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Bloom gears up for a Wizard flower festival

IT took plenty of green fingers and just a smidgeon of child-like imagination to create this year's wonderful world of plants.

After three weeks of back-breaking, perfection-seeking work, those garden designers will today learn the fate of their creations at the hands of the judges as Bloom 2013 throws open the gates.

Traversing the green lawns of Dublin's Phoenix Park, visitors can bask alongside tranquil mini Leitrim lakes or perhaps take a trip along the Yellow Brick Road to see what treasures they may find.

Landscaper Mark O'Loughlin revealed budding gardeners may enjoy the colourful trip through his 'Wizard of Oz Sanctuary' garden.

Yet, lurking beneath the colourful surface a tale awaits those with a few more years under their belts

"There is another level to it. It was a satire in the first place, written in 1899 after a big drought in the mid-west states and there was a mini-bank crash there," uttered the fairytale inspired father-of-two Mr O'Loughlin.

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Leonie Cornelius from Leitrim with her exhibit 'A Love Letter to the West' exhibit at a preview of the Bloom show

Leonie Cornelius from Leitrim with her exhibit 'A Love Letter to the West' exhibit at a preview of the Bloom show

Colin Keegan, Collins Dublin

Olivia Ball as Dorothy in the 'Wizard of Oz Sanctuary Garden' exhibit at a preview of the Bloom show

Olivia Ball as Dorothy in the 'Wizard of Oz Sanctuary Garden' exhibit at a preview of the Bloom show

Colin Keegan, Collins Dublin

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Leonie Cornelius from Leitrim with her exhibit 'A Love Letter to the West' exhibit at a preview of the Bloom show

"You can go as deep as you like – the Yellow Brick Road is gold, Oz is ounces, a measurement of gold," he said.

The book's author was questioning the private companies controlling the "central banks", he revealed. And there was a 'For Sale' sign to be spotted in the garden.

INVASIVE

Just a few yards away, there were Latin names of "alien" plants tripping off the tongue of Fiann O Nuallain, whose colourful UFO, crashed in the centre of his 'Destination Bloom' garden, was certainly getting people talking.

"The garden is about invasive plant species, there is a big alien spaceship that has crash-landed the party at Bloom and from its dome are creeping out all of the "alien" invasive species that are costing the Irish exchequer so much money and our ecology so much damage," he said.

Nearby, graphic designer turned horticulturalist, Gerard Mullen, left, was hoping for a hat-trick of gold medals with his Waterford Harvest garden.

"They still had to kick me out of here at 11 o'clock last night," confessed the gardener, who set native grey willow, along with iris plants, against ultra-modern materials to deliver his stunning creation.

Only metres away, Wicklow man Tim Austin's towering 32 hornbeam trees were catching the eye, neatly surrounded by beautiful cottage-style plants from Gardenworld, Kilquade.

"Our biggest day was 17 hours putting those beautiful trees in," he said.

"You are looking at about 600 or 700 hours' work – if I was to pay myself for that I'd be a wealthy man," he joked.

Fresh from the acclaimed Chelsea Flower Show, gardening guru and judge, Mark Gregory, said those planning to visit Bloom over the coming days would be greeted by an "incredibly good" standard of show gardens.

The Irish Independent is the official media sponsor of Bloom, Ireland's largest garden festival. Tickets start from €12 to €20 for weekend tickets, with children entering free.

Irish Independent