Higgins: Gardeners the 'canaries in our coal mine' as they have suffered effects of climate change

Higgins: Gardeners the 'canaries in our coal mine' as they have suffered effects of climate change
Michael D. Higgins and Sabina Higgins were presented with a bouquet of wildflowers and a packet of pollinator-friendly flower seeds to thank him for the work he does highlighting biodiversity loss. Picture: Gary O'Neill

Gardeners could be the “canaries in our coal mine” because they already see the effects of climate change, President Michael D Higgins said at the opening of the Bloom festival.

He warned that climate change is the biggest threat facing humankind and that there is “nothing abstract” about it: “We can see its effects already taking place in our gardens. Indeed, gardeners could be the canaries in our coal mine."

President Higgins said everyone can play a part in making our living habits and our environment more sustainable.

The way gardens were laid out and the types of plants and trees that were selected all contributed to supporting wildlife and enhancing biodiversity.

He also urged gardeners and horticulturalists to use organic forms of fertiliser to limit the negative effects on the climate and natural environment.

President Higgins is hopeful that younger people who are voicing their concerns about climate change will help change attitudes and behaviours: “I think this time there is a chance of everybody together, in their own different way, making a real difference.”

President Higgins also hopes that all of the newly elected young and not so young councillors will take up the green agenda and make sure it is at the heart of plans made by their local authority.

He is particularly concerned about native hedgerows because they play a hugely important role in biodiversity and in the mitigation of climate change. Data from 17 county hedgerow surveys indicate that only one-third of hedgerows are in a favourable conservation state.

I would very much like to see a concerted effort across all local authorities to redress this situation and indeed to implement a shared plan for our pollinators.

He also wants to see steps taken to reduce the risk of erosion and flooding. In practical terms, this means choosing natural surfaces that allow soakage and minimise run-off after heavy rain.

After the gates opened for the 13th annual Bloom festival in the Phoenix Park, Dublin, Bord Bia announced that the highest ever number of gold medals has been awarded to the show gardens.

A total of 11 gold medals were presented to show designers and the overall award went to landscape designer, Alan Rudden, for his Argentinian-themed garden.

Called A Matter of Altitude, the garden was inspired by a recent visit to Mendoza, Argentina, the home of its sponsor Dona Paula (Santa Rita).

Mr Rudden, who now has six gold Bloom medals, said the judges liked the way visitors can go inside his garden and feel they have escaped from the crowd.

He said:

The plants are the freshest they have ever been here - we have had so many heavy downpours and high temperatures over the last number of days and they have been a godsend

A show garden created in collaboration with people impacted by mental illness won the Best Planting Award.

Sponsored by the pharmaceutical company, Janssen, in association with Aware and See Change, the garden was created to grow the conversation around mental illness.

Landscape architect, Maeve O’Neill, originally from Limerick but now living in Dublin, said she chose plants that are sensual and lush: “The idea I had in terms of planing was to excite, delight and take your mind off any bad feelings or thoughts that you might have."

Bord Iascaigh Mhara’s (BIM) Aqua Marine Garden designed by Oliver and Liat Schurmann won the Best Concept Garden award.

The 22 show gardens were rigorously inspected by a team of seven independent expert judges over two days.

Mark Gregory, a judge at Bloom from the start, said there were more gold medals awarded this year because the standard is getting better.

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