Kerry furniture designer Tricia Harris stretched the idea of a ‘room outside’ to an entire house at this year’s Bloom festival that opens today.

Tricia jointly designed the Space to Collaborate garden, one of the 22 show gardens demonstrating excellence and innovation in Irish design at Bloom in Dublin’s Phoenix Park.

She worked with Dublin architect Seamus Furlong to create a garden sanctuary that offers a relaxing social space where experiences can be shared and ideas explored.

Overhead wooden structures represent the fluid nature of people’s working and social life and there is a workspace in one corner.

Both Tricia and Seamus have studios in The Chocolate Factory in King’s Inn Street, Dublin, now the home of many small businesses and individuals.

Ellen and Olivia Foley, the daughters of Strawberry Beds garden designer Maeve O’Neill. Picture: Chris Bellew /Fennell Photography
Ellen and Olivia Foley, the daughters of Strawberry Beds garden designer Maeve O’Neill. Picture: Chris Bellew /Fennell Photography

“Some of the pieces in the garden are from other Chocolate Factory residents so it has given us an opportunity to showcase their skills as well,” Tricia said.

“During the five-day festival, the maker’s bench will be used so people can see the garden being brought to life and how it can be used.”

Judging of the gardens started yesterday, and Tricia’s was one of the small gardens to get a going over for the competition.

Cellist Jenny Dowdal performs at at FBD Insurance’s Transition at Bloom in Phoenix Park, Dublin. Picture: Julien Behal
Cellist Jenny Dowdal performs at at FBD Insurance’s Transition at Bloom in Phoenix Park, Dublin. Picture: Julien Behal

“I have been to Bloom before but this is my first time as a competitor. The judges focus on the planting – the position of the planting and the plants chosen.

“We were examined against our own design brief. The judges wanted to know if we achieved what we set out to do.

“We did not have a major sponsor so we were working with a relatively small budget but we did have people who gave their time and product. We are very, very, proud of what we have achieved.

Minnie explores the Dogs Trust garden. Picture: Fran Veale
Minnie explores the Dogs Trust garden. Picture: Fran Veale

One of the bigger gardens unveiled yesterday was Ireland’s first dog-friendly garden by Dogs Trust.

It features a host of simple, innovative ideas to provide fun and stimulation for dogs while maintaining the garden as a safe relaxing area for the whole family.

The dog-friendly garden is the first initiative in a campaign by Dogs Trust to help make Ireland the “best country in the world to be a dog”.

The garden is the work of a multi-award winning designer, Brian Burke from Portarlington, Co Laois. Brian shares his garden with his wife, Julia, their five children, a donkey, two pigs, four chickens and two dogs.

“I love the idea that any garden can include simple fun and stimulating ideas for dogs while still being a safe and happy environment for the whole family,” said Brian.

Left to right: dancer Sophie Maycock, Amaar El Khachia, Sanvi Patra, Mackenzie Ockchinski Quigley, Alexander Samaniego Escobar, and dancer Ava Maycock at Goal and Oxfam Ireland’s ‘A World Beyond Walls’ garden. Picture: Leon Farrell / Photocall Ireland
Left to right: dancer Sophie Maycock, Amaar El Khachia, Sanvi Patra, Mackenzie Ockchinski Quigley, Alexander Samaniego Escobar, and dancer Ava Maycock at Goal and Oxfam Ireland’s ‘A World Beyond Walls’ garden. Picture: Leon Farrell / Photocall Ireland

The garden has water features, sniffer paths, different textures, tunnels, climbing and digging areas. It also features a vegetable garden and a broad range of traditional and lesser known dog-friendly plants and herbs.

It will also have plenty of dogs. While dogs are not allowed access to the event, the organisers have made an exception this year for some of the very special dogs from Dogs Trust.

Another garden sure to get a lot of attention is Trócaire’s show garden that will highlight its work with communities fighting for their land rights in Central America.

It will be Trócaire’s first time at Bloom and its garden-with-a-conscience also features a live art installation. Director of Trócáire’s international programmes, Séan Farrell said there were two distinct areas within the garden designed to show the ongoing struggle that many indigenous people are faced with while defending their land.

“Being an environmental defender in Central America is very dangerous with two people killed every week defending their land, forests and waterways from big international business,” said Mr Farrell.

“In 2015 there were 185 people murdered defending their lands, forests and rivers in 16 countries across the world: the deadliest year on record.”

Oxfam Ireland and Goal used their garden space at Bloom to present their vision of a world without walls.

Constructed by another multi-award winning designer, Niall Maxwell from Dublin, it is a welcoming and vibrant social space with seating formed from sections of an old wall, which will still be visible at the back of the garden.


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