Five-day treat in a 70-acre gardener’s paradise

SOMEBODY once wrote that gardeners are women who love flowers or men who hate weeds.

Well, both categories were in a paradise of flowering beauty and weed-less harmony at the opening of Bloom 2010 at the Phoenix Park in Dublin yesterday. The Bord Bia co-ordinated event is a showpiece for the country’s €717 million amenity horticultural industry.

Consumer sentiment and the interaction between horticulture, food and the environment are the themes for the five-day event which has attracted 150,000 visitors since it was first held in 2007. The venue is a 70-acre Office of Public Works site opposite Áras an Uachtaráin, where the manicured gardens and flower beds are now in full bloom.

President Mary McAleese, who officially opened the event, said Bloom has in four short but brilliant years become the summer event for gardeners and gourmets, for families and friends looking for a fantastic day out and for inspirational sights and scents.

“The spirit of Ireland at its best is to be seen and felt here – and as our economy at last begins to rally and our citizens’ sacrifices secure the future, this is a place to experience real pride and hope in our beautiful country and in ourselves,” she said.

Paraphrasing the words of Rudyard Kipling, the President said gardens are not made by sitting in the shade. But most people could easily imagine themselves whiling away happy, idle hours in the shade of Bloom’s beautiful gardens as many tens of thousands will do over the weekend.

“The resilience and generosity of nature are evident here as well as the common sense attached to growing as much of what we eat as close to home as possible,” she said. Pointing out that there is a wonderful organic garden at the Áras, she said Bloom had inspired herself and her family to start growing their own vegetables at their home in Roscommon.

Bord Bia chairman Dan Browne, chief executive Aidan Cotter and Gary Graham, Bloom manager, accompanied the President on a tour of the showpiece, which was also visited by the Ambassador of the People’s Republic of China, Liu Biwei.

It has, of course, been a difficult year for all gardeners due to the winter damage caused by frost, snow, and high winds. But they will flock to Bloom in their thousands over the weekend in anticipation of seeing vibrant and intricate designs in the 25 large, medium and small gardens.

They will be overawed in the floral pavilion featuring 50 displays and the best of Irish plants and flowers.

Every green fingered visitor will be well aware that birds can be a real pest in a veggie patch, and at Bloom they will learn the best way of keeping them away is not some hi-tech gadget but the traditional scarecrow.

A national competition to design and build a miniature scarecrow to keep crows and other birds out of the Bloom garden built by GIY – Agri Aware Incredible Edibles was held recently.

It was won by 12-year-old Hannah Casey, Fenore national school, Co Clare. She will be at the event tomorrow with her award winning scarecrow.

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