Life Homes

Wednesday 27 August 2014

Fancy gardens, food and fun set to bring 115,000 visitors to Bloom festival

Aideen Sheehan

Published 29/05/2014 | 02:30

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Emma Laura Skelton from Drogheda takes it easy at the Samaritans' garden. Photo: Collins
Emma Laura Skelton from Drogheda takes it easy at the Samaritans' garden. Photo: Collins
Ashleigh,Matilda and Isabel Kiernan from Lucan at the launch of the 2014 Bloom festival
Fiann O Nuallain garden doctor with his design called 1st place at Bloom in the Phoenix Park, Dublin. Photo: Collins
Fiann O Nuallain garden doctor with his design called 1st place at Bloom in the Phoenix Park, Dublin. Photo: Collins

It's the weekend where even armchair gardeners will be picking their way through the peonies and rooting among the roses for a flash of inspiration.

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Ireland's biggest festival of gardening opens to the public today with President Michael D Higgins making the short trip from his home next door to be one of the first visitors to Bloom 2014.

Garden designers have been putting the finishing touches to their creations which will be inspected by up to 115,000 people over the next five days.

They've had just three weeks to transform a green field on the 70-acre site in the Phoenix Park into a riot of colour.

But it's not just about the planting, as many of the 30 show gardens are a serious or playful reflection on challenges of modern living.

The Samaritans' 'You Talk, I'll Listen' garden with its sunken courtyard and lush greenery offers passers-by a chance to step out of the busy whirlwind of modern life and take time to breathe a little, said its designer Andrew Christopher.

Meanwhile, prize-winning designer Tim Austen was thrilled as youngsters inspecting his Glanbia Barretstown garden started hammering out tunes on its makeshift musical instruments.

From its Hobbit House to secret passwords and an iconic red door, the garden is designed for maximum inter-actitivy and will be transplanted in its entirety to Kildare- based Barretstown after Bloom finishes.

Barretstown is celebrating 20 years in existence during which time it's hosted 27,000 seriously ill children at its residential camps, and brought the camps to many more through its outreach programme to hospitals.

"This will be a lovely legacy for us as many more children will get to play in the garden in the future," said Barretstown chief executive Dee Ahearn.

Show co-organiser Mike Neary of Bord Bia said that planning for the show had been under way since October, with extra space around big attractions like the food village to make it easier for people to get around.

Celebrity chefs Neven Maguire, Donal Skehan, Kevin Dundon and Catherine Fulvio will be cooking up a storm in daily demonstrations while visitors can also attend fashion shows.

Entrance costs €20 for adults on-site and €13 on weekdays and €16 at weekends for pensioners and students, but you can buy tickets online at reduced rates. Child entry is free. Car parking costs €5 but drivers should note the Ashtown Gate will be closed until the end of the show on Monday.

There's a free shuttle bus between Heuston Station and Bloom, while it takes 20 minutes to walk from the Luas or bus at Parkgate Street. There's bicycle locking facilities beside the entrance.

Irish Independent

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