Concept gardens stole the show at marvellous Bloom
At 7.45am on the opening day of the Bloom show in the Phoenix Park, I made my way from the already busy car park to view the show gardens before the main crowds arrived.
The place was buzzing with people rushing to and fro, putting the final touches to stands and even then, all the information tents were staffed and ready for the inevitable frantic activity that was to come over the next five days.
They say that success breeds success and certainly Bloom has developed remarkably since it was first held in 2007. The quality of the stands and the overall standard of Irish produce on show improve each year. There genuinely was something for everyone, especially in the marvellous floral pavilion where the various nurseries exhibit and are judged.
One could spend hours wandering from stall to stall and it is nigh impossible to resist the temptation to purchase some of the many striking and unusual species on offer.
In the early years of Bloom I had found the show gardens disappointing with a heavy emphasis on the use of artificial materials such as glass, concrete and steel.
Nowadays, garden designers have moved more towards the use of natural and recyclable materials for the hard landscaping and also to include a food element where fruit and vegetables are grown in harmony with the flowers, trees and shrubs.
Having carefully viewed all of the gardens, two of them stood out from the rest for me and I was delighted to see both won gold medals in the Concept Garden category.