After a tortuous week of seriously hard work in the pouring rain for those setting up the annual garden and food festival in the Phoenix Park in Dublin the sun finally came out. The show gardens have been transformed from virtual swamps into a dazzling array of colour, scents and not a small amount of sophistication. There are so many things I could blog about, from the design ideas in the show gardens (lots of circles and squares this year); the planting (lots of repetition in the planting types, with the exception of a few such as the two gardens designed by graduates of Landscape Design at Senior College Dún Laoghaire, more on these later) to the food (I ate far too many tasty bits) and the entertainment (sheep shearing a personal favourite). So here is a selection of my highlights.
I think it’s because I have tried unsuccessfully to grow these wonders so many times that I am so in awe of them.
Their presence in many of the show gardens as well as in the indoor pavilion nursery displays demonstrated their sculptural beauty and the vast variety available.
One of my favourite parts of the Phoenix Park (and open all year so no need to wait for Bloom) is the walled garden. Once you enter through these gates you are in a magical world.
One with no slugs and perfect drills of vegetables, fruit and herbaceous borders.
All to the backdrop of the Victorian brick wall which encloses it.
If you have ever dreamed of turning your garden shed (no matter how small) into a retreat then look no further for inspiration than the “the plant hunters retreat “ created by Mount Venus Nursery and located in the Floral Marquee.
Hang up your tool and coat outside and enter a world of peace and tranquility.
With room to read or work you may not wish to re-enter the outside world.
This event is brought to us by Bord Bia and there is a wealth of amazing Irish produce on offer. It’s almost impossible to select just a few items but it is particularity nice to come across companies that you have never heard of before that stick in your mind afterwards.
Watch out for these cheeses from the Little Milk Company, you will be glad you did.
An amazing range of flavoured oils handmade in Mayo and presented in beautiful jars from Wildwood would make a fantastic gift for someone (or yourself!)
This new company Wildabout does a range of products and preserves that not just taste great but have medicinal values too.
While was I munching my way around nibbling on savoury delights my daughter was doing taste comparisons on the various sweet treats available. This spectacular slab of mint fudge from Man of Aran fudge is typical of the large pieces they make before selling it in slices by weight.
Mellas fudge company has the fudge pre-packaged and beautifully boxed. The vanilla flavour got a particular seal of approval.
Washed down with a glass of old fashioned lemonade from Glenilen Farm next it was on to watch a bit of sheep shearing and a lesson on the teeth count of lambs.
Of course this is the highlight of the event. This year there are 23 gardens showcasing the talent of our designers. Of these are two Small Gardens designed by recent graduates of Senior College Dún Laoghaire and I (while declaring that I am a staff member of the college but not this course!) would like to congratulates both the Graduates themselves on their designs and hard work and also their tutors for getting them this far.
The first of these two gardens entitled “An Edible Woodland Garden” by Wayne O’Neill is, in his own words “an attempt to communicate the culinary, medicinal and practical uses of woodland species, in a stylised woodland planting composition” The overall affect is one of a natural woodland setting which will look right at home in Sonairte, the National Ecological Centre in Co.Meath where it will kick start an edible forest after Bloom.
This garden designed by Paul Foley is a plant collectors garden, reflecting the eclectic collection of plants put together by Lord Milo Talbot at Malahide Castle Gardens. From the carpets of specimen plants to the silvery gnarly beauty of the Ecualyptus, the wealth and variety of stunning southern hemisphere plants here is dazzling. I’m not the only one to think this, the Bloom judges awarded this garden a Gold in the Best Small Garden category. Well done Paul!
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By the way tickets are now on sale for the Dublin Garden Festival in Christchurch Cathedral from June 13th-15th 2014 . http://www.dublingardenfestival.com as well as the World Flower Show in the RDS from June 18th-22nd 2014.