Bloom flourishes to become key social event

Garden festival continues to evolve and innovate, says President

Fiann Ó Núalláin, designer of the Tao of Now, with President Michael D Higgins and his wife Sabina at the Bloom Festival in Dublin.

Record 24 gold medals awarded to best show gardens and nurseries

Ireland’s biggest garden festival, now firmly embedded in Ireland’s social calendar, was opened yesterday by President Michael D Higgins.

President Higgins, patron of the five-day event, did not have to travel far, as Bloom is held beside Áras an Uachtaráin in the Phoenix Park.

The President, accompanied by his wife, Sabina, arrived at the 10th annual Bloom show in glorious sunshine and made a beeline to the 23 show gardens.

President Higgins said the Bord Bia-sponsored event, now synonymous with the beginning of summer, has flourished into a world-class garden show and a celebration of the best of Irish food and produce.

“This year, Bloom continues to evolve and innovate. The new ideas and initiatives which we can encounter here today are impressive,” said President Higgins.

A record number of 24 gold medals were awarded to the best show gardens and nurseries.

All of the judges were bowled over by the exceptionally high standard of this year’s show gardens, as were those who have visited the show every year since it first opened in 2007 for a feast for the senses.

First class pupils of Ms Stoutt’s at St John the Baptist NS, Midleton, Co Cork, celebrate at Bloom yesterday after they were announced as the winners of the country-wide GIY and Innocent Drinks ‘Sow and Grow’ competition

University College Dublin — new to Bloom — won a gold medal for its ‘Evolution of Land Plants’ garden designed by Dr Caroline Elliot-Kingston and Nicola Hynes.

President Higgins said Ireland’s first evolutionary garden allowed visitors to stroll through the unfolding history of plants across a billion years. As well as being a richly creative experience, it enabled a deeper understanding of the diversity of species.

The president said the garden demonstrates the importance of combating climate change and the need to preserve our fragile earth and hand it over in good shape to future generations.

“Bloom always manages to address the relevant issues of our times,” he said.

A section of the crowd at Bloom yesterday

Ms Hynes said the garden illustrates the evolution of land plants from the first freshwater algae 600 million years ago up to the flowering plants we know today.

“We wanted people to get up very close to the plants. We were given three weeks to build it on-site, but a lot of the key elements — the timber frames, the ponds, and panels — were made off-site.”

The project that took six months to develop and will go on permanent display on the UCD campus where it will serve as a valuable educational tool.

Ava McElduff,10, from Stradbally

President Higgins was also impressed by the “Damascene design” of Goal’s Syria Garden, one of the 13 Silver medal winners.

“The ‘fault line’ delineating pre- and post-civil war Syria depicts the tragic devastation that has been visited on the people of Syria,” said Mr Higgins.

“It’s strong deportation of the enforced departure of one family from their homeland speaks evocatively of the responsibilities of our shared humanity, our human rights obligations and how such obligations must never be weakened by narrow and short-term self-interest, xenophobia, or even apathy,” he said.

Seven-year-olds Ella Phillpott, left, and Ellie Maguire, pupils of St John the Baptist NS in Midleton, Co Cork

President Higgins also revealed that there is a beehive in the garden of Áras an Uachtaráin and, as a result, he said he was delighted that visitors to Bloom could learn how bee-keeping could have a profoundly positive effect on the environment.

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