Bloom in the Park 2019: Climax of the Irish horticultural year

See the Bord Iascaigh Mhara marine garden and 22 other sensory delights this weekend

Oliver Schurmann in his  Aqua Marine Garden at Bloom Show Gardens in the Phoenix Park, Dublin, which runs until Monday. Photograph: Dara MacDónaill

Oliver Schurmann in his Aqua Marine Garden at Bloom Show Gardens in the Phoenix Park, Dublin, which runs until Monday. Photograph: Dara MacDónaill

 

The first underwater garden arrived at Bloom this year to signify the problem of plastic waste in Ireland’s oceans.

While most of the installations at Bloom in the Park 2019 revealed pristine soil and land-based horticulture, Bord Iascaigh Mhara’s (BIM) marine garden was awash with plastic items that have turned up on Irish shores. A 30,000 litre truck made two trips to the west coast to collect some of the purest water in the world from the ocean near Co Mayo, for the design’s giant rock pool.

One of the garden’s designers, Oliver Shurmann, who has presented his work at Bloom every year since its inception, said this piece was his most challenging to date.

“I thought this would be a simple operation, but it certainly wasn’t,” said Shurmann. “You are working with live animals and the sea water is alive too; it’s full of plankton.”

Highlighting land destruction is Trócaire’s Guatemalan-themed garden

The rock pool is intended to highlight “something incredibly valuable, clean and undisturbed”, Shurmann continued. Suspended above the “garden” are fishing nets, to represent the role fishing men and women play in reducing plastic in the oceans. BIM encourages Ireland’s trawlers to deposit ocean waste they collect in their nets to one of 12 ports in which the organisation operates. More than 330 tonnes of marine waste has been collected through the voluntary Fishing for Litter scheme.

Highlighting land destruction is Trócaire’s Guatemalan-themed garden created by last year’s winner, Cavan-based designer Barry Kavanagh. Stolen Land aims to show a “unifying” connection between the Irish and Guatemalan people where eviction has plagued both communities down the generations.

In the central American section, palm trees represent the land taken from indigenous people for palm oil plantations. Shields lie at the base of the trees, as a critique of the authorities that support multinational conglomerates over local communities. A Mayan art statue places Maria, a Guatemalan girl who was on this year’s Trócaire box, at the heart of the piece. In the Irish portion of the garden is a thatched cottage with 1847 inscribed on the wall, drawing ties between Ireland’s plantation period during the famine and Guatemala today.

There is not much difference between our dark past and their dark present

Kavanagh said he was “delighted” to work with Trócaire again this year and felt particularly “connected” with the issue as an environmentalist. “There is not much difference between our dark past and their dark present,” he told The Irish Times. “This year it is about land and environmental affairs. The environment is part of who I am so I immediately was interested by the brief.”

While environmentalism played a big part in this year’s collection, other gardens showed the sensory benefits of horticulture for people with mental health illnesses or dementia. Now in its 13th year, Bloom 2019 opens on Thursday and will showcase 22 miniature gardens over the bank holiday weekend.