Since the first show in 2007, Bord Bia has grown Bloom to become the largest showcase of food, drink and horticulture in Ireland. Today, Bloom spans over 70 acres in the Phoenix Park and this year includes 20 show gardens, 13 postcard gardens, 50 floral and botanical art displays, 200 retailers, over 100 food and drink producers and more than 100 live talks, demonstrations and family friendly activities.
So if you're heading to Bloom, where do you begin? There is just so much on offer! Here Paraic outlines his top 5 show gardens, not to be missed, at Bloom 2018.
Our Lady's Children's Hospital, Crumlin Garden
Designer: Kieran Dunne and Anthony Ryan
First up is "Our Lady's Children's Hospital, Crumlin Garden", sponsored by Kildare Growers. It is a 100% Irish garden, with all plants in the garden grown in Ireland. There is something special about this garden. It serves as a place of solitude and a sanctuary for an individual living a hectic lifestyle. It is a space for relaxation, in a beautiful, tranquil and peaceful environment. The gardens design provides an opportunity to escape undisturbed in the evening. It is a place to unwind, relax, reflect and enjoy the peace in the garden. The garden is simple in style. Its main feature is a recessed alcove covered with a tilted disc canopy, providing a covered retreat. In a hectic world, this garden provides an escape and allows one to realign with nature.
Marie Keating Foundation SunSmart Garden
Designer: Monty Richardson and Peter Cowell
Second on our list is the Marie Keating Foundation SunSmart Garden. This vibrant yellow and orange garden has been created to raise awareness of the fact that skin cancer is the fastest growing cancer in Ireland. It is bright and colorful, eye-catching among the maze of marvelous gardens. A large, yellow balloon rises high above the garden, representing the sun. It draws attention to the garden, creating intrigue and curiosity. UV rays bounce off the sun, demonstrating their pervasive nature, even on cloudy days.
The garden's meandering path and planting reflects the cancer journey, which includes a tranquility corner where cancer patients can take time out during their treatment. A large oak tree represents the end of the cancer journey. It offers shade from the sun and an opportunity for visitors to 'tie a yellow ribbon around the old oak tree'. This allows them to show their support for those affected by skin cancer. Overall, the garden tells a compelling and informative story - one not to be missed!
Moments In Time - Dementia: Understand Together Garden
Designer: Dementia Friendly Garden Team
The "Dementia: Understand Together" was another of Paraic's favourite at Bloom 2018. The garden draws on a strong, evidence-base of dementia-friendly design and the lived experience of dementia. It facilitates understanding, togetherness and connection with nature. Upon entering the garden you are greeted with a short multi-sensory walk, which evokes the senses and evokes memories. This walk leads to a central seated area, sheltered by a grove of trees. Along the garden walls, a gallery depicts photographs of family, social rules and community life in Ireland.
Throughout the garden, there are visual cues and prompts, which helps to evoke memories for the person living with dementia. This provides guidance and support, while physical objects act as focal points for communication. The garden reflects a message of creating an Ireland that embraces people with dementia as active members of their communities. It is a powerful message, in a gentle garden. The way in which the garden uses nature to support a person living with dementia is truly inspiring, establishing the importance of pioneering and visionary thinking.
Life Is Rosé By Santa Rita "Living La Vida 120"
Designer: Alan Rudd
Next up is the "Living La Vida 120" garden which brings a flavour of Chile to Bloom. It is a contemporary space which blends arid and Mediterranean planting with strong architectural forms. The plants in the garden were chosen as they thrive in Chile, but can also withstand the Irish climate. The garden is designed around Santa Rita's commitment to 'making people's moments enjoyable'. Testament to this is a secluded seating area, perfect for enjoying a glass of wine al fresco. It is a beautiful garden in a tranquil and secluded space. Notably, it emphasizes the importance of spending time with loved ones - one of the may reasons it is worth visiting at Bloom 2018.
Fruit Juice Matters Garden
Designer: Kevin Dennis
Last, and definitely not least, on our list is the "Fruit Juice Matters Garden", sponsored by Fruit Juice Matters. It is a garden designed as a sanctuary for young professionals. It aims to support a healthy life, featuring multiple spaces for exercise, relaxation or entertainment with family or friends. In addition, it features an indoor space that can be enjoyed all year round. It is a bright and colurful garden, featuring intricate and intriguing architectural lines.
That's a wrap on Paraic's top 5 gardens at Bloom in the Park. But, as mentioned above there is so much on offer at Bloom 2018. There really is something for everyone.
Are you interested in Bloom in the Park? If so, just follow us on Facebook where we will be sharing news and updates as they happen. If you're lucky enough to be attending the festival, make sure you visit the Garden Expert stage where Paraic will be presenting on Saturday, Sunday and Monday, more info here.