herbaceous plants

herbaceous adj designating plants that are soft stemmed rather than woody
herbaceous border n a flower bed that contains perennials rather than annuals
[source collins paperback dictionary]


In ordinary lingo, a herbaceous plant is one that although is more like a shrub rather than a bedding plant; it will come up year after year [ie. it is a perennial/ completes its life cycle over several seasons] and it does not need to be replaced as your ‘summer bedding plants would. [if you don’t understand still, thats ok – leave a comment and i’ll go into more detail]

A garden without herbaceous plants is generally quite dull. People tend to have their reasons as to why they should not have them. The main one is that they usually look like a lump of pulp come their off season. That said they do look spectacular when in flower.

The problem in my opinion is that times have changed. On one hand market seems to suggest a lot more ‘low maintenance’ style planting is in order – on the other – people are going back to living ‘the good life’ and the days of plant division and sharing/ swapping with your neighbours may not be so far away again. Thank God!


The reason in my opinion, I even turned off them for a little, is because the ‘ye olde’ days of gardening was and still is considered for those only of stately home type and sized grounds – it is also the audience to whom most of our writers still preach. The ‘I’m-excited-about-this-plant-you’ll-never-be-able-to-pronounce-the-name-of-but-i’m-ecstatic-about-it-so-so-should-you-be’ type. This I still find can generally come across as extremely boring – and generally speaking it is. No offence. But the fact that those who write so botanically speaking eloquently are still employed; the fact that they speak only of a fashion that appeals to a select demograph – is not the fault of the plant. I have four sisters and three brothers and not one of get turned on by the mention of ligustrum ovalifolium aurea variegata [variegated golden privot by the way].So I dont mention it – like that.

I generally compare this to a boring english teacher, in the case of this analagy, poetry. It is not poetry’s fault. It is not the authors fault. I love poetry. But – sometimes the person giving the sermon is more the destructor than the pupil who is not paying attention. It is why I always do not assume that everyone has the same passion or qualifications as I do. But also that they may wish to – even a little. It is also to eliminate any arrogance that may be sounding.

That aside ‘herbaceous considered’ plants are cool. I like to plant them in clusters and also to hide them behind other clusters of evergreen so that when they do die down, something else is hiding the gap. It may require a good planting plan but – no ‘garden’ is complete without them.


looking for a bargain-beque …?

a bargain-b-q

a bargain-b-q

I love this time of year. Ok so I would NOT NEVER go buying Christmas cards in January but I would buy a barbeque. Mainly because I dont have the time to do so during the summer… I bought this last week for about €20. BARGAIN!! It was one of the DIY stores [i can’t remember which; really sorry; as I threw away all of the packaging; into a recycle bin of course].

So I got thinking of when I was younger and we had to save up all of our 10p pocket monies to buy Christmas presents and I reckon euro back to irish pence – [i’m one of eight children] we might just have done it on a weeks money; money aside – it is more thoughtful than socks – am I in trouble with my sisters now? Then I thought about Christmas Day and why oh why do of all of my sisters [and families] go to my Moms for Christmas dinner and the Boys to their outlaws inlaws… ? hmmmm

Back to Gardens. Gardens are all about planning. If I dont plan for next year – I will not have a barbeque. I wanted a built in barbie. I’ve got one. I think I’ll build mine over Christmas while the gunfire is going on and Willie Wonkas Chocolate factory is on full volume…. 🙂 [Give me a while and I’ll work out exactly what quantities you need.]

professional services

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Professional services
we offer only the highest level of professional services available to you at any stage of the development of your landscape, tailored to suit your project and budget. A full landscape design and consulting service is available to both domestic and commercial clients. Whatever the size of your project, Peter Donegan’s team will prove to be an invaluable tool in achieving only the highest standards possible and the best results from your landscape.

From initial drawing stage of your building no matter the cost and final resulting landscape, it is equally as important to know and appreciate the time required [and costs resulting] of maintaining this picture of beauty. Your choice of materials here and overall design layout play a massive role in the early stages of planning of your project. No matter the size of project or budget, the experienced and qualified staff of Peter Donegan’s Office will ensure only the finest results of the highest standards evolve on your behalf.

Concept sketches and design
Further to an initial consultation concept sketches and/or designs would be drawn as and where appropriate. This may involve site surveys or an analysis of the site in conjunction with the client’s requirement of the area. Naturally this will vary depending on whether it be commercial or domestic.

More detailed drawings
Full drawings [or working drawings] for bespoke pieces, construction or unusual concepts may require engineering style plans for construction building teams to work from. Where necessary, The Donegan Design Team will work closely with a clients architect to ensure a merge of the building architects plans meet those of the gardens.

Planting Plans
Where required, The Donegan design team can be responsible for the design of the soft landscaping or a combination of elements of a clients design. The Donegan design team only employs qualified and experienced horticulturists more than capable of design at the highest levels and standards

Overseeing Projects
Whilst The Donegan Team, both landscape design and landscaping do work with a proven awarded track record, some clients prefer to manage their garden build in a manner that suits them specifically. Should this be a Clients choice Peter Donegan design can also offer a project management or overseeing service which will ensure their project achieves the highest standard.

trees versus buildings…

i really liked doing this job. Of course and naturally I’d prefer that the entire planet was landscaped [peter donegan memorial garden style], but with relevance here to the consideration of trees in relation to buildings [and modern day realities], it looks really good.

The building is Prosper Fingals [just around the corner from Fingal County Councils off Swords Main Street]. The reason I like it [possibly unusually one might say] is the use of the trees to soften the building. Rather than the usual option of just simply doing nothing at all.

The four Gleditsia triacanthos ‘sunburst’ [honey locust] were brought in quite mature and look really well planted without staking. In relation to the building, it really just softens.

The planting behind it is lavandula hidcote [lavander] and parthenocissus tricuspidata [virginia creeper]. Again, a very simple yet effective landscape plan.

good gardens, good planning

garden planning and tree planting

garden planning and tree planting

If one is thinking of where to start in a garden… at the top is usually a good place! In good gardens, good planning is everything. One can have anything they want and at anytime, but, when it comes to working with the seasons this is where one gets the most from their budget.

As I have said so many times, its not what you have – it’s what you do with it.

To analagise, one does not decide to buy Christmas presents on Christmas day. With regard to tree planting and garden planning – if this is something you could consider – one should begin that process now. The tree season of better value is almost upon us. Approximately eight weeks away and the greatest gardens are always made with great planning.

As a rule of thumb of when to plant bare roots and root balls its when the trees lose their leaves and go into a wintering state. But first of course we’ve got beautiful autumn to come when all the leaves are brown…