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THE Gar­den County once again lived up to its name as five ta­lented res­i­dents brought home medals from the Bloom fes­ti­val last week­end.

Three gar­den de­sign­ers and two botan­i­cal artists were among the win­ners at this year’s fes­ti­val, which took place in the Phoenix Park in Dublin from Thurs­day, May 30, to the bank hol­i­day Mon­day.

Rúaidhrí Bash­ford’s show gar­den ‘Mov­ing For­ward – Build­ing My Best Pos­si­ble Life’ was awarded a cov­eted gold medal by the dis­cern­ing judges of this year’s com­pe­ti­tion.

The small con­cept gar­den aimed to in­spire peo­ple to con­sider the im­por­tance of liv­ing in a home of one’s own, whether that is in a res­i­den­tial set­ting or in a clus­tered set­ting.

The gar­den was spon­sored by Cheshire Ire­land – which sup­ports adults with phys­i­cal and neu­ro­log­i­cal con­di­tions and its ethos is to al­low peo­ple to live their best pos­si­ble lives on their own terms – and re­flected the part­ner­ship be­tween Cheshire Ire­land and the peo­ple who use its ser­vices.

Within the gar­den, the wil­low wat­tle, wil­low nest and Ir­ish wood­land sig­ni­fies the sup­port the or­gan­i­sa­tion gives to peo­ple in mak­ing pos­i­tive choices around where they live. This com­bined with the sculp­ture of a fig­ure fac­ing for­ward in­di­cate bal­ance, growth, learn­ing and har­mony.

Robert Moore from Kil­macanogue was also awarded a gold medal for his ‘Mem­o­ries are made of this – De­men­tia: Un­der­stand To­gether Gar­den’, which he cre­ated for the HSE.

The medium-size gar­den took its in­spi­ra­tion from the 1950s to cre­ate a space where peo­ple liv­ing with de­men­tia can rem­i­nisce in a wel­com­ing and sup­port­ive way.

The gar­den, named after the song made fa­mous by Dean Martin, aimed to take peo­ple back in time to when gar­dens not only pro­vided food for the soul, but food for the table too. It fea­tured a man­i­cured for­mal space with box hedges and tea roses em­blem­atic of the era, as well as a prac­ti­cal fruit and vegetable patch that pro­vided much of what was on the menu in peo­ple’s homes at the time.

For many of those liv­ing with de­men­tia, re­call­ing mem­o­ries from years gone by is of­ten eas­ier than rememberin­g more re­cent events and so the gar­den shed was trans­formed into a re­lax­ing place that al­lowed vis­i­tors to ac­cess mem­o­ries and share them in a com­fort­able set­ting.

The ‘Breath of Life’ gar­den de­signed by Tunde Perry for the Marie Keat­ing Foun­da­tion was awarded a sil­ver-gilt medal by the fes­ti­val judges.

The Calary-based de­signer aimed to tell the story of lung cancer, Ire­land’s big­gest cancer killer, through her cre­ation.

The multi-coloured gar­den high­lighted the stark re­al­ity fac­ing many of the 2,564 men and women di­ag­nosed with lung cancer each year, as well as the hope that ex­ists with the ad­vent of new treat­ment op­tions and greater aware­ness of its early signs and symp­toms.

The show gar­den also aimed to pro­mote the im­por­tant role that healthy eat­ing, ex­er­cise and quit­ting smok­ing can play in re­duc­ing a per­son’s risk of, not just lung cancer but, all can­cers

Two artists from Co Wick­low were also suc­cess­ful in the hotly-con­tested botan­i­cal art com­pe­ti­tion.

Lynn Stringer, a botan­i­cal artist from Kil­coole who spe­cialises in wa­ter­colours and pen­cil, was awarded a sil­ver medal for her work ‘Tufted Vetch – Vi­cia cracca’.

Ni­amh Hard­ing-Miller from En­niskerry, who has a broad artis­tic back­ground and works in a num­ber of medi­ums, won a bronze medal for her cre­ation, ‘As­ple­nium Scolopen­drium, Hart’s-Tongue fern’.

In ad­di­tion to Wick­low’s strong show­ing in the green-fin­gered el­e­ments of Bloom, it also had a strong pres­ence in the food vil­lage and Bloom Inn, where a num­ber of lo­cal food and drink pro­duc­ers show­cased their prod­ucts to the thou­sands of vis­i­tors.

Among those who took part were Janet’s Coun­try Fayre from Kil­coole; O’Han­lon Herbs from Gle­nealy; Miena’s Hand­made Nougat from Castle­salla, near Don­agh­more; 250Kal Foods from Wick­low town; Wick­low Brew­ery from Red­cross and Wick­low Way Wines from New­town­moun­tkennedy.

As well as cap­tur­ing the pub­lic’s at­ten­tion, ex­hibit­ing at the fes­ti­val brought fur­ther ex­po­sure and op­por­tu­nity to lo­cal pro­duc­ers.

On Fri­day, the food vil­lage was a hive of ac­tiv­ity as over 250 trade buy­ers from across Bri­tain and Ire­land availed of the op­por­tu­nity to meet with the more than 100 Ir­ish food and drink com­pa­nies ex­hibit­ing at this year’s event.

The trade break­fast, which is now in its sixth year, fea­tured the largest num­ber of buy­ers yet boast­ing a com­bined buy­ing power of €15 mil­lion. The buy­ers in­cluded rep­re­sen­ta­tives from lead­ing re­tail­ers, food ser­vice or­gan­i­sa­tions, ho­tel groups, spe­cial­ist re­tail­ers, distrib­u­tors and air­lines, and in­cluded the likes of Har­rods and Bri­tish Air­ways Lounges from the UK and large Ir­ish re­tail­ers such as Dunnes Stores, Tesco, Lidl and Aldi.

Bloom also pro­vides a plat­form for food and drinks com­pa­nies to launch new prod­ucts to the mar­ket. Last year, Wick­low Way Wines tempted passers-by with its new rasp­berry wine and, this year, Wick­low Brew­ery launched its lat­est of­fer­ing, the gluten-free ‘GingerKnut’ Gin­ger Beer.

Tunde Perry in her ‘Breath of Life’ gar­den for the Marie Keat­ing Foun­da­tion. The ‘Mem­o­ries Are Made of This – De­men­tia: Un­der­stand To­gether Gar­den’ de­signed by Robert Moore (in­set).

Rúaidhrí Bash­ford in his ‘Mov­ing For­ward – Build­ing My Best Pos­si­ble Life’ gar­den, spon­sored by Cheshire Ire­land.

Leigh Wil­liams from Wick­low Brew­ery with its new ‘GingerKnut’ Gin­ger Beer.

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