Monday 23 September 2019

Fairy Gardens and sylvan doors cast their spell at Bloom festival

Rachel Wood with one of her Fairy Gardens ahead of the Bloom festival at the Phoenix Park, Dublin, next week
Rachel Wood with one of her Fairy Gardens ahead of the Bloom festival at the Phoenix Park, Dublin, next week
Kirsty Blake Knox

Kirsty Blake Knox

Minuscule hinged doorways have been decorating the bases of trees in back gardens and Irish forests for more than a decade now.

The queen of the Fairy Doors in Ireland is Rachel Wood.

She has been "involved in the fairy business" for 10 years, first fashioning Fairy Dolls before moving into the more lucrative door market. Now she is branching out again with Fairy Gardens.

Miniature sylvan gardens nestle in pot plants with tiny washing lines and small pieces of furniture. Ms Wood thinks the appeal of Fairy Doors and Gardens are manifold.

"It encourages children to use their imagination, gets them outside and away from iPads and TV screens," she said.

The doors are equally popular in the US and UK but have run into difficulties.

In 2015, in Somerset hundreds of fairy doors in Wayford Woods, Crewkerne were removed to curb the "profusion of elfin construction".

Happily, there has been no such mass eviction in Irish woods.

Ms Wood is one of hundreds of exhibitors to take part in Ireland's largest gardening festival, Bloom, which runs May 31-June 4 in the Phoenix Park.

"I will be showing kids how they can make their own Fairy Gardens in their parents' flower pots," she said. Once they have constructed their garden, children can make their way to 'The Enchanted Wood', which features a Dr Seuss-inspired treehouse.

For many attending Bloom, the highlights are the 20 show gardens, which cost €1m.

They touch on contemporary topics such as urban living, gender inequality, mental health disorders, sustainable fishing and biodiversity.

Planning for Bloom started 12 months ago.

The 70-acre site takes seven weeks to build, with 700 construction workers setting up stages and carrying wheelbarrows of earth into place.

This year, Universal Studios will host a Greek-style garden inspired by Abba songs to celebrate the cinema launch of 'Mamma Mia, Here We Go Again!'

In the food village, chefs including Neven Maguire, Catherine Fulvio, Paul Flynn, and Oliver Dunne will hold food demonstrations.

Now in its 12th year, Bloom is the brainchild of Gary Graham.

Mr Graham also works as a judge on RTÉ's 'Super Gardens' where he has been dubbed 'Simon Trowel'.

"You are building a whole world and starting from scratch each year," Mr Graham said.

Irish Independent

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