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Blooming brilliant in the park

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Olivia Ball (L) and Sarah Cummins (R) re-enact a scene from The Wizard of Oz at Garden at Bloom in The Park. Photo: Colin O'Riordan

Olivia Ball (L) and Sarah Cummins (R) re-enact a scene from The Wizard of Oz at Garden at Bloom in The Park. Photo: Colin O'Riordan

Olivia Ball (L) and Sarah Cummins (R) re-enact a scene from The Wizard of Oz at Garden at Bloom in The Park. Photo: Colin O'Riordan

THE peonies and pansies are in place, Dorothy and Toto are prancing about and the garden-istas are in line.

This year's spectacular Bloom festival runs until June 3 at the Phoenix Park and the blossoming flower show has an eclectic mix of gardens on display.

There are retro orange caravans, African-style clay houses, an astro-turf Emerald City and water features filled with cranberries.

And after weeks of slaving away, green-fingered gardeners are enjoying a chance to put their feet up as the festival opens today.

"This is the fun part," designer Mark O'Loughlin said. "Watching people enjoy it."

Mr O'Loughlin has created a Wizard of Oz garden complete with a yellow brick road, tornado and wicked witch.

"In five days' time, we'll tear it all up and chuck it in the skip – that's always the hard part," he said.

Pals Alan Rudden and Dave Ryan have created A Cranberry Gallery By Ocean Spray, a multi-level garden with shallow pools filled with plump red cranberries.

"There's over 60,000 cranberries in there and we have loads round the back, so we're not too concerned about people eating them," Andrew said.

Fiann O'Nuallain's garden Destination Bloom has a flying saucer embedded in a slope.

"My garden is about invasive species," he explained, "plants that take over and kill other plants. In Ireland that's a real problem.

"That's why I went for the spaceship – to get that sense of being invaded by a foreign species."

Mr O'Nuallain has also invited 'cos players' to inhabit the space.

'Cos players' are groups of grown men who like to dress up as characters from video games and cartoon strips.

But if spaceships sound a little gimmicky, rest easy. There are plenty more traditional gardens on display.

Leona Cornelius's A Love Letter To The West celebrates the beauty of Leitrim and is filled with foxgloves, irises and ferns.

"It's so nice finally to have it done," she said.

"Especially after all the slopping about in mud. I wanted to try to recreate the atmosphere and the spirit of the west of Ireland. I brought all the mosses and ferns, so I feel at home."

Bloom is a family-friendly festival and has lots of children's zones, a tree-climbing competition and picnic areas.

And for foodies, there are tons of tasty treats available.

Tickets are €20 and children go free.

See competition, page 22


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