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building a garden in south africa [3]

Everything is going really well in Cape Town. For the people of this township and the 1500 volunteers involved, it is an emotional event and one I am so proud to be part of. My previous articles on this blog will give a little more insight.

We arrived late on Friday due to Monarch airlines most contrary organisation knowing little of what reaity was about to hit us. But it was a visit to a shack owned by a lady due to move into one of the new homes that instilled inspration with full reasoning into the hearts of every volunteer. I know I cried. I know I wasn’t alone. It wasn’t bad, more a positive tear that made me fully understand why Niall Mellon does what he does and why. I also now know why this is the largest people movement, for charitable reasons, since world war 2 to help another country and around 1400 are Irish. Proud is an understatement.

Honestly, if I could get those of us Irish besotted by interest rates and celtic tiger property prices to visit here [?!??] one might just realise how precious life is and how miniscule our troubles really are. To have left families, businesses, money aside and country to help another who needs it so much more is angelic but to build 200 homes each painted, with a solar panel and a community garden surprisingly in just seven days is truly miraculous.

If you saw what I have seen, you would understand why I and the other 1499 people get applauded and welcomed everyday we go to work. Tear-jerker, you better believe it! I’m beginning to think I have a feminine side…. We also are cheered and thanked on our way home. Amazing. Any slight upsets since I got here [click here]? No. I love every second and I thank whatever religion one may pray to that Dominc Loughran made me realise that my horticulture could make tears come to many a grown mans eyes.

building a garden in south africa [part 2]

south africa...

south africa...

 Most of you know my trip to South Africa is taking place this Thursday. Since my last post Dominic Loughran came as my guest to the ALCI awards and gave a fine, appropriate and very rousing speech. I was very proud to sit with him.

I also roped in genius my good pal freelance photographer Maura Hickey [applause!] to travel with me. Maura, like so many of us, has sponsored herself and given up her very valuable time to document & work as part of the garden build. I also gave Maura three weeks notice!?

Most of you know the company sponsored me so if you are donating or sponsoring me the money will go straight to the trust & will be most appreciated. To those of you who work with me, on any level, without you Peter Donegan Landscaping would not have been able to sponsor me, a representative of the company to go. You have already helped so much and again I applaud you. You should be very proud. As best as possible I’ll keep everyone up to date here.

Judges Comments On The Garden Maintenance Award

herbaceous borders

I received the Judges comments on the recent award winning garden today.

They said for exemplary standard of landscaping the judges’ commented on the Private Garden Landscaping [award of merit] & the Private Garden Maintenance [overall winning garden]

the work illustrates a consisted commitment to horticultural excellence in a restoration project that requires a keen understanding of the client’s requirements. The herbaceous beds in particular deserve special acclamation for their restrained but inventive interplay between colour and foliage texture.

Commenting further on Brackenstown House Estate the judges’ noted the award goes to this project because the judges…

…believe it demonstrates a discernible excellence in maintenance.

donegan gardens

website now fully accessible

can you see now?

can you see now?

Our new website is now fully accessible. To be honest, before meeting the gentlemen from Segala, I didn’t really know what accessibility was all about and why I should build a new website. It wasn’t until Adrian turned off the screen and told me to read my own web that I understood the point he was making. I felt I like I had been unfair to some of my fellow Irish [and International] populus.

Citizens Information notes on their site under the title Access To Information For All that ‘According to the National Disability Authority (NDA) online information may be inaccessible to older people and those who are blind, have low vision, are colour blind or have poor English language skills or literacy difficulties, dyslexia, a learning disability or a hearing impairment. It is important to ensure that alternatives to, and means of accessing electronic information are provided to facilitate these groups.’

This criteria has been met.

Funnily enough, this all started some time ago when we were awarded the honour of joining Barr 50, the top 50 companies to operate through use of the irish language [Credit to Forais na Gaeilge here]. I guess I wanted to take this ‘accessibility’ to a new level and now we’re all blogged up!

Bilingual, accessible and interactive!

never had your garden ‘designed’ before

Here’s a piece I wrote some time ago. Recently we have had a wave enquiries where people feel that not paying for a design is saving money. That’s perfectly fine but as long as you take the correct free advice and from the correct people.

We have designed anything from 17th century five acre gardens to the most modern and futuristic of advanced and out of place designs – and built them. We have also on the other hand designed and built gardens that dont cost the earth but do look really good.

The second piece of advice is to take the correct advice. So should one pay for a consultation charge? The answer is of course if you feel you should and naturally if you will get something valuable and worthwhile for your cudos. If you do decide to get a garden designed and/ or built for either sixty five euro or sixty five thousand euro remember the numbers at the bottom of the page of the invoice is what it actually costs and you gotta pay that amount [I’ll get back to that later]. In the meantime – enjoy the article.

peter

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

On the cheap: Measure up the garden. You don’t need a measuring tape or trunnel wheel. One large pace equals one metre approximately and one of your feet is one foot (you’ll have a rough idea). Drop down to the local garden centre and with sketch in hand ask all the questions you can. Its better to go on a Monday when it’s quiet. Always give an idea of the theme you want in the garden, don’t tell them I want this and one of them etc.(if you say water feature and it may not ever have looked good in your back yard – the friendly people who were going to give you advice are now on commission and your stuck with a gift for your sister.) Remember you don’t have to purchase on that day. Call the offices of a professional landscapers/ designers association. They’ll put you in touch with somebody in your area. Generally you can get advice (free) over the phone. They don’t have to call out.

  • Pay a little: Call a landscape contractor of reputation. They may charge for call outs/ consultation charges, but this is a very wise investment (even if the Father-in-law and Jimmy’s brother/ cousin/ sister are all expert green fingers). Decide on the basics with your family first. Do you need?
  • A shed – what size and type? Brick or timber?
  • A washing/ clothes line – Rotary/ retractable/ or one for the local football team?
  • A barbeque – built in or moveable? Gas or coal? Consider the neighbours and the clothes line!
  • Kiddies play area – Swings, slides and pits? sand or bark mulch? Moveable or resident? In my opinion it is better to put these ‘built in’ in one area – this can be adapted/ changed to suit your investment/ garden at a later date. ie. when the little ones mature.
  • Lights – how many? Security and/ or decorative? Sunken or above ground level? Remember low budget/ plastic looks better below ground and you’ll still see the light.
  • Outdoor electricity points/ plugs – where? Always get a double and get the two done together.
  • Outdoor tap/ water source – where? Both of the above mean the contractors don’t need to traffic over your new flooring and you don’t have to be there shedding tears at the state of the place halfway through the job.
  • Table and chairs area – Just for two or the entire Partridge family? Decide on whether it goes to full sun or shade. Please, pick/ measure the dining set you want first and allow 1.5 metres off the back of each chair. This means you only get the size of patio required and the stonemason doesn’t retire on your entire garden budget. (It also stops Nanna falling into the new rose bush when she pushes her chair away to get up from the table.)
  • Raised timber structure/ Patio – take the advice of your consultant and ensure it fits into your overall theme.
  • Green waste area – they can be ‘off in scent’ but they are in todays genre a must.

Ask for a rough ‘outline overview sketch’ of what the garden will look like – on headed paper – this will save you the cost of a full design service. Assuming it’s not a requirement of planning, this should, with a little vision and trust on your part, suffice. Again give a general themed idea of what you would like.

Pay a little/ lot more:Call a registered landscape designer. They usually charge for call outs/ consultations. They will charge for their design and also a percentage fee to oversee their design. This will be a very detailed design with a planting plan you may not understand ever and may come complete with a visual impression of what you can expect to see. Your garden designer will ensure you don’t need to do any of the above. Ensure your requirements are met so as not to result with your designers very own memorial playground. Let them know how much time and what gardening tasks you are willing to spend/ do in the garden (be honest and realistic!). Find out what contractor will carry out the necessary works and as important if they will do the after care/ maintenance. Get an estimate of cost on the landscaping of this wonderful design before you pay for the actual drawings. This ensures you don’t end up with a very expensive piece of paper that will never become a creation.

Remember:

  • Know your budget limit but be realistic.
  • Agree all prices before your contract starts.
  • Stonework requires dry weather and plants/ lawns need water.
  • Don’t pay for contractors tools to sit in their shed on ‘down time’ and don’t end up paying a contractor to water you plants
  • You don’t have to do it all at once.
  • Gardens can be phased in over a period of time. It may take a little longer but you will get that dream.
  • Don’t be afraid to do something different
  • Quality products cost more and cheap can be often tearful rather than cheerful.

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