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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!

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stephen rawson – pr garden guest #7

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

For the moment writer #7 is  Stephen Rawson of Rawson Communications

ABOUT:

steve...

steve...

Steve Rawson is a Media & Public Relations consultant based in Dublin, Ireland. He specialises in Public Affairs, Media Relations, Media Training and publicity/Promotions.

His interests include current affairs, environmental issues, music, travel and food. He is a musician (vocalist & guitarist) and enjoys good food, good company.His favourite books include The Shadow of the Wind by Carloz Ruiz Zafon, Suite Francais by Irene Némirovsky, Hell at the Breech by Tom Franklin, Ghosts of Spain by Giles Tremlett and A Woman in Berlin.

Favourite Films (too many to mention) but include Once upon a Time in America, Festen and Crash. Favourite TV programmes: The Wire, The Sopranos, Frasier, Malcolm in the Middle, anything by David Attenborough, Eco Eye.

WHAT I LIKE ABOUT GARDENS:

I spent most of my early childhood in the late 50’s in Greystones, County Wicklow on an imaginary horse riding the range in search of Indian trails across Greystones Golf Club and the environs around Hillside Road. It was an era when children had the freedom to roam and the natural world flourished all around us.

Smell can be such a subjective experience but for me the nutty coconut aroma of yellow furze, the seemingly omnipresent perfume of privet along with hay harvest, farmyard manure and elderflower bring back well-embedded memories.

Memories of my mother trekking us across the golf links to pick crab apples with us all given a job to prepare the resultant clove-scented crab apple jelly – the storing of jam jars, the purchase of jam jar covers (hard to find today), the sterilising, cooking, cooling, name tagging and storage. The recycling of lemonade bottles, the knife-sharpening van, milk delivered by horse-drawn cart, travellers calling to fix pots & pans. It was basic environmentalism out of sheer neccessity.

That I now tend an organic cottage garden at my home in Killester is no accident nor is it based on some eco-fiendish plot to convert you – for me it’s always been that way – planting, harvesting, composting and recycling back into the ground – a natural common- sense cycle of life.

I’m also a foodie so my perquisite for any garden starts outside the kitchen door with a Belfast sink and a half barrel wooden tub containing parsley, thyme, sage, bay leaf, fennel and wild garlic. A sunny spot outside the front door is a perfect growing environment for our prolific rosemary bush. There’s no excuse for not being able to grow these herbs in pots on a small apartment terrace and the ease with which you can grab a few herbs to finish off a hearty beef bourgignone, a summer salad or a wild garlic risotto all adds to the pleasure of fresh food and is bound to impress your guests.

When it comes to plants I like to go for scent and I’ve strategically placed jasmine, honeysuckle (woodbine) outside the backdoor. These two plants are easy to grow and they give off a pungently heady scent making summer evenings a real treat with the backdoor and bedroom/bathroom windows open.

Wildlife will always be attracted to cover so I have planted privet and fuchsia for hedging and fern and mombretia for top of bed cover while lavender borders give off a much needed therapeutic scent. Again, lavender and gravel is a perfect remedy for the low maintenance gardener while fuchsia and fern can all be grown in pots for apartment terraces.

The above mentioned are the basics before I head to the garden centre for trays of annuals –, alyssum, stock, petunia (get the scented trailing variety usually available from late May/early June)) nicotiana, while aubretia and trailing lobelia (red for effect if you can find it) are not scented but provide wonderful colour. The one plant I always grow from seed in pots is night-scented stock for summer evening scent.

Of course, the far side of the scent spectrum is the pungent aroma of compost breaking down rotting veg, grass and tree clippings as the worms eat their way through the compressed but warm rotting vegetation. All green waste is recycled cutting down on waste charges.

I built a small pond approximately 6 ft in length by 4 ft with a shelved depth to 3 feet bordered with liscannor paving with a water fountain. You’ll hardly have your back turned from filling it with water (from the water butt attached to the outside downpipe) before the frogs arrive and take up residence.

For birdlife, apart from the aforementioned cover, I have put up a birdtable and feeders for wildbird seed, peanuts, fatballs and sliced apple. Again, feeders can be easily placed on apartment terraces. Apart from your common or gardener visitor I have goldcrests, green finches, long-tailed tits and black caps. Of course, it’s not all sweetness and light here as I’ve also had visits from predators herons who like a nice feed on fish and frogspawn while a hovering sparrowhawk has also spied the rich pickings on offer.

All of the above plants mentioned attract butterflies and bees but you just can’t beat the hum and sight of a bumble-bee’s arse hanging out of a foxglove or antirrhinum flower in mid-summer with a background of birdsong and trickling waterfall as you sip your glass of cool sauvignon waiting for the bar-b-cue coals to heat up.


If life deals you lemons, make lemonade. If it deals you tomatoes, make Bloody Marys.

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the garden guest sessions…

the question was asked...

the question was asked...

This year and trickling into next, The Thursday Garden Guest Sessions were an absolute success. 10 guests speakers, self nominated and at random, first come first selected took it upon themselves to tell their story of ‘The Garden – What I like about…’.

And so to the next Thursday Garden Guest sessions. The name is open to change. The selection route holds no boundaries. It is your garden. It is your story and it is up to you to decide…If you fancy telling yours, drop me a line via email, pick up the telephone or just leave a comment here.

can you do it... ?

can you do it... ?

Regarding the name of the upcomng series [Oh My God 😉 ]the most immediate suggestions came from John Peavoy with What’s behind YOUR hedge?” “Green-fingered gurriers” “Weeds, seeds and grassy knees”. Irish stu came in with dig dug donegan” “peter the pothead” “grassed up” and the road to prune” “weeding out” “Who Will Sucseed? Bohoe decided on “No recession in the garden”, or “Yes, I can garden”, or “The Green Visitor”, or “Your Next Door Gardener”, or “Gardenator”…and finally Donna Mair came in with “The plot thickens”.

donna… thursday garden guest #8

If you’d like to know more about thursday garden guest – click here

For the moment writer #8 is Donna. There are few things that one should be in life. One of them is polite. To be able to say hello and thank you, the basics in their simplest form. After that anything else, for me, is a bonus. Donna is one of those great ones that comes with a lot of little bonuses and if ever a series of articles could show a different side to how you may have perceived anyone, Donna’s is one that in that context that has made gardens interesting yet again. People of world, please charge your glasses, coffee cups or beakers… Donna!

The Garden – What I like about…

simplicity

simplicity

One of my earliest memories of gardening is living in Saskatchewan (Canada) and picking baby carrots, peas and green onions from my mom’s garden to snack on in summer time. I remember the many hours my mom spent on that particular plot of land – clearing the grass off the top first, staking out the boundaries and picking all the rocks out – only that garden also brings back memories of us kids being made to pick rocks too! Was it worth it in the end? Now of course I think yes, but back then…

earth

earth

When I had my own place, I was on ground floor and under my window was a small strip of ground, about 2 feet wide, and 5 feet long. I was only renting but asked the apartment manager if I could plant something out there. He said yes, so I dug it up, picked all the rocks out (that brought back memories!) and went to the library to find a book. I found a neat one called Postage Stamp Gardening that impressed upon me how much food I could grow in a small plot of land. After a week of planning and scheming, I went and bought seeds, and seedlings… if I remember right, radishes, cherry tomatoes, scarlet runner beans and two zuchini (I think UK people call them vegetable marrows?). I called my mom all excited about my new garden, and told her two about my 2 zuchini and she laughing asked if I planned on feeding the entire neighborhood! By the time summer was over, I had reaped a harvest of 3 meals of beans, a ton of zuchini, a few mishapen radishes that were so hot I could hardly eat them, and no tomatoes. Apparently I didnt water my plot often enough 🙂

life

life

A few years later, I got married, and moved into my first home. My husband lovingly built me a raised garden in the back yard, under a huge fir tree. We bought top soil, and again I plotted and schemed as to what to plant. In my mind’s eye, I could see myself reaping a harvest of fresh lettuce, watercress, cucumbers, garlic, snap peas, even swiss chard – all things that my mom had successfully grown in her own garden over the years. Needless to say, the first year I planted too soon and our Vancouver rain washed away my neat rows of lettuce seeds, drowned my garlic, and caused my cucumber plants to go moldy. The lettuce did sprout, but instead of nice neat rows, it was all in one clump at the lowest point of the garden! I was crushed, but not beaten!

The next year, I dug my own compost into the garden, waited till after the May 24th long weekend ( my neighbor told me to wait, as thats when the rain would quit) and I tried again. Again my garden was a sad state – the plants grew, but so did the weeds! And I had gone from a part time job, to a full time job and ‘inherited’ two stepsons so had little spare time to put into it.
The third year – my husband gently persuaded me that although my thumb is green in my own mind’s eye, in real life it really isnt so 🙂  So I planted all flowers – Static, and flowers for drying. California Poppies, Bachelors Buttons. Two blueberry bushes. Even a Peony plant. My garden thrived! We had a multitude of blueberries all summer long and it was wonderful.
beautiful

beautiful

The fourth year – I had to clear nearly 6 inches of dead pine needles off the top of my garden – it was under that giant fir tree remember? And the soil by this time was so acidic that even after adding lime to it, it wasnt balanced enough to grow anything decent… except weeds!  So we put plastic over it, let the summer sun kill off all the weeds, and then dismantled the garden and redepositied the soil around the rest of the yard.

Am I sad about having no garden? Yes and no. I still love digging in the dirt. I know there are still things I’m good at growing… blueberries and flowers that dont need watering every day 🙂  And potatoes. I know I can grow potatoes. But until I get time to do gardening on a daily basis (which might be soon actually), I’ve chosen to plant things around my yard that are native to where I live: Lupins, Foxglove, Ferns, Shasta Daisy, Lily of the Valley, Crocus’. And I do have a Lilac tree, Lavender bushes and a Clematis that no matter what I don’t do to it, I just can’t kill!
Thanks to Peter for letting me share my gardening adventures.

phil… thursday garden guest #7

If you’d like to know more about Thursday garden guest time – click here

phil

phil

For the moment, garden guest #7 is Phil O’Kane alias Iced-coffee. A photographer of genius, a blogger of personality and a decent man who, if he could help – he would. That’s a pretty good start in life where I come from.

Apart from that, the reasons I like Phil are pretty plain to see. Pardon my wry sense of humour, but a ‘leaf’ through his photo archives pretty much say it all. My admiration for ones finest traits aside, gardens more often show an extremely different persona.

To the manor born, girls and boys, when the musics over turn out the lights… I give you Phil. Enjoy 🙂

So when Peter asked on twitter for guest posts about gardens I thought I would volunteer. I’m not sure why really, I don’t even have a garden, and have done very little gardening in my time, though I am always interesting in finding new things to write about. And yes, there will be a few photographs included too, naturally.

On the list of ‘most clichéd photographs’ there are a lot of flowers. I have tried not to go overboard on the flower photographs, though occasionally I say “screw clichés”.

beauty...

beauty...

all good...

all good...

My parents have never had much of a garden, but rather two patches of grass in front of the house with a path that runs up the middle leading to the front door. This didn’t give me much opportunity to experiment with seeds and soil. Mum would often say, “Go help your father in the garden,” but he didn’t want me using the hedge clippers or lawn mower anyway, and there wasn’t much else to do. And we didn’t have plants to speak of. The only times I can recall digging up the garden was to bury the hamsters. I loved those hamsters… except the last two, they were evil biters.

This picture doesn’t do it justice of how it used to look, always well kept. Recently though, it has been dug up and changed a bit, and not cut in a while.

still beautiful...

My Granny on the other hand had a large garden in her old house (which is still in the family), though it was just grass; a football pitch, tennis court, rugby, wrestling and general running ground; a good space when there are a lot of kids. She did have a small patch of soil with various flowers though.

Since moving house a few years ago, she has kept the same idea, only on a smaller scale; grass, flowers, eating area, oh and that massive monkey tree. She has an area of flowers, and can occasionally be found tending to them:

nature...

nature...

I do love nature, though it isn’t very often that I immerse myself in it.

Currently floating between rented accommodation, I don’t expect much of a garden, if anything that resembles one. A little bit of space at the back of the house is considered a bonus. My current abode includes all of this space.

My house-mates had great plans for it when we moved in in September: a canopy, get rid of the large weeds clinging to the wall, white-wash the wall, some plants, flowers, vegetables even. To be honest, I offered to help, though it hasn’t happened yet, and I doubt it will. It aint my house and I will probably only be here for the next year, so I’m not that concerned. We do have friendly snails though…

not so deer...

not so deer...

My friends in Rhode Island, a State with many many trees and woodland, have an awesome garden and their father loves to take great care of it. Whilst there in the last few years I spent many an hour wondering around with my camera. I wasn’t able to catch any of the wild turkeys on camera though I did spot a deer and crept as closely as I could before it scarpered – yes this is actually in their garden.

I am a fan of cities and city life, I don’t expect to have much of a garden, nor the time or desire to put into one for a few years. Though as I mature, I begin to see myself with lots of garden. Maybe in a house in the country. Maybe. My parents are considering moving in the next couple of years to the country, buying a plot of land and building their own (mostly my dad’s idea obviously) – geothermal heating, a large garden for the dog (the dog we haven’t got yet); the whole works.

Maybe then I will grow my own garden, but until that day comes I will continue to take the photographs.

Oh and I won’t let it get like this:

oh my God...

oh my God...

Thanks

Phil