Posts

The Red Dead Tree…

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You may remember some time ago i had a tree that died and that I then decided to paint red.

I called it the red dead tree.

Well… on Thursday it left [pictured left] my home. 🙁

It was admired from afar by good friend Linda who despite dropping hints overa long period of time chose to tell me that she wanted it.

No was not an answer it seemed.

To be honest and as silly as it sounds I miss it. But the reality is it will make Linda smile. It sits in he bed just outside her front door, it can be seen from the front living room and it peeps just higher than the hedge on the boundary of her garden

And that in itself was reason enough for me to do so. 🙂

I told her she could have had the red exhaust pipe bird feeder or the red satellite bird bath… but she wanted that one. 😆

Now all I have to do is invent something to replace it…. Here it is in its new home.

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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.”

101 Amazing Peter Donegan Facts

I had written some time ago a list of ten things you did not know about me. But recently I was reading the weblog of Eolai Gan Fheile and found he had done 101 which I found so much more interesting…. I realised I should do something a little more indepth.

  1. I have 4 sisters and 3 brothers
  2. My Mothers father [my ‘Pop’] was a furrier by trade
  3. When I was 6 years old he told me he blew up Hitler with a grenade
  4. He was a pioneer [never drank] for life
  5. My father has been in the wine trade all of his life
  6. My Mother was only 2lbs in weight when she was born. ‘Thats 2 bags of sugar…’
  7. I wasn’t allowed go to a disco until I was 14.
  8. My first home was in Leixlip.
  9. In one year in school I played on the following teams table tennis, hurling, rugby and athletics.  I also played gaelic football.
  10. I had to write an essay about myself in 6th class. My Mother made me write that I was unique as the closing line. The teacher wrote after this ‘how very very true…’
  11. I had an action man who eyes used to move. His eyes looked dirty so I cleaned them with bleach. This removed the blue and looked quite scary. So I cut off his fingers with a pliers.
  12. He refused to marry my sisters barbie. That caused an argument.
  13. I have not taken a summer holiday since I started horticultural college at the age of 17
  14. I still call my younger sister Jackie ‘snotser’
  15. I used to wear camouflage clothes and crawl around the garden thinking nobody could see me.
  16. The first seeds I ever grew were radish. I was 4
  17. The first bulb I ever grew was a hyacinth. It cost 17 pence. I was 5
  18. The first cuttings I ever took were geraniums. I was 11
  19. I used to own a grifter [bike]
  20. I thought myself how to play guitar when I was 14. I still play
  21. I once busked on Grafton Street and made £1.74 – one pound of that was in sterling
  22. My Dads Dad [my grandfather] was in the special branch
  23. I never met my Dads Mom [my grandmother]
  24. I was born on March 2nd 1976
  25. When I was ‘small’ my favourite snooker player was Terry Griffiths. My brothers was Steve Davis
  26. I used to cut grass for pocket money
  27. I was in the cubs and the scouts.
  28. Me and my brother disassembled a Bastille Day rocket bought for my oldest brother and set it alight on the window ledge. As we closed the window the curtain netting got caught outside and burnt. We fixed it with white thread and tipp ex.
  29. I am God Father to my best friends [John & Siobhán] child
  30. I have two dogs. Whitey – who is black; and sparky who is not very intelligent
  31. I take a size 13 shoe
  32. My first car was a Citroen AX 1.1. It cost £2,000. The insurance cost £2,119. I was 22.
  33. I owned an MGB GT for 8 years. I sold it for €1 this year. It was previously owned by a man called Jack Taylor.
  34. The first house I bought was a one bedroom dormer bungalow in Balbriggan.
  35. Because there are so many children in my family… when we were being called for dinner each name was shortened to one syllable. Peter became Pee. Which is what my close friends call me.
  36. My Dad once told me he’d cut my fingers off. In fairness I did take most of his tools apart…. to see how they worked. I now know he was joking.
  37. When I was 8 my brother Fran told me that the only way to get hairy arms like my Dad was not to wear a jumper and that my body would grow hair to keep me warm. I think it worked.
  38. I once ate an entire Vienetta ice cream cake in one day. My older brother and sister got the blame. The week before I had been given Sunday ice cream in a bowl that previously had ham in it. I don’t like salty ice cream to this day.
  39. My Grandmother had false teeth. I still think she can hear me when I speak about her.
  40. She bought me a key ring that said ‘worlds best gardener’ on it. I was 9.I still have it.
  41. When I was younger I wanted to be a stand up comedian. My teacher in school told me: ‘stand up and everybody laugh at you’.
  42. My favourite team is Arsenal. I once wrote to David O’ Leary. But he never wrote back. I hope he reads this.
  43. The first country abroad I was ever in was France. Carnac to be exact.
  44. My family used to have a caravan in Arklow. We lost the key to it and used to have hoosh my brother through the bedroom window.
  45. I don’t like horror films. I do like funny ones. My favourite are The Marx Brothers.
  46. I used to have long hair. It goes curly when it get long.
  47. Once I went to sleep in the back of a neighbours truck. I have also slept in a hedge. The hedge is warmer. It was a griselinia.
  48. The most dinners I have ever eaten in one day is 8. I was in Clonmel.
  49. The first song I ever thought myself to play on guitar was The Rolling Stones Paint it Black
  50. The first Band I ever saw in concert was The Hothouse Flowers
  51. The first [vinyl] record single I ever bought was George Harrison. The first vinyl album was David Bowie ‘The rise and fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars.
  52. 3 of my sisters are originally red heads. When I don’t shave I get a tiny blotch of approximately 1″ square of red come through my beard
  53. I have never bought myself aftershave
  54. I have never asked a girl to dance.
  55. In my leaving cert mock German exams I got 19% intentionally. I had a German girlfriend at the time
  56. In the April – May of my first year in business it rained for 5 weeks solid. I was living in a rented room. It was the first time I had cried in a long time.
  57. For the craic once, I went into a police station and asked for a big mac and large fries
  58. I went to electric picnic this year only on the Sunday. Apart from the clothes I was wearing I only brought €150, a roll of toilet paper and a roll of sellotape. I slept in a plastic bag.
  59. I used to write Jake on my knuckles in black marker.
  60. The most times I ever watched the blues brothers in one sitting was 12
  61. The last time I was in a fight I was 14.
  62. When I was 6 my Dad gave me his old briefcase to use as a school bag. One morning I put mine in the place where his was. He arrived at my school to exchange shortly after.
  63. I once used a  bin lid as a frisbee and threw it through the kitchen window. My brother was meant to catch it.
  64. I was sent to bed for a week when I was 7 for letting the hand brake off my Moms Citroen 2cv. It rolled out of the drive way and hit the pillar on the far side of the road with me in it.
  65. I was thrown out of piano lessons after 2 years. We didn’t own a piano.
  66. After reading the Random Acts of Kindness book I bought everyone in the café on Westmoreland Street coffee and a cookie anonymously.
  67. I do not wear pyjamas.
  68. I am afraid of flying. But I still do.
  69. I ran the womens mini marathon 2 years ago under the pseudonym of Petra Donegan
  70. I used to have an Italian girlfriend called Petra when I was 15. We broke up after 3 weeks when she returned home.
  71. I still turn the first middle cigarette of every box upside down for good luck. I have only not done this once when I was 14. I got caught with cigarettes by my Mom that day.
  72. I still bang my right elbow after I bang my left by accident. My sister also told me this was for good luck. Now after I bang my right elbow, by accident, I bang my left twice and then my right once more. She told me this one when I was 8.
  73. The most donuts I ever ate in one go was 25.
  74. I want to grow my hair long again.
  75. I prefer red wine to white
  76. My favourite drink is Guinness
  77. I have only owned 3 pairs of black shoes since I was 20
  78. When I moved to Scotland, Aberdeen [Stonehaven]. I decided on a Wednesday. I had nowhere to live. I had never been there before. I moved there on the Friday. I had a job organised but nothing else. I found home on the second day in an apartment over The Queens Hotel.
  79. When I lived in London my address was Clonmel Road, London. It’s near the seven sisters tube station. I had just left Clonmel Co Tipperary.
  80. I don’t mind wearing odd socks.
  81. I once smoked pot pourri to take the smell of cigarettes off my breath.
  82. I think all politicians should be made have a real job as mandatory before they are allowed get elected.
  83. I own a mandolin, 6 guitars, a tin whistle, a harmonica and 3 sets of bongos.
  84. I have never received social welfare as an individual or a grant in any format as a business
  85. I like to close my eyes when it rains softly so it tickles my tongue
  86. I did a business plan when I was 19 for a garden centre with a coffee shop. The bank manager told me if I got rid of the coffee shop part [he thought the idea ridiculous] he’d loan me the money.
  87. I would like to be a member of the band The Riptide Movement
  88. I still speak in Irish. [As Gaeilge]. My name in Irish is Peadar O Donagáin.
  89. I used to have a weekly column in the farmers journal newspaper.
  90. I don’t like beans on my breakfast.
  91. I prefer coffee over tea. I like it when its made from real coffee beans. But I hate watery coffee. I like watery tea.
  92. When  I first moved house [from Leixlip] I wondered the next morning how the beds moved too. I also wondered when we were going back to our real home. My Dad told me this today.
  93. My favourite fruits are grapes and bananas
  94. The Beatles poster now framed in my living room has been in every home I have ever lived in since I was 17.
  95. I only have 3 chairs at my kitchen table. One of them is odd. They used to be my parents. The kitchen table used to be my sisters.
  96. I like art. I like art that I start to day dream at when I look at it. I have only ever bought one painting. I bought this in the Dominican Republic.
  97. I think I’d be a great Dad. I haven’t really spent much time thinking about it though.
  98. I was extra in the film ‘A Tigers Tale’. I have never seen it. I never told anyone. My friends said they saw me in it.
  99. I like to sing in the shower.
  100. I need a new maximum minimum thermometer. I bought my first one when I was 19
  101. My eyes are blue.

If you really read all of that, consider seeing a therapist.

For the record there is no significance in the order, and they do not include the things I regard as the most important.

Gardening Nude – a book review

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This is a really unusual story…. in a sense. I’d had this idea for a book. A garden book….. I still do, anyhow… the book idea aside, it was to be something a little, not Royal Horticultural Society, all pot pourri kind of smoking jacket – esque etc… you get my drift.

Via my good mate Pat Fitzgerald I get an introduction to a lady called Shawna Coronado. Who’s written a book called gardening nude.

I got talking to Shawna. She sent me a copy. Signed. I read it. I wanted to review it but…. I felt, at the time, as I kinda knew Shawna, that it would be unfair [to you] to review someones book who I knew – where normally I buy the books myself and then [openly] review them.

[Mainly because people don’t send me stuff to review. Mainly because not a lot of people in horticulture ‘get’ green blogging. Which surprsises me cosidering their books are sold online…..]

So I gave the book to my Sis-in-law. She reviewed it. Emailed it to me. And then, in short, I wiped my entire computer…. and now I can’t get the book back…. which is a nice compliment, for Shawna.

So I called Shawna and said I do the review anyway. 😉

sidewalk-view-2009-3

one of Shawna's side walks

Being honest…. really honest? When I first read the title…. well, you know yourself 😆

But whilst it may sound childlike to have that as a first image…. it was that childlke hat that I was glad to be wearing when I read the book.

Gardening Nude is a book that I would buy for any person who has never gardened before. Or has. It is gardening – but it is also, or moreso a  journey through someones life, who gardens. Does that make sense…?

It’s a gardeners story. It’s not all botanical names and bullshit you need a thesaurus to get through… it’s real life. I found it heart warming that a little strip of land [what we may all a verge] was landscaped for passers by to take time out, to sit down [bench included] and relax [this is just one of many pictures]. I found it more heart warming when this turned into a community garden… the list literally goes on as far as Shawna is concerned.

The difference here though is, like my neighbour asking me, [is in my opinion] is the hanging basket she just made up ok… ? The answer is, did it make her smile creating what for her, isn’t something that is done everyday[?]…. always a yes! It’s not Chelsea Flower Show all the time; and in that context – it’s perfect 🙂 To analagise that back to this book. I cannot be critical. In any way. Horticulturally. And with that in mind, I loved every second of it.

It was a mild escape from the often botanical [nonsense] system I live and love…. but sometimes helping your neighbour make something pretty for the front of their house is much more fun 😉

I emailed Shawna and asked her for a little insight into the why’s, who’s and why again. Here’s what I got….

1.] is this your first book. will it be your last

Never my last! GN was a great experience and I adore writing; I produce nearly 4,000 words per week for the several blogs and newspaper columns I write, so I look forward to many, many more years of writing and certainly many more books.

2.] its not gardening…. but it is gardening…. explain yourself! [smiles]

One day several years ago I walked out behind my property line and built a small garden for the public on a city easement area next to a public walking path. I was rewarded with the most unimaginable love from my community; people stop to say hello, give me hugs, and leave me gifts. All because of this little garden. Soon I expanded the garden because of all this love and encouragement onto my neighbor’s easement property, and within two years, the garden became over 200 feet long and my link to the heart of the community. After I built the site, it became apparent that I was touching the community on an emotional level. I was stripping away the excuses and pretty much putting myself out there in a way that was personal – saying I was “nude” is purely metaphorical, but it’s a great way to express the openness I experienced.

The book, “Gardening Nude” is not about gardening (or being nude) so much as it’s about the journey of getting healthier physically and emotionally. It is about being involved with the community and making a difference for the world in a big way. When I stepped outside that fence and built that garden – after already building hundreds of feet of garden INSIDE the fence – I suddenly realized that my improved health was not just from being outdoors and gardening. It happened because I was able to reach out and lovingly share time with the community. For me it represented a miracle cure and upon realizing the importance of helping others; a huge life change.

3] would you consider yourself famous now….?

No. Although it has been one rather interesting experience to be published and have “fans” sending emails and asking questions. It is an adventure.

4] what do most say they get from your book…?

Most people say they are inspired. It makes them feel as if they are not the only one’s struggling with defining better health and trying to live simpler and greener. In the end, I want people to feel as if they can make a difference themselves – every day, one step at a time.

5] what did you think people would get from it, at first… ?

When you first see and leaf through the book, it is a guide to living healthier and greener, and building community. Easy steps are listed. But once you read the book from cover to cover, you see it is a motivating and inspiring guide which speaks to the human need to be help each other get through life.

6] what where your thoughts when you first sat down with the pen/ typewriter/ computer?

I’d already been writing a newspaper column for several years when I first sat down to write GN. I thought I was an experienced writer and that creating an inspirational book would be easy – a snap. My first idiotic thoughts, “This is gonna be easy!”

Within two weeks I was bashing my head against the computer keys realizing my stupidity. To be a good author on green lifestyle living, the author needs to be more than experienced at living the lifestyle, the book also needs to be well-researched and documented. This research took nearly three months of hard work, followed by seven months of straight blood-sweat-and-tears writing, and of course, several additional months of editing and styling.

7] are you of irish decent ?

I am of Irish/German decent and have the blue eyes and freckles to prove that fact. J I have dreamed for many years of coming to visit Ireland. This summer I toured the U.S. keynote speaking –  I love it as much as writing – and am hoping to expand and travel internationally over the next several years. Maybe I’ll get lucky and have someone bring me in for a keynote tour? Celtic music is beautiful to me and my current favorite Celtic song by a traditional group is The Chieftain’s version of “North Amerikay”. Love it!

8] do you drink guinness…?

Sadly I am allergic to beer. No kidding. However, I do like whiskey. ::grin::

9] sum your own book up in less than 4 words…?

Gardening Nude is inspirational!

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Ever Wondered What It Takes To Grow A Plant…?

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October Bank Holiday Weekend, I went to Kilkenny. I had so much to do….

On my agenda was to meet my good friend & plant inventor Pat Fitzgerald.

I had interviewed Pat for the blog before. I had also worked with Pat on so many of my projects and gardens… but I’d never seen his nursery. The place, his place to be more exact, the place where the plants I have designed into projects, designs and gardens are born, reared and looked after. This is where I started to get excited….

Excited ? About plants…? On a bank holiday weekend…? Have I nothing else better to be doing…? I wouldn’t swap what I love doing so much for anything else in the world 😆

Pat, in my opinion 😉 is a little bit special in the Irish context of horticulture in that 85-90% of his plants are exported to places like Japan & The USA.. thats a total of almost 3.5 million plants as a by the way…. not bad?!!


*disclaimer: I’ve never received money from Pat for anything I have ever done. I simply think he’s got a different and an interesting story. More than that… he’s one of lifes good guys. More importantly, he’s got a sense of humour and enjoys a pint on a Friday night. shame I have to put a disclaimer in at all being honest….

Heres’s the first video I did with Pat… nice story 😉

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