Hel­ter Skel­ter day out Peter Dow­dall

Bloom lived up to its rep­u­ta­tion as a des­ti­na­tion show with some great gar­dens, writes

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

It’s the flag­ship show for gar­den de­sign and gar­den­ing in Ire­land and as it’s run by Bord Bia it has found a suit­able bed­fel­low in the food in­dus­try. Bloom in the Phoenix Park has de­vel­oped over its 11-year his­tory into a show of which Ire­land can be proud. All food comes from the gar­den and so it is apt that the other main fea­ture of the show, apart from the show gar­dens and nurs­ery dis­plays, is food.

The stan­dard of all the show gar­dens was high. Con­grat­u­la­tions to Kevin Den­nis on his Santa Rita gar­den which, for me, was the best large show gar­den on dis­play. A seat­ing area cre­ated from Done­gal Sand­stone com­plete with fire pit floated above a still pond which was at once sleek and re­lax­ing.

In the smaller gar­dens, I was re­ally taken with a gor­geous space cre­ated by John Durston­for­riaor­gan­ics,anew­com­pa­ny­which uses or­ganic and nat­u­ral in­gre­di­ents in its range of skin­care prod­ucts, and the as­so­ci­a­tion with the Na­ture’s Resur­gence gar­den was fit­ting.

“The nat­u­ral gran­ite pa­tio and sal­vaged steel screen will both play in­te­gral roles in rep­re­sent­ing Na­ture’s resur­gence,” says John. “The rust on the screen will sig­nify the slow, yet in­evitable break­ing down of man­made ma­te­ri­als back into their nat­u­ral com­po­nents.

“The pa­tio is rel­e­vant as the spa­ces be­tween each gran­ite paving stone is filled with low-grow­ing plants. The in­ten­tion here is to com­pare the gaps in the pa­tio to the pores present on the hu­man body, and to il­lus­trate how na­ture can serve to fill these voids and mend such cracks.

“Also, the cir­cu­lar shape of the pa­tio is a ded­i­ca­tion to the planet we all share. The steel trough wa­ter fea­ture was in­ten­tion­ally con­structed from the same ma­te­rial as the screens that sur­round the pa­tio. Both steel struc­tures form a pro­tec­tive layer around the earth-shaped pa­tio — much like how our at­mos­phere pro­tects planet earth.”

The En­able Ire­land No Lim­its gar­den spon­sored by So­lus was de­signed by Joan Mal­lon and was in­spired by chil­dren us­ing the char­ity’s dis­abil­ity ser­vices. The gar­den rep­re­sents the chal­lenges that peo­ple with dis­abil­i­ties face but also the re­al­ity that with some cre­ativ­ity and imag­i­na­tion, you re­ally can live life with no lim­its.

What struck me first about this gar­den was the stan­dard of plant­ing — the pal­ette of or­ange and yel­low us­ing Achil­lea, Geums and Lupins was per­fect. In the cen­tre was an ex­tremely colour­ful six me­tre-high Hel­ter Skel­ter slide filled with beau­ti­ful pur­ple Cam­pan­ula mu­ralis, aes­thet­i­cally jar­ring per­haps but then when you think about what it was sym­bol­is­ing, and the story be­hind the gar­den and the char­ity, it was per­fect.

The­mariekeat­ing­foun­da­tion­werethere en­cour­ag­ing men to get talk­ing and to be aware of can­cer. Near them there was a stem cell gar­den de­signed by Hugh Ryan. Both gar­dens brought a smile to my face, they were quite dif­fer­ent in de­sign, the Marie Keat­ing gar­den very colour­ful and pur­ple and the stem cell dis­play was based on solid black pan­els, pre­sum­ably sym­bol­is­ing the fact that these cells are the ba­sic build­ing blocks.

The rea­son I en­joyed them so much, how­ever, was not for rea­sons hor­ti­cul­tural, but be­cause I am a male who has had can­cer twice and who now owes my life to a stem cell trans­plant and here I was now, many years later, wan­der­ing around the Phoenix Park. It re­minded me — and some­times we all need to be re­minded — to put ev­ery­thing in per­spec­tive.

Bloom is a show­piece for top-end de­sign and it’s great to see such imag­i­na­tion in one area. It also acts as a stage for good causes and the gar­dens above weren’t the only ones pro­mot­ing aware­ness of is­sues — Goal, Crum­lin hos­pi­tal for sick chil­dren, Pi­eta House, Tró­caire, and oth­ers used the event to ar­tis­ti­cally show­case their ser­vices.

Gar­den­ing has huge well-doc­u­mented ben­e­fits to men­tal health, and it was great to see one of the most colour­ful dis­plays at the De­men­ti­afriend­ly­gar­den­de­signed­by­tom Grey for the TLC Nurs­ing Home Group. Plants from our youth such as Lupins, Dianthus and Laven­der were used to trig­ger mem­o­ries in a clev­erly-de­signed small gar­den which cre­ated an at­trac­tive, safe, and ther­a­peu­tic out­door space.

Bord na Mona were present en­cour­ag­ing peo­ple to use their Gro­wise range of com­post prod­ucts, which all have re­duced lev­els of peat and the aim to fur­ther re­duce and hope­fully re­place the peat con­tent com­pletely, ties in with the huge aware­ness of, and in­ter­est in, more en­vi­ron­men­tally sound gar­den­ing and gar­dens.

With the ex­pected huge num­bers pour­ing through the gates it was good to see that the fu­ture of gar­den­ing and gar­den de­sign in Ire­land is look­ing good.

Pic­ture: Maura Hickey/sharpix

Finn Cooney, aged 6, was on hand at Bloom to un­veil En­able Ire­land’s No Lim­its gar­den de­signed by Joan Mal­lon.

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