Peter Donegan, a name synonymous with horticultural brilliance, has put Dublin on the global map with his unparalleled landscape designs. As the first Irish landscape architect invited to design at the Melbourne International Flower and Garden Show (MIFGS), the Southern Hemisphere’s largest and most prestigious flower show, Peter’s achievements resonate within the horticultural community, across Dublin, and beyond.

“If you’re offered a ticket on a rocket ship, you don’t ask who’s going; you just get on” Peter reflects on his approach to seizing opportunities​ (GardenInBloom)​.

Early Passion and Education

Peter’s journey into garden design started at a very young age. “I started growing plants under my bed at age 6, asked far too many questions as a child, figured out what phototropism was by definition, and did my first garden at age 9,” Peter recalls. Despite garden design not being a well-known profession in 1980s Ireland, his imagination and ability to turn daydreams into reality set the foundation for his future career.

Peter pursued his passion academically at Kildalton College of Horticulture in Kilkenny and ventured out independently at age 24. His determination and unique vision have always been his driving forces, even when the profession was not widely recognised. “I’ll quote Mom in always referring to me as unique and special (interpret that as you wish), but I always had a plan in my head of who and what I wanted to be,” Peter shares.

Recognition in Melbourne

Peter receiving the People's Choice Award at MIFGS 2024

Peter receiving the People’s Choice Award at MIFGS 2024

In 2023, Peter’s innovative designs earned him a Gold medal in Melbourne, a testament to his visionary approach and exceptional skills. His success there has paved the way for further recognition and opportunities. A year later, Peter returned to MIFGS, this time as a garden judge and designed the show’s featured garden, winning The People’s Choice Award and solidifying his reputation as a leading figure in landscape architecture.

“A Moment in Time – Presented by Daisy’s Garden Supplies is set in South-Eastern Australia and journeys a veteran pilot returning home and the mental difficulties they might be facing,” Peter showcasing his designs’ narrative and emotional depth (Pro Landscaper Magazine)​.

Of his Melbourne experience, Peter said, “Melbournians and, if I may, Australians have a very similar sense of humour to the Irish… I’m humbled to have been invited to design there. That one of the judges walked towards it smiling greater as she got closer and came off with tears in her eyes says it all”.

Designing Historic European Gardens

Peter’s journey is a remarkable tale of passion, dedication, and creativity. In 2018, he was selected to represent Ireland in designing the WWI Centenary Peace Garden at Château de Péronne. This prestigious project marked the centenary of the end of World War I, and Peter’s design was a poignant tribute to peace and reconciliation. The success of this project led to his return in 2022, where he designed a second garden at the 13th-century castle.

Impacting Irish Television and Beyond

Peter’s influence extends beyond international flower shows and historical gardens. From 2019 to 2022, he was the series garden designer for Ireland’s most-watched TV show, RTE’s DIY SOS: The Big Build. His role in the show brought his expertise into the homes of millions, inspiring viewers with transformative garden designs that blended functionality with aesthetic appeal.

Peter's garden for DIY SOS: The Big Build in Santry

Peter’s garden for DIY SOS: The Big Build in Santry

Peter’s work on DIY SOS: The Big Build highlighted his ability to create spaces that are not only beautiful but also serve the needs of those who use them. His designs have always been about more than aesthetics; they are about creating environments that enhance people’s lives.

Irish Innovation and Excellence

Peter’s achievements highlight the growing recognition of Irish horticultural talent globally. His work is a source of pride for Dublin and inspires aspiring landscape designers, many of whom train at the College of Amenity Horticulture in the Botanic Gardens.

Moreover, Dublin’s vibrant ecosystem continues to promote creativity and entrepreneurship. This dynamic environment has enabled individuals like Peter to thrive and achieve international acclaim.

Peter’s journey from Dublin to the global stage is a testament to the city’s rich horticultural heritage. Events like Bord Bia Bloom highlight the very best of Irish gardening and landscape design, offering a platform for local talents to showcase their skills.

Nurturing Talent

Peter Donegan’s accomplishments testify to Dublin’s ability to nurture and promote world-class talent. His journey from designing local gardens to winning international accolades highlights the city’s vibrant creative community and its commitment to excellence. As Dublin continues to support and celebrate its horticultural talents, the city is well-positioned to remain a prominent player on the global stage.

Peter reflects on his unique ability and inspiration: “It is an unusual sensation always to see others smile as they walk towards a landscape I designed and emerge with tears in their eyes. That was something I thought only a Sean O’Casey play in the Abbey could maestro. On the one hand, what Ireland and Dublin mean to me is a complete grounding to remain humble always. That, balanced with an inherent ability to see a daydream, the logic to turn that into a series of equations and a garden design so that it can be made into a reality, for others to see with their eyes closed and open.”

For more inspiring stories of Dubliners making a mark in their fields, explore the journeys of individuals like Jennifer Rothwell, Ruth Johnson, and many others who, like Peter, are shaping the future of their industries and contributing to Dublin’s global reputation.

Learn more about Peter Donegan and his work at Donegan Landscaping.

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