As temperatures in the high teens coaxed families away from Wimbledon and GAA coverage to the Mallow Home & Garden Festival, experts were overwhelmed with queries about saving plants and hedges.
Gardener Peter Dowdall, about to start filming the second series of How to Create a Garden for RTÉ, said half the questions he fielded over the weekend were about the impact of last winter’s exceptionally cold weather.
He said: “Up to now, it has been a question of ‘wait and see’, because none of us has experien-ced these kind of temper-atures before in Ireland. Some fuchsia and other hedges are beginning to come back, but the advice to a lot of people has been to replace hedges with different varieties.”
But while that might prove good news for bus-inesses like Mr Dowdall’s Dunsland Garden Centre in Glanmire, Co Cork, he said his and many other centres had also seen huge amounts of stock des-troyed by the freezing conditions last winter.
He was among a number of experts, including the Irish Examiner’s gardening columnist Charlie Wilkins, giving free advice to those at the Mallow Racecourse event, which ran from Friday to yesterday evening.
Organiser Alan Collins said the 25 landscaped gardens were the biggest attraction as home owners are deciding to spend money doing up their houses and gardens rather than buying new property.
“The DIY and home improvement exhibitors are also thriving, and we expect to have hit the 40,000 mark by [last night], up around 40% on last year’s visitor numbers,” Mr Collins said.
The exhibition included everything from practical considerations like energy-efficient heating systems and bathroom suites to hi-tech sound systems, jacuzzis and the latest electrical products for the home and garden.
With free entry for children and plenty of entertainment for visitors of all ages, as well as cookery demonstrations and big screens to show all the live sporting action, the organisers were glad of a strong public response.
But for Mr Collins, the biggest praise had to go to the ‘the man above’ for providing sunny skies and warm temperatures.