Posts

Donegan Gardens: A Dublin City Garden

Wider rather than longer, this garden may appear quite simplistic, maybe at first glance. For me however, it is one of the nicest small/ city gardens I have ever created.

Don’t get me wrong there are other gardens, more show off pieces so to speak that maybe and of course can come quicker to my mind. The one offs aside and to this case I will note that there is a big difference between the warm home and nice house feel outside and my ticket always, unless otherwise directed by you, is on your behalf to create your garden.

Here my first step was to clad the walls and piers with white-painted timber, allowing the join lines to show and running left to right [or right to left], something that really gave the impression of a far greater and brighter space as it moved out of the seating room to the lawned and planted areas. Vertical lines would have done very much the opposite in working with the existing layout.

Partly down to plant choice, I really like the dappled shade as it flickers against the walls on the bright sunny days. I like the fact that the seating area, a room within itself comes with a view of the entire garden; there is a lovely feel from within of separation from the rest of the garden.

In making the space look greater, timber clad aside, the idea was to stretch the eye to the furthest points; the lawn runs longest from the bottom right hand corner to the top left and the steppings walk from the bottom left to the room now created in the top right hand corner.

Over many other alternates the brighter and smaller in size sandstone cobbles were chosen, again the lean was to creating the feel of a greater space. Though I’m sometimes hesitant to recommend it, the built-in seating and table area was a smart move. I find it helped the finished garden look of existing for some time yet very well maintained.

The planting wasn’t over complexed and was kept to a quite short palette. The choice was to a quite natural flow of foliage and silhouette, allowing for some specifically chosen to have their day on the horticultural podium through the seasons. Outlandish only through the photosynthetic maybe. Of note the tall and thin [note: bright, airy feel of space] dwarfed fruit trees were used to the back wall and for want of a better description by category, the tall shrubs brought in semi mature also helped create that instant existing feel to the new space.

Whether it be the steppings that lead out from only one set of doors though both of course can be used, the seating to the side wall or the fact that there is via the plant choice colour for all seasons and intrigue when maybe there shouldn’t be, or very simply a decent sized lawn, this garden for me, works.

My personal test as to whether I like or love a garden always comes down to the question of whether I would happily sit within A specific space outdoors and allow time pass me by. This garden passes with flying colours.

Thoughts, comments or queries:

  • leave a comment below or
  • have a chat with/ contact Peter Donegan

donegan gardens

Grow Your Own Raised Beds

raised vegetable beds

If you are going to invest in raised vegetable beds for the purposes of growing your own kitchen garden or more, then there is only one real way to do it. Enquires, getting some built suited to your space outside or changes in design and style…. my contact details are below.

Build requirements:

  • Well built. Structurally sound, strong and solid.
  • Built to last for the future, well able for the Irish weather
  • Fit their intended use aesthetically

making raised vegetable beds making raised vegetable beds

Main ingredients:

  • 10cm x 22cm x 240cm new timber sleepers [10 x 8.5 inch timber]
  • 6.3 x 200 mm [8″ long] corrosion resistant In-Dex screws
  • butyl rubber lining

in-dex screw in dex screw hex driver

Of note:

  • The screws are expensive but – they are the modern version of a coach bolt and are seriously strong. So strong that a standard drill would not do the job of churning them in. Then again, they are 8″ long. Also they use an 8mm hex driver bit. Again, for the long term quality will matter.

dewalt saw draper spirit level

Know in Advance:

  • Timber can vary in length by up to/ about 10mm. When one is 230cm and the next 245cm – as precision goes, it matters and is is extremely important, for me. Measure twice – cut once.
  • Wood can twist and bend, slightly. This is not unusual – it’s just what wood is and what it does. It may need some working.
  • Spirit level is one thing – aesthic levels are far more important. This is not a swimming pool.

making raised vegetable beds making raised vegetable beds

Alternates:

One could reduce on timber quality and timber dimensions, but each of these beds will have 2- 4 tonne of wet soil forcing against it’s sides. Strong, durable and tough matters here and hence why the screws/ bolts are the quality that they are.

The lining could be done cheaper. However, butyl rubber is generally noted for lining ponds and again that amount of wet soil lying constantly against timber sides…. you simply won’t find a stronger longer lasting liner than this.

Quality counts:

The ground here had three different levels from three different sides. A spirit level is of benefit but so is a good eye for appearance. A mattock will dig perfect trenches.

The timbers are [the tallest] three high on their side – 66cm – the largest area of which is 240cm x 180cm. I didn’t want them to look like [silly as it may sound] big boxes. The alternated end corners help for that reason.

Above all the right tools for the right job and life will be made much easier less complex. The tools I use are not that that will put together an ikea type book shelf.

raised timber beds

After Construction:

This is a place as versus being thought of as labour intensive, I would like to be renowned and considered for being one of retreat, relaxation and escapism.

Next for this garden space, from the same timber I’m going to build a garden bench. If I could, I put a matching espresso machine in there too – hand-made, from wood of course. Select planting to the peripherals will also help make this more of a home. But, Rome was, in this case, very well built in a matter of days – phase 2, the growing, begins soon after the soil is hand balled in. 😉

Enquiries or further information on your made to measure grow your own raised beds ?

Ask for Peter

timber for landscaping

10 Plants for Small Irish Gardens

garden colour plants

There’s a small space in your big garden, you’ve a big space in a small garden ? Or maybe you’d just like a little more interest formed from a little more of a varied range of plants that won’t take over and at the same time will keep maintenance slightly more to the lesser side of things.

If colour is the answer and you’d like a little of it throughout the year, take a look at the list below and see if something takes your fancy.

Whichever way you might see fit, the following are 10 plants that may just get the taste buds tingling and make your space outside a little more exciting.

1. Agapanthus Africanus

agapanthus africanus

The Agapanthus/ Liliaceae [african blue lily] are a genus of around 10 species originating in Southern Africa.  The clump forming lilly is a deciduous perennial with leaves around 12″ long and produces a 1.5″ long trumpet shaped flower in a cluster that can measure about 2′ by 1′ in size in late summer. Some note them as vigorous, but I say well worth it and a great one for the plant swapper.

2. Choisya Aztec Pearl

choisya aztec pearl

The Choisya [Rutaceae] are an evergreen genus of around 8 species more commonly known as the Mexican orange blossom. Funnily enough, the flowers are white and some say perfumed – although I personally find it a bit hard to get the scent more often. The Aztec Pearl bears 1″ in size pink-ish white flowers in spring/ summer that form in cymes of around 5 blooms. It can grow to around 8′ tall, but I’d never allow it go to that height and it will therefore need a good cut back every season once established.

3. Convolvus cneorum

convolvus cneorum

The Convolvus [convolvulaceae] are a very varied genus of about 250 species. In Ireland the most famed is the cousin you don’t really want to have call by at Christmas time, but does and more often over stays its welcome. This fellow however, the Convolvus cneorum, is a low growing rounded clump former and only grows to about 2′ high x 3′ wide producing an almost trumpet like white flower with a yellow dotted centre from its pink buds at the start of the summer.

4. Crocosmia lucifer

Crocosmia lucifer

The Crocosmia or Montbretia [Iridaceae] is a clump forming genus of about 7 species also originally from South Africa and another great one for the plant swappers of the world. This particular chap grows to about 4′ tall and produces burning red flowers mid summer that slightly jumps out of the grass like clump. Personally, don’t like the name, but it’s an absolute stunner and looks great on the kitchen table.

5. Dianthus ‘Shooting Star’

dianthus shooting star

The Dianthus or Carnation [caryophyllaceae] are a genus of over 300 species from Europe, Asia and Southern Africa. Personally, I hate carnations as bouquet of cut flowers, but I love them in this format. Pretty, low growing and relatively easy to maintain.

6. Matteuccia  streuthiopteris

matteuccia  streuthiopteris

The Matteuccia [dryopteridaceae/ woodsiaceae] are a genus of about 4 species originating from the woodlands of Europe, N. America and E. Asia. This particular beauty is more commonly known as the shuttlecock or ostrich fern. It can produce fronds of up to 4′ long and the plant itself can grow to around 5′ tall. Once again it grows by spreading and will need some attention, as all plants do.

7. Osteospernum Cannington Roy

osteospernum cannington roy

This evergreen clump former [astreaceae/ compositae] is from a genus of about 70 species mainly hailing from Southern Africa. It’s daisy-ish flowers are purple tipped white that change to mauve pink/ purple on the underside with purple florets and it can flower from the end of spring to autumn [depending]. A great ground cover plant and another one for the plant swapper.

8. Papaver orientale ‘Prinzessin Victoria Louise’

papaver orientale prinzessin victoria louise

The poppy family [Papaveraceae] are a genus of about 70 species. This, the oriental poppy is a clump forming perennial that grows about 3′ x 2′. Its short lived flowers are produced in late summer and are apricot in colour and are followed by a quite striking seed head. A little different from your usual, but definitely one to try out.

9. Polemonium caeruleum

polemonium caeruleum

I haven’t done this fellow any favours in the photography department, but the commonly called Jacobs ladder [polemoniaceae] is a clump forming genus of about 25 species. It can grow up to 3′ tall by approximate 1′ wide and produces blue flowers on axillary cymes. The image above may not make you want to rush out the door to pick one up, but I’d definitely rate it in the small garden department.

10. Polystichum setiferum

polystichum setiferum

The Holly or Shield fern  [dryopteridaceae] is a genus of about 200 species. This evergreen is better commonly know as the Soft shield fern and produces fronds of up to 4′ in length. The description is short and sweet, but ferns just that and the image tells it like it is. Personally, I love it.

Any problems, leave a comment or

Garden Maintenance

I have been maintaining gardens since before I was a teenager and after 10 years in business garden maintenance is still one of the services that I pride myself on. In 2007 I won the overall ALCI award for garden maintenance – in this case it was a private garden.

I provide both commercial and domestic garden maintenance outside of and including Dublin.

I find that it is the preparation prior to any gardening works taking place that ensures the relationship between you and I works best and also guarantees the best results from your budget and the time I spend with your space outdoors.

Garden Maintenance can be done by way of the following:

  • a one off garden visit
  • regular scheduled garden visits

Within a one off visit you may simply require a good honest tidy over of your space  to give it a lift for the upcoming season or you may simply require a more manicured approach to an existing outdoors to get it back to its finest appearance once again. Others simply require a helping hand to get the garden back on its rightful course where it has been let go for some time.

Services for regularly scheduled and one off visits also include:

  • additional planting to suit the season or for additional colour
  • mulching of beds and play areas
  • fertilising programme for trees, shrubs or lawns
  • grass cutting of open areas or small spaces
  • hedge cutting and shrub pruning
  • tree services
  • weed control in lawns or through existing planting and borders

Whilst some wish to complete the garden maintenance tasks themselves one can also get that little added direction and consultation. In this regard, garden maintenance schedules, checks and calenders can be put in place to suit your specific space in the great outdoors if required.

If you would like to talk with me about garden or grounds maintenance you can as always contact me via the following options.

  • by email info@doneganlandscaping.com
  • via this website: click the contact page
  • call mobile – o876594688

My qualifications:

  • Certificate in Commercial Horticulture (1996)
  • General Examination in Horticulture – Royal Horticultural Society (1997)
  • Advanced Diploma in Commercial Horticulture (1998)

The Right Time To Get The Garden Done

It must be coming into your quiet time for the oul’ gardening now…..

...

Just one of the many clichés I’m on the verge of hearing more regularly now that the temperatures start to drop slightly and the evenings start to get a little shorter. The answer is more the opposite in fact.

There is a point where there are certain things that cannot be done no matter what stage of the season one is talking from, but in general the wise owls, tend to, get the ‘garden done’ in what some would consider the off season.

The reality is that with the coming of October onwards and the drop in temperatures of the seasons comes the en mass planting of trees and shrubs. Don’t get me wrong summer is fine for gardening… but when one needs to plant en mass or is planning on a budget and has the patience to place into the ground what may appear as a twig – and wait – then planting when the specimen is dormant and the sky above is willing to act as your automatic watering system ie. you do not need to water every single plant to keep it alive during the pretty decent warm summer we have just had – then logic, in gardening terms is simply just that and has been applied extremely well.

Have you ever seen someone watering plants in November…?

The other advantage is that the new plant is not competing with weeds as it tries to settle into its new home, wherever that maybe. Because essentially, weeds are plants – they simply don’t know that we don’t want them to grow there – and –  like the plants we do want to grow, both are in their over-wintering state.

Generally speaking in this context, put into the summer months, the turning of the soil in order to plant [the plants] brings with it weed seeds flourishing to the surface. Come the rise in temperatures towards the end of spring it is hoped the developing canopies of foliage will assist in reducing this problem – and therefore the competition for nutrients. A mild nipping of the tips helps here.

The question then remains – when is the best time to get the garden done? And the answer is pretty simple – whenever you wish. The question back is what do you want from your garden [?]

If one for example wishes to have a ‘not always just green garden’ ie. one where the plants come and go in and out of flower throughout the seasons; like the forsythia below that flowers on bare stems in early and mid spring – if planted in summer – then there is a wait until the following season for it to come into its own and fullest glory.


Based on last year [2009] which was a complete wash out of a summer which followed straight into an iceberg…. there was a point where freakish summer climatic  conditions meant the gardener [yours truly] had to take time to let the clothes dry out, at some point, eventually.

But this year has been quite good. I’d easily gather bbq sales were up on last year and with that summer feeling has come a rise in requests for garden make-overs, tidy-ups and manicures [with mild additions to]. The other thing noticable is that clients and potential clients started calling in June to plan for the coming ‘off season’.

Tree and hedge planting season is what it may be called for some. But what are people calling Donegan landscaping asking for ?

The requests all have planting of some form involved, but generally speaking the reason to do it, as versus the type of planting, in the off season is the fact that the couple/ family or in the case of one residential complex – the client[s] do not wish to have to water or maintain the plants once planted. A smart move, when making the most out of ones budget, as versus reducing the budget in the main season and not getting the most from the project.

It also means the planting is not trying to flower, establish and settle itself throughout a period where transpiration and growth are also a trying to take place.

It may well be the weather for you to stay inside, but for the tree, the gardener and the plants, investing wisely now may just give you the same rewards for a lot less effort come next spring and summer.

And on top of that…. there’s some hedging and really, really nice trees to be planted 😉

How does your garden grow…?

...