Queen praises ‘brilliant’ visit to Ireland and hints at return

THE Queen described her historic state visit to Ireland as a “brilliant” experience as she was presented with a rare orchid named in her honour.

The monarch’s trip to the Republic last week was hailed as a phenomenal success and the royal even hinted she may return.

During a tour of the prestigious Chelsea Flower Show she revealed her thoughts about the visit to Irish gardener Diarmuid Gavin, who created one of the more outlandish exhibits of the show — a floating garden pod.

He was stopped by the Queen soon after she was presented with the Queen Elizabeth II orchid, the only one of its kind, grown in her honour by a Taiwanese team of gardeners.

Gavin said he joked with the monarch during their chat, adding: “I said to the Queen: ‘Thank you for coming to Ireland and as a reward I brought my garden over.’ She said: ‘I had a brilliant time.’”

He was overseeing the demonstration of a 52ft- long hanging garden pod — the first floating garden at Chelsea — which was being raised and lowered 82ft on an enormous crane at the centre of Fáilte Ireland’s Irish Sky Garden.

Those lucky enough to enjoy the full experience of the garden step into a pod — named the Wonkavator — sit on a traditional garden bench and attach themselves to a harness before take-off.

Gavin said: “The garden is inspired by Ireland so it’s very, very green and inspired by fantasy films like Avatar and Edward Scissorhands.

“You go wandering along a path onto a Willy Wonka-style garden that lifts you up into the sky.”

The flower show, which sold out in record time, opens to the public today and is set to draw the stars, such as Barbara Windsor, Terry Pratchett and Helen Mirren, who is launching a flower named in her honour.

Vanessa Redgrave will also launch a new rose this year, in memory of her daughter Natasha Richardson who died after a skiing accident in 2009.

Yesterday, film star Gwyneth Paltrow helped to launch B&Q’s show garden, which focuses on “growing your own” food and contains the tallest structure ever at Chelsea — a glass tower block-like building complete with window boxes full of vegetables.

Today will also see designer Shane Connolly, whose floral displays for the royal wedding included a series of trees in Westminster Abbey, demonstrating how plants can be used on different occasions.

Other exhibits include a plot with the largest trees ever to be brought in to Chelsea and a Korean entry which makes a toilet the central feature.

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