Bloom gardening festival 2013, Bord Bia, Phoenix Park, Accommodation near Phoenix Park Dublin
Visitors to the Bloom gardening festival which opens on Thursday will see an explosion of colourful plants and flowers but might not realise the efforts taken to save the plants from the recent bad weather.
The unseasonal weather has slowed down growth and frosty nights have killed off some plants and flowers. However, the people behind Bloom’s 28 show gardens have taken no chances, according to festival manager Gary Graham.
He said most plants had been two or three weeks behind because of the weather so they were brought under cover and put into tunnels and glasshouses to protect them from the elements.
“Even trees were being brought inside,” he said. “Big trees were brought in under big tunnels and glasshouses. They are protected, fed and watered and nurtured and preened. They really do mind them better than babies because they can’t take a chance when it comes to something like Bloom.”
He said most of the plants had caught up because of the special treatment. “There are huge quantities of really good-looking plants coming in now, ready to come up. Visitors will be amazed because they won’t have anything like this in their own gardens yet.”
Mr Graham said weather was always a big issue for people preparing show gardens as they had to time their plants to be in full bloom for the five days of the festival. “If they are too far ahead they are putting them into fridges to slow them down. They are wrapping flowers in tissue.”
This will be the seventh year of the Bord Bia festival, which attracted more than 80,000 visitors last year, despite a very wet Sunday. Mr Graham said he believed it could attract up to 100,000 this year, if the weather held up. Several thousand visitors are expected from abroad in a gathering of gardeners, after Bord Bia offered 1,000 people the chance to bring between four and 10 people from abroad to Bloom free.
Preparations for the show began on the 70-acre site in the Phoenix Park a month ago and hundreds of people are now on site, working on the show gardens and displays and marquees. The park’s most famous resident, President Michael D Higgins, will open the festival on Thursday and Taoiseach Enda Kenny is also expected to attend. It will run until Monday.
As well as 28 show gardens, this year’s event will include several concept gardens such as one by Fiann Ó Nualláin and Lisa Kelly, which is described as “ a witty B-movie interpretation of Ireland’s alien invasive species”.
The award-winning Garden of Plenty designed by Eugene Boyle began life at the 8th Festival Internacional de Jardins de Ponte de Lima in Portugal last summer, where it was voted best design by visitors. The concept garden, which is collaboration with the Wood Marketing Federation, features more than 50 varieties of vegetables, fruit and herbs supported and enclosed by timber and timber products, sourced from sustainably managed forests.
The festival also includes five amateur gardens and a floral marquee with 50 nurseries and almost 200 retailers. A botanical art exhibition will feature the State’s top botanical artists.
Artisan foods and craft beers and spirits will be on sale from more than 100 Irish food and drink producers.
And chefs such as Neven Maguire, Catherine Fulvio, Martin Shanahan and Donal Skehan will hold more than 25 cookery demonstrations.