Posts

Bloom In the Park. A Show Garden Return ?

donegan gardens

Talking today with Gary Graham for The SodShow, the garden radio show, conversation naturally led to show gardens and the question as to the ‘would I make a return to show gardening’ ? Gary is, in short for those who are not aware, the brains behind Bloom in the Park. Ireland’s premier garden show.

Personally, I’ve a lot of time for Gary. I’ve a lot of time for Bloom. Like it or not, Bloom is good for Ireland; it’s also great for Irish gardening and in that context alone, Bord Bia have done a real sterling job. One which deserves ovation standing, as versus applause.

We nattered back and forth and chatted ourselves into the easily led to conclusion that I missed, sincerely, the controlled pressure that came with the creation of show gardens.

mary mcaleese

For those who aren’t aware, I’ve done two Bloom show gardens:

After 2008, I took a pause. I was busy. I needed to be. I had showy gardens to create, but they simply weren’t gardens that were awarded medals at the end of it, though they did come with good PR.

The reality is show gardeners, to qualify a show garden submission need three strings to their bow. A proven ability to build show gardens, a great design and last, but by no means least, a sponsor. For two years running, I was missing the latter.

donegan gardens, bloom

Would I make a return to Bloom for 2013 ?

Yes, I would. Were this post going live now has relevance is that the work would be much easier less complex if it were to start within the next six weeks. So soon you might believe, but design submission begins around September/ October and whilst I have already the concepts, I like my designs QED ~ ie. without question, on time, fitting its budget [yours or/ and mine], show timing complete before schedule and with all of the ingredients in place ~ pre planned.

Don’t get me wrong, I can create a fine garden within a very short space of time, designs, submitted and accepted. No problem. But if show garden is to be about the, as Gary put it, the showmanship, then a little more homework/ light reading is far better.

As a by the way, The SodShow, A Bloom in The Park 2012 special, an interview with Gary Graham will air this Friday at 3pm and will be available a little later in the evening as podcast.

If I’m to do it and do it rightly and though I’ve always been blessed in that department I’m proud to admit, I’ll need the right people by my side. For now, I guess, I’ve a little thinking to do and for this bank holiday weekend I’ll happily settle for making daisy chains with my daughter, most probably in The Phoenix Park.

Thoughts on the matter/ Fancy a cuppa ? 😉

donegan gardens

An Irish Social Media Garden Centre Campaign…?

...

I got a press release in last week for Irish Garden Centre group Connacht Gold.

Connacht are using /starting to use the social media tools of Facebook and Twitter.

Smart move….? Nothing new there, you may say….? Well it a first for the horticultural sector in Ireland, that I am aware of.

Is this the start of the green sectors online evolution Revolution? The ersten exemplary case to base growth upon…?

Many times regarding the green sector and online media I have mentioned the need for change. The tools maybe are being used, but it’s still done so very badly and that is if it’s done at all. Most I know of won’t blog because it doesn’t make you money etc…

What the Connacht Gold Garden Centre Group are doing online maybe isn’t my choice of style nor how I would do it – ONLINE – but then I’m not 6 garden centres…. 5 of which don’t open on a Sunday 😉

But, they are doing something to embrace….

The promotion is running for 8 weeks in Connacht Gold stores nationwide and each Saturday a “fugitive” will visit a different store. Hints, tips and suggestions will be given out on Facebook and Twitter to give fans clues of where the fugitive is going to be. The first person to decipher the clues and find the fugitive in the stores each Saturday will win €300 cash.

You can find out more information on the promo itself on http://www.twitter.com/connachtgold and http://www.facebook.com/connachtgold. The competition will be heavily promoted via Twitter and Facebook and a blog has been set up on http://www.garden-centres.ie to post information about the stores etc.

Have they got the mix right ? Would you do anything different ? Maybe, that’s exactly what’s required to stir it up around Tubbercurry… ?

In case you are wondering…. here’s what the fugitive looks like

he's the one on the left...

Reblog this post [with Zemanta]

Irish Gardening Online…?

...

I remember reading an article posted online by good friend and nursery man Pat Fitzgerald. It was about trying to promote the gardening industry. Here’s a little taster of what Pat had to say….

…we collect last years good condition gardening magazines and make some beneficial use of them instead of hoarding them. Why not distribute these magazines into as many hair dressers, doctors, chiropodists, dentists, nail bars, beauty salon waiting rooms as will be agreeable to accept them…

Before I go any further, Pat does say himself that it is…

a possibly nutty, naive or optimistic idea

I was talking about this over the weekend with some friends of mine who work in the media industry. It wasn’t that we were laughing or being disrespectful in any way to Pat or the idea… far from it. In fact the point that seemed to be made was more is this as good as it gets for an industry that I have another 30 years odd to work in. I shall rephrase…. Is this what the amenity horticultural sector is resigned to in order to promote itself…. I know for sure the farming industry would never be seen even suggesting this nor the building federation…. isn’t that right Tom Parlon ?

I am fully aware that there exists ‘industry bodies’ but whether they will ever chose to form an opinion and be perceived as industry leaders is possibly a land very far away from here. I guess in that, what I am trying to say it that my next door neighbour could not name me one garden related association…. I think that’s a fair point.

...

To there I suppose one could turn to government bodies…. but the green party aren’t really a green party anymore and being that I have never received even two bits of encouragement by way of payment acknowledgement for my role in online green sector….. I am beginning to wonder who’s the promoter of who and what on earth I am doing this for. But, like I said before it’s not like I get paid to write this Irish Green Blog. But then again, it was never about the money.

...?

I hear friends of mine calling their children the facebook generation…. I saw myself last week reading a blog post on generating electricity I also found myself reading some gardening articles on different things to try out in the garden. There are literally blogs to cover every subject available…. but very few in Ireland on green related matters. There are people who have set up websites that sell gardening related products. A quick google search will show just how many…. But that said I still prefer the peronal touch. I also know that every gardener in the country can supply me with plants and drop out just to make sure they’re doing alright after the transaction. I also like to know a person before I buy anything… but again thats just me.

promoting....

But with very few Irish television programmes dedicated to gardening [if at all any] on the production line and what seems like also a few less publications [particularly magazines] dedicated to the horticultural industry I guess I am beginning to wonder if the follow on effect will be that of a demise or at least a fall in interest in the great outdoors. Being honest, not even I can get a gig writing about gardens weekly… or monthly for that matter.

On the flip side… it is very easy to point fingers. And this is not about figuring out who to blame. It is the realisation that something should be done. Needs to be done. Has to be done. And now.

When I look at the online side of things I see very few Irish gardeners with an online presence. I see very few weblogs. I see very little of a presence on even something so huge such as twitter. Recently I found it impossible to come up with 20 Irish green people using the tool [properly or at all]. It’s not like I keep it a secret. I have posted and explained on every online tool I use and I even publish my statistics.

the stone age...

Considering it is the year 2010…. one would think with the upcoming Irish Blog Awards that it would be possible to have a green/ eco/ gardening category….? I think I may know of four weblogs that could enter… but nothing more. Put in that context what can I say.

I’d like to think that the various efforts such as the garden guest sessions and of more recent times the garden group would/ could and did stir the interest a little. It seems to…. surprising?

The reality is I will continue to do my instructional gardening videos and posts. I’ll continue to do so of my own time and money. I’d like to think Irish garden related companies gave me some support… To put that in context…. Recently I could not get a company to send me some products for review – although they did samples…. just not for review??? I explained I would buy it in the shop and review it anyway [ 🙄 or do I use this one 😆 ]. which is what I have done to date. Maybe some feel I may actually be honest or that its better not to have it mentioned, photographed and video’d…? And for the record I have never received any products for free for this blog. Not even a book. Not a complaint. Just so you know.

The question that remains is…. should the Irish Horticultural Industry invest all of the resources available to it and go place those magazines in the doctors surgery?

where do we go from here....?

Reblog this post [with Zemanta]

bernice burnside…. pr garden guest #9

If you would like to know more about the thursday garden guest the pr sessions – click here.

For the moment writer #9 is Bernice Burnside of Bvisible PR

bernice

bernice

ABOUT:

Bernice Burnside began her career in television before establishing Bvisible Communications in 2001- a PR agency based on Malahide.

She grew up surrounded by actors and musicians and managed to keep her thespian and musical interests alive until the arrival of her two children, who have replaced these hobbies with a new version of acting and music! Her current interests include food, films and photography. When she does get to relax she likes a bit of yoga, a brisk walk by the sea or a good book

WHAT I LIKE ABOUT GARDENS:

When I was growing up in Sligo, I was lucky enough to have always had plenty of outdoor space for playing. I was fortunate. Ireland’s increasing population as well as our ravenous demand to own a patch of land has resulted in many children being raised with little or no outdoor playing space.

We lived in two houses in my youth: the first one was in an estate and had a wonderful sloping garden – a God-made playground feature and my friends, siblings and I used to roll down the verge when the weather was permitting (and sometimes when it wasn’t).

In my childhood gardens were the herald of seasons: springtime meant seasonal strawberries, gooseberries and edible flowers in our neighbours garden, which I and many of my friends gorged ourselves on (sometimes surreptitiously) and summer was announced by the sensory overload of the smell of cut grass (which reminds me of childhood summer to this day) and the distant buzz of various lawnmowers, hedge-trimmers and other macho motorised-blade machines. Even the man-made calendar year had a relationship with the area, as my school loomed over our back garden reminding us in summer of the blissful distance we were from going back to class.

We moved when I was 8 to a house surrounded by its own piece of land. This was more like it: the garden area was literally 10 times the size of the one in our last house, opening up the possibilities of childhood games. It was dominated by a large Yew tree from which my parents hung a swing that survives to this day. The dry, decorative well was a the focus point for tip-the-can, the open area was ideal for chasing, and best of all, there was a forest to the side and back of our house blooming with possibility. To this day I’m not sure who it belonged to, but for all intents and purposes, it was ours.

This upbringing has almost certainly coloured how I’ve been raising my kids and the back garden and outdoors area was a huge factor when we were looking to buy in Malahide. We got lucky.

Not only is it a corner house with its rear flanked and side by trees, but the previous owner was a very handy handyman. He had built a chair into the back wall, and some furniture in a seductively secluded part of the garden. Micah, like her mother, is irresistibly drawn to the garden – shivering in delight in water fights as early as April, and inventing countless games throughout the summer. Like her mother, her love for the garden is more as a consumer than a curator – I’ve always been happy to help out, but my love for the outdoors is matched only by my ignorance of its flora.

When time becomes a more plentiful commodity, I hope to approach the knowledge and dedication of my husband, starting with the planting of my own collection of herbs. This, ideally, will fuse my love for food with my passion for the outdoors.

One plant I will always remember is ivy and calla lilies. These were chosen for me by a good friend for my wedding day, based, according to her, on my colour preference as well as my persona. A florist by trade, she chose the elegant, aromatic Oriental flowers to greet me when I entered the church. Sometimes I like to imagine that she thought it reflected my mysterious, ageless beauty, but I’ve never had the nerve to ask!

Reblog this post [with Zemanta]

neil kirrane – pr garden guest #8

If you would like to know more about the thursday garden guest the pr sessions –  click here.

For the moment writer #8 is  Neil Kirrane of Edelmann PR

neil...

neil...

ABOUT:

Neill Kirrane is account executive with Edelman.

An outdoors enthusiast, Neill is a big fan of water and trees and can be found climbing a mountain most weekends.  Trees over water on the side of a mountain are a big favourite.

He plans to put in some serious garden time this summer. You can catch him in The Maharees. The land where gardens don’t grow.

WHAT I LIKE ABOUT GARDENS:

I live in an apartment. A small one. Tiny. Like a little box. Nice though. Homely. A fireplace, some art; two original Picasso lithographs, a Miles Davis portrait and a mismatched assortment of paintings, posters and photographs from the four corners of the globe, France to Japan, Cambodia to South America and back home again. Piles of CDs, newspapers and books gather in the corners and either side of a seldom used fireplace.

Would I like a garden? Absolutely. A sprawling lush green forest with a small stream that rushes and races at first and then slows to a gentle flowing and swirling pace. I could catch trout with my bare hands, pick mango in the orchard and pull wild carrots from the rich soil.

As a munchkin, gardening and gardens meant wholly different things. Heaven and hell. One meant picking stones in preparation of my back garden. For days upon days. Who knew that a football pitch could be such a pain in the back. And head. And arms and knees. And back again. Gardening also involved me forgetting to water the plants. Then lying about it. Then hoping nobody would notice the missing rose bush. Or the dead lilies, cactus, or rhodedandrum. Once it even meant a football destroying a greenhouse. Again, lying about it. And hoping nobody would notice. In different order this time.

Raking and weeding and shovelling and planting. Struggling with a wheel barrow. Cursing when it tipped over and spilt soil everywhere. Cursing louder when it tipped wet cement. Hoping nobody would notice…either the cement or the cursing.

Gardens were different. Bright patches in the dark years. Hours upon hours upon hours of football. First to 50. Then next goal wins. Then penalties until it got too dark to see the ball and goal and teammate. Debating the offside rule. And we all cursed, the louder the better. With nobody listening who cared.

Gardens were grass stained jeans, and dirty green cons. Twigs in your hair, a torn tee-shirt, scratched arms. A big stick to beat a path to Feidhlim’s through the tropical man eating jungle that was the empty site next door. And beating that same path anew at the beginning of each summer. Planning expeditions that would follow the river to the sea on a great adventure, like BB’s Little Grey Men, and putting it on hold until after dinner. Or just reading the book again instead.

Lying with a disposable camera, motionless, in wait of the neighbourhood family of foxes, positive that this would be the money shot, wondering if fantastic Mr. Fox looked the same in person as in my head. National Geographic here I come. Giving up and expanding our tree house with Daire and Paul. Swiss Family Robinson. Robinson Crusoe. Launching water balloons at girls, then begging forgiveness. Then launching again. National Geographic can wait. So can forgiveness.

Good times.

Unfortunately, Never Never Land was a myth. And today instead of a lush green forest or a tree house I have a concrete balcony. Where the soil quality is decidedly not deadly and definitely not rich.

And so mine is an indoor oasis. Two tomato plants sit in the window. Spindly little fellas. Tall and thin with illusions of grandeur. And every now and then I’m honoured with two or three bright red baby tomatoes. Once every six months. But they are delicious. Sweet and juicy and they taste all the better because they are the fruit of my labour. I guess that makes me a grower? Self-sustainable. A man of the earth who likes to let soil run through his fingers, sifting through it plucking out grit and stone and errant plastic. Nails cracked and knuckles skinned, a robin redbreast sits on his shoulder, his face weathered by the sun and caressed by the world’s winds and with a back that creaks beneath a chequered shirt and blue skies.

The tomato crop shares a west facing French window with an orchid. Very nice, but struggling because of a lack of sun. I think it may be on the way out. Unless I relocate it to a sunnier spot. Like Spain.

The pride and joy of this little copse of reality, however, is a Chinese Privet. An 18 year old bonsai. And it is breathtaking. 45 inches tall with a wonderfully curved trunk and overgrown foliage. I mist it every evening. Like telling a bedtime story to a child. Every week I soak the roots in rainwater. The leaves and branches should be pruned regularly but I’m a little careless in this. I like it shaggy and unkempt.

Allotments and greenhouses are the way of the future. Man will plant his own produce and nurture it and watch it grow and enjoy it all the more because it is his own creation. Spinach and carrots and spring onions. Rhubarb for dessert. Instead of dropping into a neighbour for a cup of sugar or some Barry’s tea, you borrow a turnip and some mint leaves. Sound for that. I’ll bring you over some spuds and strawberries in the morning. Sounds good no? No food miles or chemicals or cutting down rainforests. Just a cool garden.

I better build an extension to the balcony. It’s a great spot for water balloons.

Reblog this post [with Zemanta]