Garden Fencing: Barrel Board

garden fence, dublin

As fencing goes, there are many styles and types that I have been party to. But, in the front of house home extremely eloquent department, there are few if any that come close to how beautiful a finish this wood is. In short, if barrel board were a lady, I would happy recite it the most lovely paragraphs of Shakespeare’s finest.

Of note, if you are looking for the cheapest quote or in short a screen made of wood; then it’s probably best you head on over to one of the many DIY Super Store emporiums. No offence…. see what I did there ?  Fence. No. No ? To explain, sometimes a Ferrari is the right call and sometimes the Transit van will do just dandy. Here, we chose the  MG BGT. 1977 version. With the chrome bumpers and 4 speed overdrive. ie. the very smart and damn tasty option.

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Patio Paving: Grey Limestone

grey limestone, paving steps

There’s a point in good, tasty well thought out gardens where not everything can be shiny. It can, of course. But it shouldn’t be, really. In context, imagine if you will an entire garden space coloured in yellow, or gold; I mean the entire garden, wall to wall. And what you should picture is a pretty pointless area when you close your eyes and really think about it. Not pointless. More monotonous; or mono-tone, if you will.

In this case or in that contrasting department, the natural grey limestone paving is an absolute cracker. Because a little like the use of red in garden design in order to highlight something [ref here: alongside green in Japanese styled gardens], one needs a contrast in colour; An extreme case of which may include the use of yellow on black.

grey limestone paving

I love the fact that just like it’s sister, the black limestone, the grey has that naturally furled ruffle to its surface and that there is a touch of esque like the stone masons of old where I’m almost choice lifting one piece out and replacing it with another, solely because the finish of one is kind of similar to a neighbouring slab.

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Fruit Hedge. Front Garden, Dublin

fruit hedge, dublin

Fruit bushes planted are nothing new. But like a very young Elvis realising his hips moved in two directions, sometimes it’s not that you can, but how. Or like that t-shirt of mine says: It’s not the winning that counts but the arsing around. In short what I’m getting at is, what rule book is to say one can’t have a hedge, upon which there grows fruit ?

Bush n 1 a dense woody plant, smaller than a tree, with many branches; shrub 2 a dense cluster of such shrubs; thicket

Hedge n 1 a row of shrubs or bushes forming a boundary.

source: Collins Dictionary Paperback fourth edition 1999

Maybe you’ll counter that with why did I ask that question ? To answer, this was planted just last week and scratching my head, I think I’ve only ever done two fruit hedges in a suburban type Dublin garden ever before. I don’t particularly know why. That said, what a beauty of a walk out ones front gate that will be, picking ambidextrously, chomping and stuffing as many red currants, black currants or gooseberries [red] as you can fit in your satchel. The way I see it, fruit bushes are in reality normal plants, just no one told them we only really really like them when they give us nice things.

Don’t crop ’em or do… to me its a bit the smarter fellows option to low maintenance time saver grow your own, without all of the getting dirty and double digging. And that has to be a good thing, right ?

In my own garden I did something similar with around 34 fruiting trees. Planted in a cul de sac to make a wee micro garden for Ella. Within that group I have 5 cherry trees that I have never picked from though they are always eaten by my neighbouring personal full-time buskers, the birds. I like to think of that as a fair barter ; and a little of the some for you some for me style of thinking. And though some garden folk may disagree with what may also be known as pests (the birds, not Ella) I’m more than happy watching her smile as Nanny’s bird comes to make sure she is eating all of her dinner.

Back to the hedge, maybe the ye olde types of pre ‘low maintenance only garden requests’ were hit badly by the gardeners fashion police. Sometimes thats no harm; Most of the 1980’s reminds me of Privot, grisilinia and a tang top wearing Sir Cliff – An entire era of bland, beige and right angles trying to appear rounded where the most exciting thing was variagation.

To me, the the merging of a non laborious grow your own with the a new funk ye olde to create a fruit hedge is lot like a glitter covered Marc Bolan relieving Sir Cliff Richard of his duties, whilst he is halfway through a chorus of we’re all going on a Summer Holiday and busting straight into the intro for 20th Century Boy. And you think to yourself, I kinda like how this new wheel works ~ even though the strategy behind it is nothing new at all. I mean pre Marc and T-Rex there was of course Jimi and The Experience ;

fruit hedge, front garden dublin

Of note:

  • this Dublin front garden is north facing. In reality, that very simply means a lesser amount of light, not no light. The fruit will grow, just not as well as it may do in the South of France.
  • the primary function of this hedge, is to be a hedge. The Brucey Bonus or bi product is that it will give you nice things to eat. And so long as we know that’s the deal, the gardeners book of how to care for a fruit bush rules do not really apply here.
  • there are over 30 plants in this hedge planted at a rate of 3 per metre squared. The 1% loss in light equals 1% loss in production equation in mind, there’ll be more than enough for everybody
  • joined in with ‘normal landscaping at the top, it looks pretty darned fine if I do sy so myself and makes a fantabulous addition to what one would most usually and very simply walk past, if it were a normal hedge.

Q’s or thoughts [?] leave a comment below or drop me a line.

Peter Donegan:

donegan landscaping

Landscaping, Dublin: The First New Lawn of 2013

roll out lawn

In the rolled lawn department, there is something almost television programme-like that I love about a client going out in the morning and returning home that evening to this, above.

Why I love doing it so much, maybe is down to the fact that domestically it can be laid within a day or so. That and it just looks so damn good, like you could nearly eat it. More than that, is that tv moment when they, the client, pop their head around the corner and you get that smile;

It’s a little-esque like when wee 3 year old Ella eats all her dinner and Dad gives her that you done good nod. And she knows… if ye get me. On a serious note, it is [and I’ve said it before here] a wonderful feeling to create something for somebody else for my job and to see them happy-er because of it. Reason numero uno why I love what I do. Even when it is not sunny. 😉

*note: the sound in the video is a bit rubbish due to the Irish winds. I might suggest you scroll to 40 seconds and play it from there to get the reverse view. 

Back to it, I ran through 3 steak knives doing this lawn and unless someone invents a better alternate the Donegan clan may soon end up using that set of chop sticks I found years ago when I used to garden and live in Abderdeen [Scotland]. I don’t know why I kept them.

What was attention to detail about laying this one was that as you look at the image above all of the turves run left to right. All of them. And in linear metre terms, that is a lot of patience to be perfect cutting both sides of a rough finish edged cobble. In context, should it have been your usual domestic back garden measuring 8 x 10 approximate metres and a proper rectangle, it would have been complete within half the allocated timing.

The garden above, beforehand as a by the way used to look like so…

garden makeover, soil works

Of interest maybe is that I allowed the soil below the rolled lawn raise ever so slightly falling either side. It should aid slightly when it comes to moss and potential sodden lawns that have resulted from excess rainfall levels of recent.

*of note: this garden was done about 3 weeks ago, but I literally have not had the time indoors to sit down and post it here.
also of note: me and this garden have history

Any Q’s or thoughts [?] leave a comment below or drop me a line.

Peter Donegan:

donegan gardens, dublin

Dublin Garden: Raised Beds, Low Maintenance

donegan landscaping dublin

Historically, almost every ornamental raised bed I ever made was from stone. No apparent reason, it’s just what was done, what was the trend and what clients requested… like Lonicera nitida hedges maybe, in pre 1980’s Ireland. In that context this Dublin domestic back garden is a little bit different. A little; yet still there’s something in this space outdoors that is a little old school funky, like a really great vinyl record collection.

garden design sketches

I don’t know whether its the fact that the timber will age ever so as the plants mature or the fact that the planting choice, to the eloquent plants person could maybe be considered mildly eclectic. Maybe it’s the whitewash walls, or the pebble, or that fact that [by definition] there are two hedges in this garden, both serving two different functions.

Of note, the plants in particular within this space, fresh from the nurseries, will need a little time to come into their own, to harmonise, acclimatise and turn towards the preferred source of light.

low maintenance, gardens

The garden layout and build aside, I like the raised beds in wood. I love that I made them to measure and that client in mind, we did build in that wee seat just below the Dicksonia antartica. More than that, they will make the gardening work easy-er, after I am gone.

In the plant selection department I know I was really smart when it came to this as the growth rates per annum are quite low. Aesthically to counteract that, were possible they were brought in a little more mature; it was important that they looked like they had been there for some time and there is nothing worse than waiting five or so years for a garden to come entirely into its own. A bit like taking too long to paint your home and only giving it one coat of paint, if you get me.

garden design sketch

Tied in with a semi-permeable membrane used within the raised beds and a decorative pebble, this gives the client a low-er by far maintenance garden. And when you look at it, really outside of the grass; there isn’t really much by way of annual maintenance costs or time at all.

To the rear of the [rear] garden I love that the front hedge is Laurus nobilis and though it will take a little for the dots to join, there will be nothing nicer when it does than sitting behind it on the south facing raised patio area, within what already feels like a separate room within the great outdoors.

Far more than that, this is a garden that I’m really going to look forward to returning to. There is something truly wonderful about being able to see a photosynthetic picture of the future, in my imagination (?), for it exists nowhere else. Far, far better that picture coming to fruition and others smiling because of what was created for them.

garden patio

Peter Donegan:

peter donegan landscaping, contact