Mal­low num­bers bloom Peter Dow­dall

Some gar­den shows have deeper roots than oth­ers but all have grown and thrived, writes

Irish Examiner - Property & Interiors - - In The Garden -

IT’S whistlestop time at the mo­ment in the world of show gar­dens. Chelsea fin­ished last week and in Cork, the Mal­low Home and Gar­den Fes­ti­val proved an­other re­sound­ing suc­cess, achiev­ing record vis­i­tor num­bers once more as the gates closed on Sunday evening.

This week­end it’s Dublin’s turn with the Bord Bia-spon­sored Bloom Fes­ti­val tak­ing place in the Phoenix Park.

The grand old dame of gar­den shows, Chelsea, is still a stand out and no mat­ter what any­one says it is where every­one wants Gold Medal suc­cess. The top award from this show can set a de­signer or nurs­ery up for life. The ku­dos that comes with a Chelsea Gold Medal can­not be repli­cated.

The show in Mal­low doesn’t at­tempt to be a mini Chelsea, it couldn’t. The bud­get for show­gar­den­son­the­mainav­enue­could­pay for the stag­ing of the en­tire Mal­low Show and leave change — but the Cork show has found its niche.

It’s an ex­hi­bi­tion of high hor­ti­cul­tural stan­dard with nurs­eries and gar­den cen­tres of­fer­ing plants for sale that are as good in range and qual­ity as you will see at any show, any­where.

The gar­dens that are on dis­play Mal­low, too, are per­ma­nent. It is now nearly 20 years since the first show in Cork Race­course hap­pened, but this doesn’t mean that each gar­den there is twenty years old, no, the gar­dens go through changes all the time, with some tweaked and al­tered and oth­ers com­pletely changed.

How­ever, what the term ‘per­ma­nent’ means here is that many of the gar­dens have the ben­e­fit of ma­ture hedges and trees that were planted nearly 20 years ago and you sim­ply don’t get this type of ma­tu­rity at other shows. Well, cer­tainly not with­out Chelsea type bud­gets.

Mal­low has de­vel­oped over the years and now in­cludes A Taste of West Cork, vin­tage car rally, pet expo and its ar­ti­san food vil­lage. And in terms of scale, one has to re­mem­ber where we are in terms of pop­u­la­tion.

Is there a mar­ket for a spe­cial­ist gar­den­ing show of the scale of Mal­low with­out the added at­trac­tions? I don’t think so. It is be­cause it has be­come more of a sum­mer show that the num­bers flock through the gates, and this keeps the com­merce go­ingn — and the ac­coun­tants happy.

Thus, the show can af­ford to in­vest in the gar­dens. Any­one who has even one gar­den will tell you that the cost of main­te­nance and makeovers is sub­stan­tial. Mul­ti­ply that cost by 25 and you will have an idea of the money that needs to be spent on the gar­dens at Mal­low each year.

Bloom is cer­tainly fly­ing the flag in terms of stan­dard in gar­den de­sign — and food in Ire­land — and I’m sure it will be a huge suc­cess this year. This is the flag­ship event for gar­den­ing in Ire­land and that’s as it should be as it is or­gan­ised by the gov­ern­ment agency re­spon­si­ble for the devel­op­ment of both the gar­den­ing and the food in­dus­try.

In its eleventh year, this show has de­vel­oped into the type of high pro­file and high stan­dard event that Ire­land needs.

With all the de­vel­op­ments and changes over the years — Chelsea is over 100 years old, Mal­low nearly 20, and Bloom is 11 — one thing has re­mained and has to stay con­stant at the cen­tre of all the shows, and that its the plants.

Like all as­pects of life, gar­den­ing, gar­den de­sign and plants are all at the mercy of fads and trends and dif­fer­ent styles move in and out of fash­ion. In­ter­est­ing to note that many of the stars of the show in Chelsea were the same plants that were be­ing used in the show gar­dens at Mal­low.

Al­li­ums were ev­i­dent through­out both shows and they were par­tic­u­larly ef­fec­tive in the RHS Green­ing Grey Bri­tain Gar­den in Chelsea where the fan­tas­tic Salvia ‘Car­radonna’ was also used to great ef­fect.

My favourite white Al­lium, ‘Mont Blanc’ was used in sev­eral of the show gar­dens in Mal­low along with var­i­ous Salvias and Hostas in dif­fer­ent va­ri­eties. These are loved by de­sign­ers for the ef­fect they bring to the gar­den, not just in terms of colour, but also in terms of tex­ture and the lush­ness of the fo­liage and nowhere was this bet­ter il­lus­trated than in the Ja­panese Gar­den at the Cork venue.

With­out ques­tion though, the out­right star plant in both shows and I am sure that this will be the case this week­end in Bloom too, were the Lupins. They seemed to be ev­ery­where, from the press box out­side the BBC stu­dio to so many of the show gar­dens - they were ev­ery­where and I never tired of them. They made the Mal­low Show with their regal stems stand­ing like can­de­labra through the gar­dens. They are the show gar­den plant for this year.

Pic­ture: Dan Line­han

Pa­trice Holmes, Aherla, hav­ing fun with Kayla and Ava O’ma­hony at the Mal­low Home and Gar­den Fes­ti­val at Cork Race­course, Mal­low.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Ireland

© PressReader. All rights reserved.