The Irish Mail on Sunday
Prepare for the power of the flower: the Bloom festival is back
It’s a bed of roses in the park as talented garden designers reconvene
A17 ft topiary Mr Tayto, the set of Mrs Brown’s Boys transported to the garden, an edible woodland, and a Barretstown House inspired green arena. Yes, it’s the wonderful Bloom season, now in its eight year in Dublin’s Phoenix Park.
The Bord Bia festival has become a landmark event. Last year it attracted 110,000 visitors. This year, with some really creative show gardens, as well as the amazing plant village and floral pavilion – not to mention the food and commercial stands – even more visitors are expected.
Just wandering around the plant pavilion, browsing the new and the rare, can take the best part of a day.
The show gardens are, of course, where the best ideas are to be found. My advice is to get there as early as possible, particularly if you want to stand and stare.
There are seven debutantes exhibiting gardens, including Ailish Drake of Limerick. Her home city, celebrating its cultural roots this year, inspired her creation. She worked elements of the city’s rich medieval heritage into her design, including King John’s Castle, St Mary’s Cathedral and the Hunt Museum’s medieval collections.
Designers Ingrid Swan and Ruth Liddle joined forces to highlight the talent of Irish sculptors. ‘I feel Bloom is an excellent opportunity to showcase the talent of sculptors we have in Ireland,’ Ruth said. ‘ We often look abroad for inspiration but we both feel that Ireland has the ability to set the stage in garden design and art.’
Ingrid and Ruth have already laid the paving in their Bloom creation and are now busy installing a freestanding gabion wall. Gabion in Italian means big cage and is basically a huge box or cylinder filled with rocks. Leonardo da Vinci had a great interest in gabions, using them for the foundations of San Marco Castle in Milano, calling them ‘Corbeille Leonardo’.
Wayne O’Neill’s edible woodland garden will show the culinary, medicinal and practical uses for woodland species, set in a pretty woodland scene.
Dennis Garden Design challenges the lack of green spaces in cities and the fact that the urban environment needs to be planted up as fully as possible to breathe properly. The garden, contrasted with graffiti walls and steel installations, will show the obvious benefit that plants have on people’s lives in a city environment.
A total of 30 gardens will be on show in the park next month. A perennial favourite of mine is Bloom veteran Fiann Ó Nualláin, a man of great imagination. His creation, ‘The First Place’, will show the medicinal qualities of plants.
Bloom is all about our amazing food produce, too. The Food Village, where goodies can be seen, bought and tasted, will show- case the extraordinary talents of our superb small food producers. Top chefs Neven Maguire, Kevin Dundon, Donal Skehan and Catherine Fulvio will all be on duty with daily food demonstrations.
Finally, the Floral & Nursery Pavilion, which has over 50 exhib- its, will host demonstrations on the techniques and the skills required to create a floral display at home. There will be some fashion and style as well, with the style stage showcasing the best floral and botanical-inspired fashion trends for the summer season.
And, as always, there are the commercial stands, where you can buy everything and anything you need from topiary scissors to a conservatory as big as your house.