No gloom at Bloom as visitors flock to a bright green festival of flowers
The heatwave may have abated but that certainly hasn't deterred tens of thousands from all over the country, from attending the Bloom festival in the Phoenix Park.
The festival, officially opened by President Michael D Higgins on Thursday, runs until tomorrow. The organisers are hoping to match last year's visitor figure of 90,000.
"Obviously, we would like to attract similar numbers but I care more about the quality of the experience, and the feedback so far is that it's the best-ever Bloom," says Gary Graham, Bloom show manager, adding, "you can't help but be struck by the amazing atmosphere. It may sound trite, but there's such an air of positivity. Everyone is smiling, enjoying themselves. There's no gloom at Bloom."
This year's event, which has been billed as even bigger and better, includes 27 show gardens, 100 Irish food and drink producers, 40 nurseries and 160 retailers, all on a 70-acre site. The food village is three times bigger than last year's.
On Thursday morning, a total of 81 medals were awarded, including 24 gold, 14 silver gilt, 22 silver, 17 bronze and four special commendations. The overall large garden category award went to Jane McCorkell from Killsallaghan, Co Meath, for her entry, Growise My Garden.
Meanwhile, 10-year-old Miah Ni Nuallain, who is the youngest garden designer at the event, won a silver medal for her Reigning Cats and Dogs garden.
Irish gardeners are riding high at the moment after the success of Dunshaughlin florist Jenny Murphy in winning a gold medal and Florist of the Year title at the Chelsea Flower Show last month, where Diarmuid Gavin also won an award for Most Creative Garden with his Tower, pictured below.
Following his Government's referendum success, Taoiseach Enda Kenny made an appearance at Bloom at lunchtime on Friday. The Chinese Ambassador had also popped by the previous day.
Proving that Bloom is as much about food as it is flowers, Bord Bia, in association with Failte Ireland and Tourism Ireland, hosted Ireland's first International Food Bloggers' Picnic on Friday.
Irish food bloggers were joined by bloggers from Belgium, the UK and France. The group were able to share information and ideas.
Yesterday, celebrity chefs Neven Maguire and Donal Skehan hosted cookery demonstrations.
Children, for whom entry to the festival is free, are well catered for with their own specific fun-filled area which includes an animal farmyard and a garden school.
The floral marquee, which showcases the very best of plant and floral nurseries in Ireland, has proved a big attraction. As always, gardening enthusiasts got in early every morning to buy the best plants on offer, before leaving their purchases in the "plant creche" to be carefully babysat for the day as they enjoyed festivities.
Tomorrow, Grow It Yourself Ireland is hoping to establish a new Guinness world record for the most seedlings planted in the shortest time.
Bloom 2012 runs until tomorrow at the Phoenix Park, Dublin.