Lots of hardy annuals who attended the opening day of Bloom 2015 in Dublin’s Phoenix Park had to duck out of the odd shower of rain but, unusually, nobody complained about the weather.
The President and his wife Sabina did not have to travel far — Bloom is held beside Áras an Uachtaráin.
The five-day event, now in its ninth year, has expanded from a garden show to become Bord Bia’s main consumer show.
Mr Higgins,who said it was his third consecutive visit to Bloom as President of Ireland, waxed lyrical when he visited the showgardens. A lover of WB Yeats, Mr Higgins said his imagination was immediately captured by the gold medal winner: Yeats’ Secret Garden in Sligo.
The garden was designed by Lorely Forrester, also from Sligo, to celebrate the 150th anniversary of Yeats’ birth.
Mr Higgins said Ms Forrester had conjured up the imaginary garden that Yeats had dreamed of while living in “mineral, smoggy” London.
The garden was “in dialogue” with Yeats’ poem The Lake Isle of Innisfree, said Mr Higgins who happily recited the first verse.
Bloom 2015 has 25 showgardens and the overall winner is Jane McCorkell from Kilsallaghan, Co Meath, for her Our Origin is Green Garden.
Ms McCorkell’s large garden design was inspired by a Celtic knot of two dogs found in the Book of Durrow.
The landscape architect and horticultural consultant said her garden showed a confident Ireland emerging after its “reflective period”.
Winner of the medium garden was the Pieta House Garden, Darkness into Light, designed by landscaper Niall Maxwell from Dublin.
“I have created shade on one side of the garden and a sunny side on the other to symbolise the journey that a person might take to get from a bad spot to a better place — into the light,” Mr Maxwell said.
The garden also has a pond to create a sense of calmness and a place where people can sit and reflect on their lives. Lots of people were drawn to the garden as it has a mural on the wall by well-known street artist Joe Caslin.
More than 50 nurseries and florists are exhibiting at the show this year, with the award for best-in-show going to Kilmurry Nursery, run by Orla and Paul Woods from Gorey, Co Wexford.
One of the early visitors to Bloom was Simon Coveney, the agriculture, food, and marine minister. “Anyone who has any interest in the Irish food industry, gardens, gardening, or is just looking for a good day out should be coming to Bloom this weekend,” he said.
“It is full of people with stories, imagination, and great gardens that they have put huge amounts of work and resources into. The weather doesn’t matter.”
Patricia Dressell and daughter Klarissa had travelled from Cork to spend a day at the festival. They are no strangers to Bloom — it was their second visit. Patricia is a “fair weather” gardener while Klarissa is a real gardening enthusiast. “I just love it. It never fails to disappoint. I always leave with lots of ideas,” said Klarissa.
More than 15,000 people were at Bloom yesterday, a 30% increase on last year, and over 100,000 visitors are expected over the bank holiday weekend.