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Garden lovers finally get to smell the roses as Bloom makes welcome return for first time since 2019

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Designer Niall Deacon from Enniscorthy at his garden Eureka sponsored by Solus Light Bulbs during Bord Bia Bloom 2022 at the Phoenix Park. Picture: Collins

Designer Niall Deacon from Enniscorthy at his garden Eureka sponsored by Solus Light Bulbs during Bord Bia Bloom 2022 at the Phoenix Park. Picture: Collins

Tara Linnane and baby Tegan Kiernan from Cavan at the Reflections garden designed by Mark Hoey at Bord Bia Bloom 2022 in Phoenix Park. Picture: Collins

Tara Linnane and baby Tegan Kiernan from Cavan at the Reflections garden designed by Mark Hoey at Bord Bia Bloom 2022 in Phoenix Park. Picture: Collins

Tara McCarthy, chief executive of Bord Bia, and Kerrie Gardiner, show garden manager of Bord Bia Bloom, present designer Seán Russell with a gold medal for the National Dairy Council Sustainable Dairy Farm Garden. Picture: Fennells

Tara McCarthy, chief executive of Bord Bia, and Kerrie Gardiner, show garden manager of Bord Bia Bloom, present designer Seán Russell with a gold medal for the National Dairy Council Sustainable Dairy Farm Garden. Picture: Fennells

Designer Andrew Christopher Dunne with this Gold Medal and Best in Category Awards for Hit Pause, The Caragh Nurseries Garden, at Bloom 2022. Picture: Fennells

Designer Andrew Christopher Dunne with this Gold Medal and Best in Category Awards for Hit Pause, The Caragh Nurseries Garden, at Bloom 2022. Picture: Fennells

The gold winning Eureka Garden sponsored by Solus Light Bulbs.
 Picture: Fennells

The gold winning Eureka Garden sponsored by Solus Light Bulbs.
 Picture: Fennells

President Michael D Higgins is pictured with designer Ailish Drake at the Sightsavers Gáirdín na gCeadfaí (Sensory Garden).

President Michael D Higgins is pictured with designer Ailish Drake at the Sightsavers Gáirdín na gCeadfaí (Sensory Garden).

Evelyn Shannon from Carnew, Co Wicklow, gives a demo in wool spinning at the Agri Aware display at Bloom 2022. Picture: Finbarr O’Rourke

Evelyn Shannon from Carnew, Co Wicklow, gives a demo in wool spinning at the Agri Aware display at Bloom 2022. Picture: Finbarr O’Rourke

Mairead Fingleton with her children Emer, 4, and Saoirse, 7, from Co Laois at the Woodies Seomra Eile garden designed by Brian Burke at Bloom 2022. Picture: Collins

Mairead Fingleton with her children Emer, 4, and Saoirse, 7, from Co Laois at the Woodies Seomra Eile garden designed by Brian Burke at Bloom 2022. Picture: Collins

People in long queues at Heuston Station for the bus services to the Bord Bia Bloom festival in the Phoenix Park this morning. Picture: Collins

People in long queues at Heuston Station for the bus services to the Bord Bia Bloom festival in the Phoenix Park this morning. Picture: Collins

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Designer Niall Deacon from Enniscorthy at his garden Eureka sponsored by Solus Light Bulbs during Bord Bia Bloom 2022 at the Phoenix Park. Picture: Collins

IT said it all when the morning queue for the shuttle buses outside Heuston Station looked like it was giving the queue for the airport a run for its money.

Bloom is back alright – and it looks to be bigger and buzzier than ever.

On the opening morning of the festival in the Phoenix Park, three first-time show garden designers were awarded gold medals for outstanding garden displays.

Celebrating their bullseye wins were Niall Deacon for his Eureka Garden sponsored by Solus Light Bulbs; Sean Russell’s National Dairy Council Sustainable Dairy Farm Garden; and Seán O’Malley and Oisín Griffin for the Peter McVerry Trust Pathways to Home Garden.

Seasoned show-garden designers Andrew Christopher Dunne and Alan Rudden, meanwhile, took the best-in-category awards for large and medium gardens respectively

While Andrew Christopher Dunne also won the overall large show garden award for Hit Pause, the Caragh Nurseries Garden.

The best-in-category medium show garden was awarded to Alan Rudden for the Savills Urban Oasis Garden.

But it wasn’t all about the medals.

For punters who had descended on the Phoenix Park to enjoy the first Bloom since 2019, it was all about being back in the thick of it and catching up, enjoying a ramble around the show gardens and the food stalls.

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A lot of what was there in the show gardens reflected life over the strange interval in between – with a slower pace and a new-found appreciation for outdoor spaces no matter how small. The quiet joy of managing to keep a plant or two alive came as a bonus.

The festival was officially by the patron President Michael D Higgins and his wife, Sabina.

Perennial fans of Bloom, they took great enjoyment in touring many of the show gardens. They took a moment out on a wrought-iron bench in the Dairy Farm Garden to pose for photographs with designer Sean Russell and his family – who hail from Liscarroll in Mallow, Co Cork, the homeplace of the President’s mother.

In a strong speech, President Higgins spoke of the need to bypass supermarket “loss leader” produce in order to protect the declining industry of commercial vegetable growers in this country – now down to around just 60 farms

He acknowledged that the cost-of-living crisis is a “contradiction” that has to be handled in Government policy, since many people have a limited budget and have to “try and manage a house”.

“This is the test of your policy – how do you combine these two aims? But it can be done.”

The President said he has spoken before about a universal basic income, saying: “You have to solve the income problem in order to get the best results with sustainability.”

He added that we are now at a crisis point in terms of climate change and expressed concern that discourse has changed. Whereas we previously had “a space where we were able to discuss issues”, he added that “commitments were being made but we now have a discourse that’s very heavily militaristic”.

“And I think that anyone who’s serious about what we’re trying to achieve must realise that will, in fact, have a very serious impact.”

Meanwhile, on the Queen of England’s platinum jubilee weekend, President Higgins said he had written to her to “wish her well”. He described her as “a very gracious lady who has made a very significant contribution for 70 years”.

Asked how he would describe relations between Ireland and the UK, the President said: “I think they are difficult, I think they are unnecessarily difficult. I wish they weren’t as difficult as they were.

"Nobody benefits from it and I think what we should be trying to do is to see our way past current difficulties and I believe that it’s very possible to do that.”


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