. Sometimes we just need to allow a little more of it into our lives, our homes and moreso our gardens. Can we not forget the newest Bentley or BMW for one season? Can we go back to childhood dreams that, possibly, seem so long ago and let loose in a new world outside? In a full season I may create some of the finest gardens in Ireland – but how many rouse or kindle the imagination? What I may like, personally, you may not, naturally. I do not wish to set a new list of rules for garden design. I would suggest that our gardens could be a little more than they are and sometimes it can come so much easier from the heart and mind. We have moved from the ‘80’s where straight edge beds of allysum, lobelia and grisilina hedging coveted our Saturday afternoon and Sunday used to be a day of rest. We skipped through the ‘90’s where cobblelock driveways and patios rocked our world. Now in the new millennium decking is everywhere to be seen. Although these are not unwise additions to the garden or home, they are somewhat commercially driven and an easy choice when deciding to do a little to the, for so long neglected, garden.

Most people who possess anything like an acre, or half of it, contribute weekly to the support of a gentleman known as Jobbing Gardener. You are warned of the danger that he may prove to be Garden Pest no 1. – C.E. Lucas-Phillips, The New Small Garden

I may be reiterating a point that is not believed by all by suggesting that you consult with a horticulturist, on not all, but at some point of a garden development. For those of you about to embark on a truly amazing journey, if you do not wish to employ the services of somebody qualified in the trade; visit your local garden centre; visit your neighbours gardens; join your local garden groups, seek as much advice as you can.. even read a blog. You only have to choose not to listen to it if you wish. We as a nation are growing. The figure of €431 million spent annually, by the public, on flowers and garden products will obviously grow too. With good advice and some direction you might not have to spend like my some distraught callers tell me – that is, a new plant every week, increasing this figure further, without need. Why? Because the last one usually dies. Before you begin to design you must be inspired. It’s your garden and it should tell your story, from the heart.

Life is what happens when you’re busy making other plans

John Lennon