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ranting and raving… ?

(c) diarmuid gavin designs magazine

(c) dgd magazine

I wrote an article some time ago for Diarmuids magazine. It went in under the rant and rave section and was titled knowledge versus experience’. Of course if you want to see what the rave was about I suppose you’ll have to buy the magazine [april/ may 2008 issue] from the good guys at harmonia.ie

It opened with, ‘In a new series ‘rant and rave’, two professionals present two sides of an arguement. Horticulturist Peter Donegan wonders – or rants – why so many people walk straight out of college into the ‘self-promoted title of garden designer’.’

GRADUATE:  N 1 A PERSON WHO HOLDS A UNIVERSITY OR COLLEGE DEGREE. DESIGN: VB 1 TO WORK OUT THE STRUCTURE OR FORM OF (SOMETHING).  BY MAKING A SKETCH OR PLANS. 2 TO PLAN AND MAKE (SOMETHING) ARTISTICALLY.

HORTICULTURE: N THE ART OR SCIENCE OF CULTIVATING GARDENS

COLLINS DICTIONARV FOURTH EDITION

And there holds the problem. If one reads this definition, after qualifying it may be perceived or even believed that one has the ability to walk straight into any garden and begin designing. That is true, theoretically.  But is it true in reality?

Horticulture — the art cultivating garden — and its use as a design platform is something far more than an art form. It ultimately requires a necessary experience. From this a person can decide if he or she likes a style, or believes there is a better alternative or preference more genuine to their taste and in order to be true to their artistic individuality.

This experience and love as an artist however requires much more. It necessitates a biblical knowledge of horticulture and botany in so many more forms and these hierarchal stripes cannot be earned in any college. One must dirty their hands, experience nature and almost understand plant life by touch, feel and sense intuitively.

Akin to the factors required for the growth of any plant, if one is missing, living becomes defunct and for a designer it is similar. Because unless the essential landscape experiences have been courted, made love to and then married — that is if the designed landscape fails to become a reality — then it is nothing short of paper with etchings upon it to possibly be admired.

As a business venture or whether working in the business, it is here that the pitfalls are made because business and associated time costs money. If a ‘designer’ cannot exactly calculate the time, timing schedules and the process of events unequivocally that must occur, or understand a client’s circumstances, including lifestyle and budget; in most cases, then, there is definite potential that the design maybe relegated to the nonchalant paper upon which rests one’s coffee cup.

It is wise to appreciate that your reputation starts again and again, every day of your business life. So why do so many walk straight front the doors of a college into the self-promoted title of garden designer? Is it an impossibility based upon inexperience and possibly an ill conceited dream that gardening is great? The trouble is, maybe, that some forget or don’t admit to where they should start. That is if one wishes to work with the ground, one should start at that level and work up. It is not all theory. It is nature, a subject that comes with a constant learning, and to understand that requires more than a fine education.

‘It is natural that the newcomer, perhaps accustomed to the fixed routine of other pursuits, may expect rules which, if followed, will give certain definite results, but these I cannot give, for climate, soil, aspect, shelter, and many other connected factors vary widely, so that an exact formula would be useless.’
from The Flower Garden by E.R. Jane, 1952

For more information on Peter Donegan’s work go to www.doneganlandscaping.com

[courtesy diarmuid gavin designs magazine]

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frogs in the garden

frogs peter donegan landscape garden domesticit seems similar to squirrels the frog is having a hard time of it too. Why? ‘pristine’ gardening trends seems the answer.

The IPCC [the irish peatland conservation coucil] has a really good which has excellent tips on how to do your bit. It also has a really cool facts page. For eg; Did you know – in recent years a painkiller 200 times the power of morphine was found in frogs skin!

My reason for mentioning this creature? It’s great when my nieces & nephews pop around to say I saw some and for the gardener – these guys eat just about every bug & insect pest available.

I spotted this chappie having a nap in some long grass last week – simply brilliant watching nature!


Urban Garden brightens up Smithfield

The previous article may explain why I got involved in urban garden [click here for previous article] … but I think you’ll find Mary Wier of [and] Dublin City Council organised a day that held in store a lot more than just a good looking horticulturist […that’d be me by the way]. The day really did make a difference.

We do need to make an effort to green up ‘our’ spaces.

I hope you enjoyed it and more importantly I hope ‘you’ took something home with you from the day [apart from a big smile] that will help you green up ‘your’ space.

Hedgerow Walks anyone?

peter donegan - hedgegrow walksThis is brilliant. The gas thing is when people say to me will that grow here – I usually suggest to take a look around you first. The only way to appreciate what is growing on your doorstep.

Slí = way, road, path & Sceach = thornbush, hawthorn, briar

Slí na sceacha = hedgerow walk/ way

The hedge.org is a voluntary group doing their bit. Their website has more links to relevant sites than you could shake a stick at [!] and brimmed with useful information. It also seems the local heritage councils have spent a few quid here too on grants to the various societies; and rightly so, they are so important.

That said, whilst it is maybe indirectly taxpayers money, it is theoretically free and beautiful! Put on those funky trainers, get outside with those old woolie warmers on you and watch nature changing around you. I love it!

Allium Rosenbachianum

allium rosenbachianum - peter donegan file

This allium, also a member of the alliaceae/ lilliaceae family, the same as kitchen garlic [allium sativum] is probably my favourite bulb.

My favourite variety is this and of course Allium globemaster – mainly because of its yellow centre spot on a mre purple flower; akin to that of the solanum crispum glasnevin.

These guys do cost a little more han your average daffodil but well worth it and amazing as a cut flower on its own.

The stems of these guys can grow up to about 24″ tall upon which a 4″ diameter head sits on top.

I still look at it to this day and wonder ‘how on earth can your sister be stinking garlic… ?!!’. How inspiational life can be from such a breathtaking little piece of natures finest beauty. A fine specimen and well deserved of entry in my favourite plants list.