Billy Burke, gar­dener

Irish Examiner - Feelgood - - Health - Billy Burke, gar­dener, Dr Steeven’s, HSE HQ, Dublin

5.50am I tune into the weather fore­cast first thing. To plan my week, I have to know what the weather is do­ing, a bit like farm­ing. The re­cent dry spell has made things tricky. I can’t use a hosepipe so I’m ex­tremely busy with the wa­ter­ing can! Dr Steevens, a for­mer hos­pi­tal, is on about seven acres. 6.30am I drive from Clon­dalkin to work, op­po­site Heuston Sta­tion. I’ve worked here for 21 years and with the HSE for 38 years, but I started my gar­den­ing ca­reer at New­lands Golf Club, where I served my time as as­sis­tant green keeper. It was fan­tas­tic train­ing be­cause green-keep­ing is very ex­act­ing work and it taught me how to treat grass so that it’s lush and beau­ti­fully man­i­cured. 8.30am I break for a cof­fee. 9am I spend much of the morn­ing cut­ting grass, us­ing a walk-around mower. I have a ride-on mower also, but the walk-around gives a bet­ter cut and a bet­ter fin­ish, and it’s more man­age­able for get­ting around trees and poles in the grounds. 11am I take a break from mow­ing to tend to plants in the scented flower bed in the court­yard. I planted it two years ago and I have plans to ex­pand it be­cause it’s brought an­other level of en­joy­ment to the gar­den. Vis­i­tors and staff fre­quently re­mark on the beau­ti­ful scents that are re­leased as they pass by. I go for a lot of colour when choos­ing flow­ers be­cause I think colour re­ally sets off the lawns. 12am I spread weed­killer around the paths and lawns. The lawns were badly burnt dur­ing the dry spell but I’ve use plenty of good fer­tiliser to re­store them. Peo­ple are amazed at how quickly I’ve man­aged to re­turn them to lush grass. 1.30pm I take over se­cu­rity du­ties to al­low the se­cu­rity guard get a bite to eat. 2pm To­day, my last task be­fore go­ing home is to trim the beau­ti­ful box hedg­ing around the two graves in the grounds. One con­tains vol­un­teers shot dur­ing 1916 and the other con­tains British sol­diers. Rel­a­tives come and visit so I like to make sure the graves are well kept. I love my job and get plenty of pos­i­tive feed­back, which is mu­sic to my ears. It’s great to have hard work recog­nised. I won an award two years ago.

“I like to make sure the graves are well kept”

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