Bloom's the bee's knees for a passionate President
Ireland's biggest flower and food festival opens with a host of inspiring gardens for visitors
President Michael D Higgins made a passionate plea to protect the environment while joining the first wave of visitors at Bloom in the Park.
Ireland's biggest flower and food festival, which opened yesterday in Dublin's Phoenix Park for its 11th year, showcased 22 meticulously crafted gardens and more than 100 food and drink stalls.
While certainly not the sunniest of days, the President and his wife Sabina took time to visit each garden on display.
They began their tour at the Our Lady's Children's Hospital Crumlin Garden, which featured a grand piano nestled between brightly coloured flower displays.
The winners in each category were revealed, with a Connemara coastal garden scooping the top prize for best large garden.
Created by veteran Bloom duo Oliver and Liat Schurmann, the FBD Insurance 'Transition' garden aims to capture the essence of the Irish coast, with a sophisticated water feature creating a stunning tidal effect. The couple have been a fixture at Bloom since the festival's inception in 2007 and have amassed seven awards.
Inspired by the "magical" Connemara coast, the 'Transition' garden features a body of water that alters depth on a regular basis to mimic tidal patterns. The water falls to reveal hidden islands in the glistening pool, then rises and obscures them once again, leaving tide marks on the jagged rocks surrounding the enclosure.
According to Mr Schurmann, marital teamwork is the secret to the couple's stunning Bloom success.
He said: "We work very closely on them together. We throw out ideas, we bounce the ideas off each other and we shape it up to a super garden. And that's the great thing we have, that we have each other and that we can do it."
Bríd Conroy, a first time Bloom competitor, took home a silver gilt medal for her fun design. Showcasing a 'Despicable Me' themed garden, Ms Conroy said she was "absolutely thrilled" to be awarded on her first year of entry.
The festival saw a large turnout on its first day, with the 70-acre site filling up fast as the morning wore on.
Taoiseach Enda Kenny arrived just after lunch, making what was possibly his last public appearance as Fine Gael leader.
Mr Higgins has been a busy man these past few days but took time out with his wife to tour the incredible gardens.
But with all the incredible sights on show he was taken by one of the smallest displays - a tiny bumblebee.
Our photos show the 76-year-old President helping the tiny flying insect, much to the delight of his wife.
One eyewitness said: "He came across this bee in one of the gardens and it was like he was trying to help it out of a tight spot.
"He wasn't afraid it would sting him at all. Sabina was loving it."
Later the President made no hesitation in expressing his passionate views on climate change.
"It is now estimated that over 50pc of the world's population lives in cities and urban areas," he said.
"While such cities produce 75pc of the world's GDP, they are also, unfortunately, responsible for 75pc of our global carbon emissions.
"Actions implemented at the level of cities are critical in our fight against global climate change, and this year as we experience the joys and pleasures of Bloom, let us reflect on the importance of good planning, of creating cities that are responsive to the lives and needs of both their natural environment and their citizens."
The festival runs for five days and includes live music, art exhibitions and children's shows.