Everything rosy in the garden as Phoenix Park opens for bigger Bloom


THE STATE’S largest gardening event gets under way today when President Michael D Higgins opens the Bloom festival in the Phoenix Park.

The gardening, food and family event organised by Bord Bia will run until next Monday. Attendance figures jumped by 50 per cent to 90,000 last year, and organisers hope to attract a similar number this weekend.

Bloom takes place on a 70-acre site on the grounds of the visitor centre, and some 2,000 people have been on-site in recent weeks preparing the show gardens, marquees and fencing.

Organisers have provided a more spacious layout this year to cater for larger numbers of visitors. The walkway has doubled in size, and seating space has increased five-fold.

Bloom features 27 show gardens, including the Stream of Consciousness garden which was inspired by a chat designer Fiann Ó Nualláin had with Mr Higgins before he became President.

Other show gardens focus on issues such as emigration and disability.

A garden designed with visually impaired people in mind has waist-high planting, strong scents, running water and edible plants.

The festival will also feature 100 Irish food and drink producers, 40 nurseries, 25 cookery demonstrations and 160 retailers.

The Irish Wheelchair Association is operating a wheelchair borrowing station, and the organisers have worked with the National Council for the Blind to make the event more attractive for visually-impaired people.

There will be free water bottle-filling points across the site to help visitors cope with a hoped-for heatwave. And if the weather takes a turn for the worse, people can seek refuge in the floral and retail pavilion which stretches across 1½ acres.

The popular plant creche is back to relieve visitors of their floral purchases so they can continue browsing.

There will be a number of firsts at the event, including the first ever show garden designed by a child. Miah Ní Nualláin (10) from Crumlin, Dublin, has designed a pet-friendly garden complete with a giant bone.

The festival will also host the first Guinness Book of Records attempt by Grow it Yourself Ireland. The gardening enthusiasts will be attempting to break the world record for the most people sowing seedlings at the one time.