The Sodcast – Episode 16

sodshow, garden podcast

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

Listen to The Sodcast in MP3 – or subscribe/ listen to the podcast in iTunes. Alternatively, subscribe to the blog and listen to them right here. Missed Episode 15 of the garden podcast ?

First Up:

Always nice to know people are listening. I got this from Bernie Goldbach who heard it all the way from the US of A. One can be inclined to forget this is the worldwide web.


As regards garden sizes I work on….. I sincerely don’t mind what size your garden is….. as long as I am in a garden I’m happy 🙂

This Week On The Blog:

Links For The Podcast:

Images For The Podcast:

This Weeks Oddities:

Development of 3 x 40 minute colour coded self guided Tours / walks consisting of audio commentary, music and digital images which will be available to download at the visitor centre, online and also preloaded onto reusable media cards for insertion into mobile phones

And Finally:

Courtesy of @SeanMcDGrange alias Sean McDonald

It’s North Sligo. It’s mid-November. There’s a storm brewing. It’s 9 degrees. And the Ice Cream Van is here…


And finally, finally…. There were a few people who were simply amazing the last two weeks…. those who know, know the story. Thank you. For the rest of my life you will be forever remembered.

Audioboo Deep Dive @ The Dot Conf

bernie, mark and myself

image courtesy brian greene

For those who don’t know what the dotconf was – this post on the dot conf may explain better.

But, it is not until after the hindsight has kicked in that one really realises just how and what audioboo has helped. This was kicked off by Bernie, via podcast of course.

I followed Bernie’s path with my thoughts on podcasting and in particular audioboo as my tool of choice.

So what can you take from this? A good start, from a gardeners perspective, can be made by taking a trip over to and after that it’s up to you whether you choose to add to the conversation or simply listen. Either or one cannot disagree that the listening to alone is giving radio, maybe of a different format, an entirely fresh and most welcome new lease of life.


Of course it would not have been possible without the people behind the scenes….

Personally, I like this little chat of a podcast that was recorded just after Bernie, Mark and myself had completed our deep dive audioboo sessions. On top of the National College of Ireland. 🙂

Still unsure… my numbers below, the coffee pot is on or you can send me an email or leave a comment below 😉

For me personally, I just find it amazing that an entire post is put together by seperate audio clips, taken over varying days that join together and make complete one blog post. Could I have done this one year ago ? Possibly….

Update: I really like Emilys take on the dot conf

Top Statistics For Donegan Landscaping In 2009

peter donegan

The statistics below do not refer to my website. They only refer to the weblog. The weblog uses wordpress stats.

  • The website itself averages over 2,500 hits per day as a by the way, so I’m told. I’m sure this can be checked out and corrected if necessary.
  • The busiest day on the weblog for reads of one article in 2009 was Tuesday September 9th with 1,412 reads of one article. The busiest month was May with near 10,000 reads of articles.
  • At the time of writing this post, this year I have done 37 horticultural related reviews on loudervoice
  • You viewed over 20,000 of my photographs over on in 2009. But the picture with the most views was:
the pig

the pig

  • The top 10 blog referrers for 2009 were:

The Top 10 Links clicked for 2009 were:


The most viewed video was:

Reblog this post [with Zemanta]

Top 20 Green Influencers to follow on Twitter



Niall and Lauren did something similar over on Simply Zesty

But whilst this list refers to those only green – it is here I must side step slightly….

For it seems in Ireland, in the horticultural department at least…. we really do not get the online gig. And if ‘we’ do… it’s not done terribly well.

I found it extremely difficult to get to the Irish ten mark. And I basically had to give up after….. I could not find 10 Irish & green twitter accounts that I would recommend one follow.

I’m not saying there aren’t 10 green related people on twitter….. I’m talking 10 that use it for what it was intended and for what you wish to use it for…. Not the numbers game, not some company or politicians pimping themselves because some social media guru said so…. but for the exchange ie.  a two way street of useful information…..

That’s the thing with social networks – it’s meant to be a conversation – not a megaphone!

In that context I had to travel outside of Ireland…. and here’s what I ended up with. I’ll borrow the simply zesty disclaimer for this list and save myself the hassle. The list has been compiled based on my own personal opinion of using Twitter over the last year and is by no means the definitive list. There will be some who feel they belong on the list (add yourself in the comments and I may turn it into a top 100 soon) and there will no doubt be a couple that I have completely forgotten and how I follow everyday and who will be offended, I apologize in advance.

*click on the persons @ name to go to that account

1. @PatFitzgerald



based in kilkenny, Pat is a master grower of a mildly different range of plants in an Irish context… I’ve known Pat for I dont know how long, created I dont know how many gardens with and even managed to meet on the odd occasion for a few cups of tea. With over 85% of his products exported, this plant grower, plant breeder and part blogger really does get the online gig. Top that off with simply being a really nice guy. visit: the myplant website

2. @RepakRecycling

I worked along side the repak boys [and girls] on their recycle week 2009 launch garden… but it is the little trinkets of information that come out of someones head a couple of times a day that make me smile. visit




A garden writer, journalist, with the Irish Times since 1995 and an actual garden lover who simply loves the great outdoors. Jane has gardened since she was a small girl, at first sowing and growing the usual suspects: lettuces, radishes, spring onions and nasturtiums. She now lives and gardens in Dun Laoghaire. She has a sixth of an acre, which she gardens organically, and with respect to the rhythms of nature, as much as possible. read Janes article every Saturday in The Irish Times. 

4. @IrishAllotments

run and managed by Thomas Cowderoy based in Cork. Surprisingly Tom is not a gardener…. this is something he runs in his spare time. Another one of lifes good guys. Visit Irish Alltments website

5. @BordBia

with the amalgamation of bord glas [the green board] and bord bia [the state ‘food board’] into one there really is no alternate to these guys. In that context I may disagree and equally agree. But, if you wish to know what’s happening in Ireland in the green department, here’s your answer. visit Bord Bia‘s website

6. @WildIreland

Described as Ireland’s wildlife and nature in 140 character burstsand that pretty much sums it up. New-ish to the scene but very much one to watch. No website to date.

7. @DoneganGardens

yip thats me. 😉 stuck on numbers at this point and so I’ve got it to 7. Onwards and upwards………visit Donegan Landscaping blog

8. @The_RHS



The royal horticultural society on twitter? I neraly fell off my stool when I found the oldest gardening society was embracing technology.

I even blogged it – but credit where it is due these guys really are one to watch and use the online medium to its maximum. It took the Irish equivolent a few years to catch on to this one and check out the date of announcing online [via online] ticket sales. Vist the RHS website

9. @GreenOptions

Green Options describes itself as ‘a community and network of blogs dedicated to helping you figure out what sustainability means to you. Pick a channel above or browse around.’

And that’s exactly what it is. What I choose to do is the somewhat the opposite… I keep an eye, sometimes, on the tweets and – if – the post interests me, I’ll give it a browse over. Some interesting stuff in there! Visit The Green Options Website

10. @ShawnaCoronado



I reviewed Shawnas book a short while ago now. Not a gardener all her life but now she is and loves every second of it. A consultant, author, columnist, and wild woman. Loves life, health, greening, the environment, and digging in the garden. Visit Shawna’s blogs here

11. @OrganicLife

Organic Lifestyle Magazine is a digital publication dedicated to organic lifestyles, alternative health and green living. I’ve never bought the magazine but like @greenoptions at number 9 some interesting pieces in there well worth a read. visit organic life website

12. @grow_green

an Irish one that almost slipped by there. Not too sure who grow green, due to the fact only that there is no website linked. That said, the answer seems to be someone who loves the great outdoors. With messages explaining that weeding was order of the day all weekend and most recently this little nugget… 😉 love it! No website to date.

Just joined 10:10 – the project to cut UK carbon emissions 10% in a single year. an idea whose time has come. #1010

13. @treehugger

Links, Ideas and Conversation from the TreeHugger hive mind, the latest in modern green. Visit the tree hugger website here

14. @ecopond

Ecopond helps you play a part in keeping our planet green. Visit ecopond website here

15. @sweetrebecca



Landscape Designer, Garden Coach, Blogger, Live-Eat-Breath anything garden related, mom of 2 wonderful teenagers. Life is good!! – is how Rebecca Sweet describes herself. There’s not a day goes by that she’s not talking plants with Pat Fitzgerald….  Her blog site Gossip In the Garden is well worth a daily read

16. @interleafer

The musing of California based Laura Schaub all in one bite sized nugget. A award winning landscape designer, writer and photographer and now on the staff of the San Francisco Garden Show. Is there anything this girl hasn’t done. Oh did I mention she was also really nice.Visit The Interleafer website

17. @GardenInTheDark

the green thoughts of freelance writer and journalist Sandra Dark. New to gardening…? follow Sandra her little trinkets are just genius…. 😉 Read Sandra’s gardening pieces here

17. @cop15



I’m holding at 17 here…. zero interaction but – a useful one to keep an eye on….. moving on – United Nations Climate Change Conference 2009 in Copenhagen (COP15), brought to you by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Denmark.

Well worth watching noting and paying particular good attention to… you’ll read this and wonder why carbon credits exist in the first place.  All bundled up into 140 charachters. Visit Cop15 website

18. @LifeOnTheBlcny

Fern Richardson writes her blog 99% about container gardening on balconies and patios. The reason why I actually pay attention and it seems so many others do to. Videos, images, reviews and anything else you reckon you couldn’t do in a small space….all rammed into 140 charachters and one whopping blog site!Visit Life On The Balcony Website

19. @bbctreeoclock

Meet Kate from the BBC Breathing Places team and make your pledge to plant a tree for Tree O’Clock. They’ve already smashed the world record for number of trees planted by 100 people.

All their trees count towards the UN Environment Programme’s Billion Tree Campaign. Hoping this one is simply gonna continue…. it might just start a trend elsewhere. Visit the BBC Tree O Clock website

20. @TheWoodlandTrust

wasn’t best pleased to see a little of the twitter numbers game being played byt then who I am I to argue. But then I’m an individual and not an organisation. That said Sharon from the Woodland Trust Digital team along with a few colleagues from around the organisation  do actually keep you posted on what they do and what you can do 😉 I’ll give them credit for that. On another note – If there is a variation of this in Ireland… I’ve yet to find out about it. As a twitter account it works and really well. Visit The Woodland Trust Website

Reblog this post [with Zemanta]

self made

this article was written by freelance writer and really nice girl [ 😉 ]  Jane Ruffino some time ago now. Autumn 2008 to be exact. It was geat fun meeting Jane and kind of funny somewhat seeing anothers view of myself in writing… take a read and see what you think.  


Pink Planter

 Real gardens and virtual friends

Words Jane Ruffino Photos Maura Hickey  


Landscaper and garden designer Peter Donegan is constantly on the remake. His has become the only certified fully-accessible horticultural website in Ireland, and through blogging, live-streaming and Twitter, he’s brought an unlikely online social networking angle to landscape design and gardening. But offline, too, Peter is always looking for ways to make his gardens and his life more fun, more environmentally friendly, or more interesting.

He’d always hoped he’d be running his own business by the age of twenty-five, and he was; he set up Donegan Landscaping in 2001. “Our first award was for a fifty-five-acre 18th-century estate in North Dublin. It’s privately owned. People were saying to me ‘Where’s your father? How long are you working with your dad?’ I was going, ‘No, no, it’s just me.’”

Peter started gardening when he was about six, growing plants under his bed. Yes, we said ‘under his bed’. When his mother discovered what he was up to, she wasn’t pleased, and he became worried. “There was a mentor, an old Marist brother, a gardener-type of guy, so I went across and I said, ‘My mam’s going to throw all my plants out! Could you mind them in your glass house?’ This was the 1980s, so Ireland was pretty shit, and all that Bob Geldof stuff.” Peter talks like that, oblique yet sensible, describing sensations more often than appearances.

The Marist brother taught him about growing plants and gardening, and he did his first garden at around age ten, for a friend of a neighbour who was having guests around. “The neighbours called around and said, ‘Your garden is lovely. Who did it?’ And she said, ‘Oh, Peter Donegan.’ And she said, ‘You must give us his number.’ And she went out and she took me in by the hand. And so that was it.” It wasn’t easy being a kid in Ireland of the 80s, let alone one who was into gardening before television made hedge-trimming sexy.

At sixteen, Peter went off to study horticulture, and worked and studied both in the UK and around Ireland before he set up on his own back home in Dublin. In a way, he’s always been on his own, or at least a breed apart. “You know the way some people are just really good with children?” he says, and then adds, “But I don’t mean to compare humans with things that photosynthesise.” He may not grow plants under his bed now, but he certainly has a connection with them.

He hasn’t lost his boyish, obsessive love, or his child-like wonder, and rather than a Man trying to conquer Nature, he talks about his role as if he were something other than a creator, more like an editor of landscapes. He speaks with zeal for leaving things to grow wild, and even in front of his own house, he’s created a hedge-flanked boreen with a little strip of grass in the middle instead of the conventional paved driveway. “I get free fruit on the way to work.” I picture him arriving at his desk with berry-stained hands and cheeks

– if only everyone were as happy as this guy is.

Of course he wants and needs to make money, but making ends meet is the means to an end, a way of being able to keep at what he does best, which is also what he loves most. “The biggest problem I have is that because of what I love I tend to sacrifice the business bit of it.”

More than once during our conversation, he compares what he does to buying the Beatles on vinyl: it’s not just about having the recording, it’s about having it in a particular way that is special to you, even if it’s rarer or more expensive. “I’m not saying I don’t know how to make a couple of quid, but in the scheme of things if we’re doing a garden, and I go, ‘That tree will be better but it costs a hundred quid more,’ I’ll buy the better tree and I won’t change the quote. That’s the bit where I fall down,” he says. “Feck it – I’m getting paid a wage. That will do me.”

He’ll do your garden whatever way you like, but decking and cobble-locking seem to make him cringe. He’d probably try to talk you out of them, not out of snobbery, but because choking the ground is not particularly sympathetic to the environment, and it lacks imagination.

He recently built an extension on his house. “I felt like I’d increased the concrete space, so I planted 120 trees to kind of balance that in my own brain. You can’t eliminate the square metre-age of a house – multiply it by 75,000 units per year and turn around and go, ‘I don’t know why the water has nowhere to go.” To Peter, a garden is an aesthetic space, but must be done with the same sense of responsibility that he seems to apply to everything; he’s the type of guy who hates the thought of people being or feeling excluded.

That’s why he didn’t just need just a decent website, he needed a place online where he could interact with people and share his love for gardening. It was in the middle of last year that his friend Adrian McMahon, Head of Operations at Segala, helped him remake his online presence. He and Adrian first met at a trad session in their local pub. “Peter landscaped my gardens, and we got chatting over a cup of coffee,” says Adrian, whose company audits and certifies websites for compliance and accessibility. “Peter asked what I did. And when I explained and demonstrated the benefits of having an accessible website, that cup of coffee turned into a positive longer project.”

Peter had a website, but Adrian told him “If you’re good at what you do, which you are, it’s no good having it if nobody can see it. And I just said, ‘But I have a website.’ It was very archaic thinking.”

He went off and thought about it for a while, and then they got some not-so-positive feedback to the site. “We got a complaint from a lady who was hard of sight and she said she couldn’t read my website and she thought it was unfair. So I rang Aido, and he said to me, ‘You need your website fully accessible,’ and I said, ‘Fine.’”

“He listens and takes things on board. If he doesn’t understand it, he asks questions until he does,” says Adrian. “Once he realised simple changes controlled by him could benefit so many others, he embraced it.”

This is where Paddy O’Hanlon came in. “I met Peter through Adrian McMahon. I came on board as Peter’s web designer.”

Paddy is a designer first and foremost, but he puts a special focus on start-up companies, and on those with a real environmental conscience; he also builds accessibility into his sites as a standard practice, not an optional extra. “I undertook an overhaul of the previous site, including a redesign of the visuals and information layout with a strong focus on web accessibility and web standards.” They left a lot of the original design, but rebuilt the site from scratch (although it’s now being redesigned again).

When this was done, they got Segala to certify it as accessible, so that those with difficulty reading the screen could see it or listen to it through headphones. “The certification cost a few quid, but from what I’m told, we are the first to have horticultural-related anything – definitely in Ireland,” Peter says.

It didn’t stop there. “We got a complaint from a lady who lives in a Gaeltacht region – by phone. And she said, ‘I am hard-of-sight, but I’m also a Gaelgoir and I can’t read your website.’” Most people would dismiss such a call as an isolated incident. Not Peter. “I take it seriously. It’s not so much a complaint. So we made our website bilingual and then ended up as one of the top 50 companies in Ireland for the use of the Irish language.” Peter doesn’t chase awards; when he wins them, it’s the result of having done something that seemed to make sense anyway. His innate sense of fairness has never steered him wrong.

This doesn’t seem to surprise Paddy. “From what I know of Peter, I’d say new and different ways of doing things are appealing to him,” he says. “So if the opportunity to try something presents itself, why not try it out?”

So it wasn’t long before Peter was blogging, Twittering, and live-streaming. “It might inspire people to develop an understanding rather than pay for an education,” he says.

“The technologies were all new to Peter,” says Adrian. “You could say I went from being a friend to support and tech trainer.” Before he met Adrian, to Peter, Twitter was the sound of a bird in a Leinster hedgerow.

“Landscape design isn’t something you would quickly associate with the web, but I think it’s working out for Peter,” Paddy says. “The web is a powerful tool for networking as well as promotion. A case example is Peter’s Pink Boat heading down to Electric Picnic. It’s not something you can plan, or that happens all the time.”

The Pink Boat: an unlikely garden feature, and a good example of how online social networking can help bring unlikely people together with unlikely gardens. The centrepiece of Peter’s 2008 Bloom in the Park show garden was a 33-foot pleasure cruiser built in 1957, that had been due to be condemned. “It was used in the original Casino Royale, or so I’m told, and we have proof that it is,” Peter says. “That said, we didn’t use that to our advantage. I didn’t want it to take away from the garden. We painted it pink and black-tinted all the windows. I wanted to make recycling and gardening and eco-friendly environments – I wanted to make it very child-like.” And that he did. To some, the Pink Boat was a White Elephant. It even got a few noses out of joint, but Peter didn’t mind at all.



“We had a decision to make: do we want a medal, do we want the work, or do we want to have fun? So that’s exactly what we did

– we had fun, and we upset people because we had a pink boat in a show garden.” It was his second year in a row that he entered the Bloom in the Park without a main sponsor for his garden. Last year, it was an old Morris Minor in which he placed an entertainment system, and then set in a rather wild-looking garden. It was called “No Rubber – Soul”, and was a tribute to those good intentions that result in the half-finished projects in sheds and gardens around the country. He did win an award for that one. But this year, it was his online presence that brought appreciation for Peter’s passion.

“After the show, we needed to save it from being re-condemned because I couldn’t afford to hold onto [it],” Peter explains. “Adrian and I put up a blog post saying ‘We need a home for a pink boat.’ Adrian put out a Tweet saying ‘help needed’, and a link to my blog.

[2FM DJ and blogger] Rick [O’Shea] brought me on air. The response was unbelievable.” By the evening, they had found a home for the boat.

“We were offered money, but we turned it down. We didn’t want money, we wanted a good home for it. Electric Picnic said they would take the boat and they’d leave it there forever and ever, and in wintertime they’d wrap it up in a nice, warm, dry shed, and they’d restore it and keep it pink and keep the windows black.” So the boat was brought to the Electric Picnic, to an audience perhaps more willing to appreciate the joyous spirit in which it was created than the snooty folks who thought pink was for princess bedrooms and Elvis impersonators.

“You end up like the struggling artist. They say there are three types of show garden: one is ‘I will get work with this,’” he says. “And it’s a bit twee and crap, and Daniel O’Donnell, but it’s gonna sell.” The second type that has backing, and it wins medals. You know: neat rows of flowers like hospital corners, plagues of hanging baskets, gravel paths and wrought iron benches from which glassy-eyed people in designer wellies stare at half-starved koi flapping about in a plastic pond. Yawn.

“And then there’s me.” Peter, who enjoys communicating with the world both through about his gardening. This is nothing new. When he was in his early twenties, he planted daffodil bulbs in his front garden for his girlfriend, in the shape of a love heart, spelled out, “Sarah Loves Peter,” and waited for them to grow. “I brought her back, and I stood her up on the wall, and I went, ‘Look!’ She went, ‘Ye feckin’ eejit, ye! Drop me home!’ Because everybody would see. It’s child-like.” And this is a good thing.

The use of new technologies has helped him to share his knowledge and his enthusiasm, even with those who might not appreciate floral declarations of love. “I’ve got a good friend who is a civil engineer, who grew lettuce seeds for the first time last week,” he says with great pride. “And he followed the instructions on my blog.” So it is here that we’ll leave the seed-planting metaphors to you.

the original article can be read here

Reblog this post [with Zemanta]