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Irish Gardening Online…?

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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.

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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.

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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....?

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How one ‘should’ deal with [online] criticism [?]

Recently, I did a review of The Rothe House Gardens in Kilkenny. It is recommended to read it and the comments for this post to make sense. Read it and pop back here after…..

I’ve done many reviews. Some of the places I’ve seen were a disgrace. Some amazing. But the intention is not to cause upset, rather to give an honest appraisal. In most cases I have emailed the department or association.

I did get a comment in on The Rothe House review after some time though. It was from Roisín McQuillan the manager of The Rothe House in Kilkenny. And I replied. I also picked up the phone that evening and rang Roisín. After she sent me on this mail. The above images were attached.

Hi Peter

Thanks for your phone call this afternoon, it was great to speak to you.  As we discussed, I’m sending you some images of the garden ‘before’ and ‘after’, so that you can see the work which has been done to get us to where we are today.

The garden has been reconstructed by Rothe House Trust Limited and Kilkenny Archaeological Society, as part of its Conservation Plan.  The objective was to reconstruct a 17th century urban garden.  A steering committee was formed, chaired by Dearbhala Ledwidge, Heritage Officer with Kilkenny County Council. This committee undertook research into the design of the garden, which was complemented by an extensive archaeological dig.

The plot of land had been used by the OPW as a carpark and storage facility, and the whole area was overlaid with 3ft of concrete.  There were various sheds around the area which had to be pulled down. Funding was received from Fáilte Ireland, Kilkenny Borough Council and Kilkenny Civic Trust, with the balance being raised by private fundraising.  The final cost of the project was over €600,000.

The work began in January 2006, when the area was cleared and the dig commenced. This dig found over 2,000 artefacts relating to life in the garden area over 700 years (as far back as the Cistercians in the 1300s).  The results of the dig determined the final design of the garden, as we sought to be as authentic as possible to the original design. The planting beds of the 17th century were located, and these have been positioned in the exact spot.  Cross walls which were built after the 17th century were knocked, and a new wall was built on the line of a wall which had originally been there.  A master stonemason was employed to restore the original boundary walls, and new walls were built where gaps had occurred over the years.

The planting scheme is as authentic as we can make it. Research was undertaken into the types of plants which were grown in the 17thGardener’s Labyrinth which she uses as her ‘bible’ for planting.  We include vegetables, herbs, aromatic plants, fruit trees and shrubs, bulbs etc.  Each autumn we plant bulbs, all of which have a pedigree going back to the late 16th or early 17th century. These have given us great colour in the garden last Spring. century. Mary, our Gardener, plays close attention to the

I attach two images at present, one before the work began and one shortly after the garden was opened. You can see the amount of work which had to be completed.

The Garden was officially opened by Mrs Mary McAleese, President of Ireland, on 11th April 2008, and in its first summer it won the Regional and National Landscape Awards with the Tidy Towns Competition.

Next week, I will send you some further images of the garden to illustrate the amount of work which was done to ensure that the Garden opened on time, and within budget.

As I explained, we are now embarking on our final Capital Project, the Renaissance Project, which will re-present the entire House & garden to the public in a new and very exciting way.

With kind regards, and have a good weekend.
Róisín McQuillan
Manager
Rothe House, Kilkenny

So now I have an invitation to visit and to meet and greet those responsible for the grounds. Roisín has done her job extremely well. Fact. And those who never knew about The Rothe House Trust House and Gardens are now a little wiser. Bulaidh bós Roisín. Standing ovation.

By the way, very logically they have also put their sat nav co ordinates up on their website. Smart people.

What do you think….?

Sat Nav Co-ords: 52o 39.3’ N, 7o 15.3’ W

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