Chinese garden gift plants seed of friendship between two capitals
THOSE searching for their inner 'zen' will soon have a new place to contemplate their spiritual side.
While Ireland has exported the likes of Enya, Riverdance and U2 to China in the past, the Chinese government is giving us a classical garden based on designs dating to the Song Dynasty 1,000 years ago.
The 'Ire-Su' garden -- which is on display at the Bloom festival in Dublin -- was designed by workers from the Suzhou Garden Bureau, which looks after nine famous UNESCO-listed gardens in China.
Yesterday, the Chinese Ambassador to Ireland, Liu Biwei, was among the visitors to the show and, specifically, the Chinese garden.
Parts of the garden will be relocated to St Anne's Park in Raheny, Dublin, after the festival as a gift to coincide with Dublin's twinning with Beijing in 2012.
"The garden can introduce the Chinese culture and the garden culture to our friends," Mr Biwei said.
Yesterday was the first official day of the festival in the Phoenix Park in Dublin.
There were those sauntering around who knew their stremmacantha from their lupinus -- and plenty who didn't.
"Does that withstand frost?" pondered one woman as she peered into the Asthma Society's allergy-free garden.
Surrounded by mountain ash trees and blooms, etno-botanist Fiann O Nuallain was telling scores of visitors that people with asthma or hay fever can enjoy "floral abundance", by planting female trees instead of male.
Nearby, Mick Breen, who is living in a Salvation Army apartment, said taking part in building the homeless charity Focus Ireland's show garden made him feel "wanted again".
"A couple of years ago I lost my job and soon after I had a mental breakdown. It was a really difficult time," the Dubliner said, after 'A Place of Belonging' won a silver gilt award.
Over at the overall 'large garden' winner, Ian Kelly, who worked with designers Oliver and Liat Schurmann from Mount Venus Nurseries in Dublin to build 'To The Waters Edge', said simple materials had been used to create the ecologically-friendly sunken seated area inside of a pool of water.
"It just goes to show what you can create with simple materials," he said.