PRESIDENT Michael D Higgins opened the Bloom festival with a clarion call for all gardeners and local authorities to join the fight against “catastrophic climate change” in Ireland.
President Higgins, accompanied by his wife, Sabina, perused the show gardens at the Phoenix Park in Dublin before pausing at perhaps the most sustainable spot of all at, the ‘Fingal Bee Positive’ garden.
President Higgins said: "If you think of all we have lost, even since 1990, the huge destruction of species, particularly insects.
"To think we could lose up to a million species globally in 20 years, it’s a biodiversity crisis and it affects not only the life of the pollinators but food production and the food chain.
"I decided this year to spell it out, to relay to people who come to Bloom - that in their gardens, they can take a great effort to cumulatively come together."
President Higgins later gave a heartfelt speech, striking at the heart of the severity of a climate emergency felt implicitly by the young generation.
Garden and nature lovers combined could play a "role" in "tackling catastrophic climate change," President Higgins said.
But more importantly, he added, it was those in charge of local policies who had to take action.
President Higgins directed that action was needed regarding the treatment of hedgerows, trees, banks and ditches.
These natural greenland quarters "provide a precious multi-functional resource in our countryside," he said "benefiting plants and wildlife, agriculture, water quality, flood mitigation, tourism and the general community...
"Data from 17 County Hedgerow surveys indicate only one third of hedgerows are in a favourable conservation state due to inappropriate management...
"I’d very much like to see concerted effort across all local authorities to redress this situation and indeed to implement a shared plan for our pollinators."
"I hope after the local elections, all the new and not so new councillors coming in, will take up this agenda and make sure it's at the heart of the local authorities' plan,” he added.
“Thinking ecologically and responsibly, are not abstract words anymore."
Gary Graham, the creator and manager of Bloom, was delighted with the turnout at the festival in its 13th year.
"It's even better than last year," Mr Graham said. "We've had 11 Gold medals out of 22, so half of the gardens received a Gold - that's phenomenally high, the highest number of gold medals we've ever had.
"Ultimately we want people spending money on plants, that's good for everyone here, good for their lifestyle, good for the environment, good for the bees - but really what we care about is we want a strong horticultural industry in Ireland.
"I defy anyone to spend a day here and not be inspired by what we do. When you see what our designers can do, it's inspirational.
"It would be hard not to be concerned by the environment if you're a gardener but the problem is not everyone is a gardener.
"The traditional approach to gardening was to tame nature, create a manicured space and that goes back to Victorian times.
"That's changed dramatically with people saying they might let the grass grow longer and create a habitat. People realise now they can have a different approach, to be closer to nature, as many of us lost the connection.”
Winner of the overall show garden award went to Dublin-based Alan Rudden, for his majestic Vina Dona Paula (A Matter of Altitude) garden sponsored by Santa Rita (Dona Paula).
Mr Rudden, a multiple Bloom Gold medal winner, said: “I created depth, escape and a lot of show gardens don't do that and I think the judges like that.”
The garden designer, who has his own gardening business, even travelled to Mendoza, Argentina last September for inspiration.
“I watched how families dine outside together every night and that inspired me. It’s something we should do here more.
"I also went to a tango class for the craic but I have to say I was rubbish."