Social [Media] Gardening

peter doneganLast week saw the fifth Bloom In The Park take place with close on Ninety Thousand visitors pass through the gates of The Phoenix Park. I was there on the Monday of Irelands largest garden show with Brian Greene, the gentleman with whom I co-present The SodShow, Dublin’s only garden radio show.

But behind all of the stunning plant displays, garden paraphernalia and blooming flowers was something that on one hand has absolutely zero to do with horticulture but something that must and really has to be considered… maybe even embraced.

Considering that this is the year two-thousand-and-eleven, one would maybe, or not, be surprised to find just how many of this green fraternity don’t use internet related tools at all. At the very basic foundation, I found many garden related associations and firms are in fact either website-less – or – if they do have a web presence, it can very often be almost prehistoric.

On Wednesday June 8th I was one of four speakers invited to talk to an approximate two hundred plus business owners at a conference called Social Media Means Business. This is not my first [nor my fourth] time to speak on the subject. My topic of choice in this case was the use of audio. In short, digitally recorded story telling.

So what on this green island has this got to do with you, Joseph and Mary public ? Pause. Before the Joan of Arc re-enactment society of Ireland come running out screaming….

….where’s our Cycas [palm] revolutas lecture Donegan ?!

Just bear with me on my wee journey before I get mildly back on track.

Donegan Landscaping has been in business almost eleven years now. When I first started out, to get a garden to move from enquiry to starting could take up to four weeks. In fact at times using the recently built catapult, made semi McGyver A-Team style from a near fallen tree to increase the speed of the trajectory calculated, carrier pidgeon now soaring through the air with a hurling helmet on – garden drawing securly attached to its heel, may have been faster.

Joking not aside, from the initial phonecall to making the first visit – back home to do some sketches to a return visit – to suggested photographs, that one had to get developed – to dropping out an invoice by hand or by post, the journey in hindsight, was one that boggles the mind somewhat. And even though I did hear the voice from the cloud scream…

I am the saviour. I am email….!

Within seconds another voice yelled back….

Yeah ? Well… we has no internet connection.

That carrier pidgeon had better come back home.

To the present tense, you and I are now in a situation were, in Galway or Gibraltar for that matter, one can listen to garden radio Dublin at your desktop computer. Heck you can even listen to it on your telephone.

Nothing new there you may say, but for the first time in horticulture [?] Bloom In The Park gave each show garden a QR code, a blurred looking sort of bar code in short, on their information sign. So if you liked a particular planting style all you needed to do was scan the QR code, using your mobile phone to find out about the plants, where you can buy them and more.

That I am aware, this has also been roled out in some garden centres which may then bring you directly to a page for hints and tips on planting styles and advice on gardening.

Outside of doing the show for Dublin City Radio [it airs every Friday at 3pm by the way] and writing my article for The Tribesman, the set up that I have on my mobile phone alone means that my time spent on the internet is actually very little. Surprised you may be, but the fact that I have clients that I have never met may baffle you even moreso.

Your tool of choice may well be Facebook, Youtube, twitter or even audioboo. But no matter which, the point so easily made is that from beginners to garden enthusiasts right up to the horticultural experts – and on a different level from consumer to service providers and to retailers – how and how much gardening is promoted, off or online, in this country is of benefit to us all.

Last weekend whilst camping in Lough Ennell I interviewed campsite owner Eamonn O’Malley for the radio show which will then turn to the podcast and end up on my weblog. I had tea in the 17th Century estate of Mornington House with Anne and Warwick O’Hara who I have interviewed many times before, my visit there now posted as review on the blog – as is Lough Ennell, the lake itself.

Bringing it back to garden shows, to horticulture and again to Ireland. Let me pose the following:

Firstly, how many of the trade took it upon themselves to do a youtube video, to tweet, post some images, some audio or a blog post. More than that, maybe, how many will take a leaf from Bord Bia’s book [see what I did there ?!] and produce their own QR codes ?

The follow on from that is as a garden lover who must buy from the trade and equally who enjoys garden retail therapy, I may just be a little more aware and informed of your product if you did. Now wouldn’t that be great, for us all. Who knows I might even tell someone else about it.

Maybe I should have titled this article: Media. Social. Gardening.

As a by the way you can contact me in the following ways:

Audio For @smmbdotie

I’ll update this after The Social Media Means Business Conference


Today I spoke at The Social Media Means Business conference. It took place in Tallaght stadium inassociation with South Dublin Chamber of Commerce and South Dublin County Council. My topic to cover was not gardening as such, but podcasting.

The above audio was played as a demonstration of sound and the varying types that may help to tell a story.

Whilst in the stadium I did two sample audioboo’s. The first of those was with Maria who was serving tea and coffee to the 200 approximate strong audience on their tea break.


The second, was Michelle Tighe chosen at random to show just how fast audio can [now] be published to the web, how little work it takes to do so and just why it doesn’t take up a lot, if any of my working time.


Thank you so much to all those who attended for listening to me 😉 and also to Krishna and the team for inviting me to speak.


Irish Times Innovation January 2011

Todays Irish Times Innovation [new ideas in business] magazine features a story [page 47] by Olive Keogh about my online endeavours.

Case Study Peter Donegan Landscaping

Even the most traditional businesses can benefit from using social media

I took a screen grab of the article [below] which you can read if you wish. I think it’s a really cool piece actually. The quote below the photo [below] made me smile 😉

The image of the paper above was sent to me by Christian Hughes and the photo used in the piece by Olive was taken by John Williams. Thank you gentlemen 🙂

Peter Donegan Landscaping Ltd – now on Facebook

After some time, Peter Donegan Landscaping Ltd is now on Facebook

There are some tweeks and minor changes still to be made to the blog and the actual facebook page, but for now….

The Weekend Garden Outdoors Podcast

sodshow, garden podcast

The Sodshow Garden Podcast – every Friday – in iTunes, all good podcast stores.

Listen in MP3 format – or – As always you can rss the podcasts via iTunes or you can subscribe to the blog and listen to them right here. Missed last weeks garden podcast ?

On The Blog This Week:

Interesting snippets:


And finally:

Straight from the European Union and more organic information:
DG ENV informed the Group about the EU Ecolabel scheme, which has been in place since 1992. The scheme has to be reviewed and the Commission has proposed appropriate amendments to the Regulation – and the Ecolabel scheme would now cover food and drink products as well. This will not be implemented now, but only after a study has been made by the end of 2011. The study will involve consumers and assess whether the Ecolabel will be compatible with the EU organic logo.
CIAA, IFOAM and COPA-COGECA expressed their concerns – including the major risk that consumers would be confused and misled and they called for some kind of communication strategy.
ECVC pointed out that the Ecolabel scheme has been used more traditionally and this calls for cautiousness and that the creation of a new scheme would not benefit anyone. In FairTrade’s view it would be essential not to devaluate the organic EU-logo. CIAA suggested that not only consumers become involved in the study but that the Commission
used other alternatives such as round table meetings. They also presented the argument that the study should not be rushed through with the sole purpose of carrying out new initiatives. EOCC addressed the certified system; separated or single out for the revised scheme.
DG ENV stated that the criteria will be improved and strengthened every 3-5 years and that the Commission was aware of the dilemma between fair trade end eco. The Chair concluded that the Group needs to be informed, so that the concerns can be addressed.


Answers on a postcard and  have a great bank holiday weekend 😀