Bloom 2012 – An adventure in a horticultural playground

Although I was working while I was at Bloom this year, I did find a few stolen moments to meander around the tents and show gardens that were dotted around the Phoenix Park, Dublin. This was the sixth year of the show and welcomed over 80,000 garden enthusiasts.

Bloom

Bloom

For those of you who do not know what Bloom is, it is Ireland’s equivalent to the Chelsea Flower Show in England. The show runs over the June Bank Holiday each year and offers Irish gardeners the chance to soak up inspiration from show gardens created by some of Ireland’s leading landscape designers as well as many up and coming designers. This year there were 27 gardens to inspect, dissect and pull some inspiration from, to bring home to your own garden. As well as show gardens, Bloom also offers food lovers something to wet their appetite with. The artisan food area show cases the best Ireland has to offer when it comes to food. Personally I go to Bloom for the show gardens and the plants on sale… but the food does sweeten the deal! This year GIY had a big presence in the heart of the food market to promote grow your own food to the masses. Grow your own has become extremely popular in recent years and got great attention at the show.

Grow It Yourself display at Bloom 2012

Grow It Yourself display at Bloom 2012

This year I worked at the show with the Irish Garden magazine. My early starts each morning gave me the luxury of looking around the show gardens and stalls before the throngs of visitors arrived. It was like having a horticultural playground all to myself. Of course the designers were running around polishing plants as I wandered around but it still felt as if it was all mine! The show gardens had a magic and sense of serenity as you walked around them at 8 am.

For me the show gardens at Bloom 2012 had a very natural and organic mood. “Stream of Consciousness”, designed by Fiann O Nuallain, was inspired by the story Fionn Mac Cumhaill and the Salmon of Knowledge. The garden looked as if Fiann had taken a piece from an Irish meadow and displayed it a Bloom. The stream, which bisected the middle of the garden, offered great serenity which forced passers-by to slow down and take in its beauty.

“Stream of Consciousness”, designed by Fiann O Nuallain

“Stream of Consciousness”, designed by Fiann O Nuallain

“My Garden” designed by Jane McCorkell also fed the overall feeling of simplicity and a return to gardens of our past. The very traditional layout to Jane’s garden made it so striking. Sitting on a corner, the garden offered a glimpse of a garden many wish to recreate in their own home. For me, one of the ground breaking ideas I took from Bloom came from Jane’s design. Her use of fruit trees trained as an alternative to trellising was brilliant. I plan to eventually recreate this idea in my own garden! She successfully used it to separate a long herbaceous border from an area set aside for growing vegetables – an idea anyone with a small garden could use to maximise space.

“My Garden” designed by Jane McCorkell

“My Garden” designed by Jane McCorkell

The show gardens did offer great modern designs too. The one that stands out in my mind the most is the garden by Alan Rudden and David Ryan entitled “Amach agus Isteach”. Amach agus Isteach is Irish for inside and out, so you can guess this garden offered great ideas for those looking to create a garden that is an extension of their house. Structurally very strong it is softened with cleaver and of the moment planting of alliums and box hedges. The lush greens and purples jumped out as you walked by and seen them against the crisp white of the building. The gardens lines were buffered even more by the towering hornbeam trees that surrounded it.

Show garden “Amach agus Isteach”

Show garden “Amach agus Isteach”

These gardens for me are just some of the gardens and ideas that have me contemplating ripping up my garden to start again with new ideas and plans for what I think I want from a garden. For more information on Bloom and to find out information about the 2013 show visit http://www.bloominthepark.com

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