Where great ideas for gardens bloom and grow
BARACK and Michelle Obama aren't the only presidential high fliers to turn to the soil -- Ireland's first family are also keen on growing their own.
President Mary McAleese revealed yesterday that the example of Bloom had inspired her family to start growing vegetables at their Roscommon home.
Opening the gardening extravaganza at the Phoenix Park, the President said the only problem was the spectacular gardens on display could make you dissatisfied with what you had at home.
"Inspired by Bloom the first year, my family have started growing vegetables at home in Roscommon. I'm particularly proud of the fact that the men in my life have now learned how to do straight potato drills," she said.
After a "really tough winter", nature was again proving how tough she was, but there was no doubt the event would inspire many, even if it was just to grow some basil in a pot in their kitchen, Mrs McAleese said.
Up to 60,000 people are expected to attend Bloom over this weekend with queues forming even before the event was formally opened yesterday.
Advance bookings were also double the level of last year, said Aidan Cotter, chief executive of Bord Bia, which organises the event.
The downturn had forced them to work harder to get sponsors, and many gardens had had to work closely with their backers, but the standards of judging remained rigorous, he said.
Chelsea Flower Show judge Andrew Wilson and gold medal winner Mark Gregory were among the judges who awarded medals yesterday.
The winner of the Best in Show category was Jane McCorkell of Kilsallaghan, Co Meath, whose lush "Rain Garden" aimed to show how you could harvest the rain to supply your garden.
Designers were facing a tougher time during the recession but it did mean a more thoughtful approach to what people wanted, she said.
"The upside is that people are at home more, they're not jetting off to Portugal for the entire summer so they're more interested in what they've got in their garden, they're spending a lot more time in it," she said.
Paul Doyle's Specsavers Garden: "Eclipse 2010" won the overall prize in the medium garden category while the winner of Best Overall Small Garden was "Beauty & the Bees", aimed at attracting threatened honeybees, created by 3Design and Roisin de Buitlear.
In total some 25 gardens have been created for Bloom with another 50 horticultural displays, aimed at showcasing what can be done with even the smallest space.