Wednesday 22 January 2020

Green-fingered children ready to blast Bloom invaders

Four Year old Millie Kelly from Raheny pictured with some of the colourful flowers art the Dillon garden in Renelagh
Four Year old Millie Kelly from Raheny pictured with some of the colourful flowers art the Dillon garden in Renelagh

Nicola Anderson and Aideen Sheehan

TOO long admonished for scrumping apples and beheading the prize begonias, children are at last being encouraged to take an active role in gardening that sounds right up their alley.

Invasive species are the bane of gardeners everywhere – but a novel new attitude towards 'aliens' at the Bloom festival will see youngsters being encouraged to "blast the space invaders".

Gardener Fiann O Nuallain – who is taking part in the festival – revealed that the traditional Irish hedgerow is dying out.

Things like giant rhubarb, rhododendrons and Japanese knotweed are taking over – and though some can be attractive, the problem lies with the Irish favourites they are displacing, warned Fiann.

His garden entry for the Bloom festival will invite children to learn to identify these "rogue" plants and to launch a counter-attack by stamping, plucking and – in the very limited cases of edible varieties – even eating them into oblivion.

It is just one of the numerous ways visitors will be expending their energy throughout the hugely successful gardening, food and family festival, which returns once again to the Phoenix Park in Dublin at the June bank holiday weekend.

The Irish Independent is a media partner of the event, which runs from Thursday, May 30 to Monday, June 3, with a pull-out supplement on Bloom featuring in the paper on Saturday May 25.

Some 28 spectacular show gardens will be on display within the 70-acre site, while the popular floral marquee will also return, featuring 50 nurseries along with almost 200 retailers.

Leitrim-based gardener Leonie Cornelius has designed her garden along the theme of "Love Letter to the West," with a modern interpretation of the traditional meadow.

Meanwhile, the late spring is having a big impact on the festival this year, forcing designers to rethink their displays.

At a Bloom photocall in her own private gardens in Ranelagh, renowned plantswoman Helen Dillon yesterday expressed impatience that everything is so slow to bloom this year, claiming the place was not looking its best.

Orla Woods from Kilmurry Nursery in Gorey, Co Wexford, who's charged with growing many of the flowers for Bloom, said the prolonged winter would mean some no-shows – such as the usually ever-present poppies, which will not bloom in time.

However, the upside is that many springtime blossoms will still be on display – with irises, primroses and dicentras – otherwise known as bleeding hearts – making a rare appearance. Tickets for Bloom are on sale now and visitors can book early for discounted rates at www.bloominthepark.com

Irish Independent

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