Bloom 2014 opened under rain-filled skies in Dublin’s Phoenix Park but the weather did not put off its patron, President Michael D Higgins, from doing the honours.
The President did not have to travel far — Bloom is held beside Áras an Uachtaráin.
The five-day event, now in its eighth year, has expanded from a garden show to become Bord Bia’s main consumer show.
Love Irish Food brands, with annual sales of over €50m, will be taking part in the festival. Some 15 member brands employing around 3,000 people between them will be featured.
President Higgins, who visited Bloom with his wife, Sabina, described it as a festival of scents, colours, and flavours that announced the delights of summer.
Bloom 2014 has 28 show gardens with special space allocated to several concept gardens by some of Ireland’s most talented designers.
President Higgins and his wife, like most of the visitors, made a beeline for the show gardens to meet medal winners, designers, and judges. The umbrellas were pulled down while the couple posed with Kevin Dennis, from Raheny, Dublin, who won a gold medal for his Green City Life Garden.
“It’s all about urban greening — bringing plants into cities,” said Mr Dennis.
“We’ve got the roofs and walls planted — a selection of trees, natural grasses, and perennials, all contrasted against a graffiti wall, steel, and concrete.”
The gardening enthusiast, who won a silver medal at Bloom last year, said the event allowed him to challenge himself to see how good he was.
The medium-size garden gold winner — You Talk, I’ll Listen — was designed by Andrew Christopher Dunne for the Samaritans.
Mr Dunne said he tried to create a calming and relaxing social space where people would have room to breathe.
“It is a sunken garden so it immediately cradles you and the simple planting palette of three colours — green, white and a little touch of crimson, slows you down,” said Mr Dunne.
Among the first visitors to Bloom were Eamon Daly and his wife Belinda, from Balbriggan, Co Dublin, who, like the plants, were being hardened off by the weather. “We come every year and I really think the show gardens are looking a lot better than previous years. I think this is the best year yet, despite the weather,” said Mr Daly.
Mary O’Sullivan from Lisselton, Co Kerry, was also impressed. “I wanted to come here on the opening day to escape the crowds later on in the weekend.”
Around 100,000 people are expected to visit Bloom.