It opened yesterday in the Phoenix Park, Dublin, and with amenity horticulture now worth some €2 billion to the economy each year, it is expected to attract up to 60,000 visitors up to and including Bank Holiday Monday.
Hosted by Bord Bia, it includes 30 show gardens from Ireland’s top horticultural talent, with a larger and even more spectacular floral pavilion featuring the best of Irish plants and flowers
Bloom project leader, Gary Graham of Bord Bia, put Ireland’s age-old love of gardening in context as the gates opened on this year’s display on a 70-acre site serviced by two kilometres of specially installed pathway.
“Horticulture is an all-encompassing science underlying our very existence. It is vital for the food we eat, and the grass on which we feed our livestock and on which we play our national sports.
“So, while Bloom provides a catwalk for new design and a fun family day out it also reminds us of the importance of plants and gardens. Even the smallest city gardens and apartment balconies have a role to play,” he said.
Gardens of all sizes and shapes have been created at the event, which President Mary McAleese will officially open today.
Visitors will include 600 school children from around the country.
Some of the gardens have been inspired by orchard paths, the classical styles of Italy while others have white-washed walls, water features, sculptures, bamboo and timber decking.
The Gingko tree, a living fossil that can be traced back over 200 million years and has survived everything man has thrown at it — including the atom bomb — is highlighted in one garden.
Another uses friendly plants to ensure a garden environment suitable for allergy-prone families.
There are displays suitable for large spaces and for small urban plots that provide havens of peace.
Fáilte Ireland’s garden, created by Fiann Ó Nualláin, drew its inspiration from the wealth of gardens open to the public in Ireland.
It is aptly called The Book of Welcomes garden because some 610,000 of the 7.5 million overseas visitors to Ireland last year visited gardens, while one-fifth of all domestic holiday-makers did likewise.
Kerry Earth Education Project (KEEP), based at Gortbrack Organic Farm, Ballyseedy, Tralee, is demonstrating the huge possibilities of using school grounds as an educational resource to learn about organic food production and the importance of bio-diversity.
The Living Classroom, commissioned by Bord Bia and sponsored by the Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food, represents a large diversity of habitats and growing areas, including a vegetable patch, herbs and flowers, native woodlands and hedges.
And, with a title like Bloom, there just has to be a Joycean link.
It is provided by elegant chairs and seating specially designed for one large garden by Paul Doyle, Rathgar, Dublin, and given the splendidly apt overall title — Ulysses.