The Dublin Samaritans will be spreading an important message at their postcard garden at Bloom 2022 – that a sliver of hope can even be found in the darkest of times.
The Forest of Hope is one of nine postcard gardens at the festival. These smaller show gardens, which are 2m x 3m, are designed by community groups, schools and charities.
The garden has been designed to raise awareness of the Samaritans’ 24/7 free phone service.
The inspiration behind the postcard garden is the charity’s forever garden, also called the Forest of Hope, in the Dublin Mountains.
For €120 a year, anyone can have a tree planted in their name in the forest and all proceeds go to running the Dublin Samaritans.
Olwyn Greene, who has been a volunteer with the charity for 15 years, said the exciting initiative was made possible by Coillte, which is donating the trees, and the Tree Council of Ireland, which gifted them the land.
“It’s a designated piece of land in the Dublin Mountains, it can’t be visited at the moment because we are only starting. We only launched this at the end of November,” Ms Greene said.
“So, it’s really new, we planted our first symbolic tree in Fitzwilliam [Square, in Dublin] and that was our start.
“Pat Neville from Coillte said, ‘Nobody plants a tree without hope’ and it’s such a fabulous true thing, so we wanted to use that and call it the Forest of Hope.
“For an annual fee of €120 a year you can buy a tree, your name won’t be on it so we can’t promise that – but you can go walk in it and visit it, but it will take us three to five years.
“It’s a long-term project and it’s there for the long haul.”
Ms Greene said she felt so lucky that the charity’s idea for a postcard garden was picked to be featured at Bloom because it was such a great platform to spread the message of the Dublin Samaritans.
“We are terribly lucky, I know a lot of people would have applied for it, it’s a fabulous showcase.
“It raises awareness for us so we really we can’t believe it,” she said.
The garden features a replica phone box, which illustrates the core of what the charity does.
“We came up with the idea of the community green as it’s a small little space, but we are getting as many trees onto it as we possibly can.
“So the green is the community, the trees are our hope, our shelter, the strength of life, and then we came up with the phone box and we are using a replica phone box.
“It’s made out of natural wood and we are going to use it as our emblem everywhere.”
“Our mission is that fewer people die by suicide but we are there for everyone.
“For people who are lonely, for people with financial difficulties. People will talk to a stranger much quicker, they will tell them their problems.”
If you or anyone you know is struggling the Samaritans can be contacted for free 24/7 on 116 123, or by email to email@example.com.