Farm Ireland

Tuesday 21 November 2017

Horticulture is on the map -- if you can find it in CityWest!

Joe Barry

Joe Barry

Have you ever tried to find your way around CityWest? Recently, as I drove around in ever-increasing circles trying to find the exhibition centre, I had time to wonder at the lack of basic directions on many Irish roads.

Each year that excellent group of nurserymen, the Kildare growers, hold a show to present their products to the horticultural and amenity trade and, in previous years, this event was held in the easily located Punchestown racecourse.

For some reason, perhaps known only to Bord Bia and the organisers, this time everything was relocated to CityWest.

Travelling with growing anger and frustration, I was reminded of the Sandyford Industrial Estate, that other black hole that swallows drivers like the Bermuda triangle, never to be seen again.

Twice I asked for directions, only to be met with a sad shaking of heads as the locals all denied knowledge of where my destination might be.

What is so difficult about placing simple signs at the motorway exits and at each roundabout from there on?


Eventually, I phoned one of the exhibitors who guided me to the centre and who told me he had driven for many miles the previous evening on the same quest. Both of us agreed that the lack of signage was a disgrace and this was echoed by other stand holders I spoke to following my eventual arrival.

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Coincidentally, the last time I wrote on a horticultural show was for the Bloom Festival in the Phoenix Park and thanks to some convoluted traffic management they also managed to send numerous drivers in every direction except the correct one. It must be something to do with flowers. Maybe the organisers smoke them.

When I eventually arrived, however, things improved rapidly, for the stands were up to the usual high standard, although perhaps not on the scale of former years.

This is only to be expected as the horticultural industry must be sharing at least some of the pain the rest of the economy is enduring. But gardening is not just a hobby as more and more people seek out a means of passing their spare time usefully and inexpensively.

Most garden centres are finding that sales are holding up better than anticipated and, as the dole queues lengthen, more jobless citizens are turning to digging, weeding and planting as a way of both producing food and getting through the day. It makes lots of sense to use every available inch of soil and grow food and flowers, keep fit, reduce the shopping bills and cheer up the home surrounds.

Many allotment providers are inundated with requests and have waiting lists of anxious and optimistic gardeners. This, of course, mostly applies in the vicinities of our larger towns and cities but it is a welcome trend and nice to see so many people getting off their backsides and making the best of often reduced circumstances.

Enrich Environmental was one of the many innovative stands. The company's peat-free horticultural products are now in great demand for home gardening and the horticultural and landscaping industries.

It is a relatively young company recycling green materials, which formerly ended up in landfill, into high grade, top-soil compost mixes for the garden. It just shows how a good business will identify a problem and turn it into an opportunity.

During the composting process, the raw material is heated to 65°C, ensuring no weed seeds survive. It is then graded and blended to produce a wide range of end products including vegetable topsoil, mulches and even a lightweight soil mix for roof gardens.

Overall, despite my difficulty in finding the exhibition centre, I did enjoy the show, and the layout of stands was good with the tighter allotted spacing giving a feeling of bustle and activity.

There was definitely less machinery on display but this is to be expected. Most people haven't the money to buy new ride-on lawnmowers and rotovators and many are now instead exercising themselves with a spade and shovel.

Who needs to go to a fitness centre when you can keep healthy and trim in the garden?

Or you can always take the other option and just talk about gardening over a pint and buy your veg at the local farmers market. Both are rewarding occupations.

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