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Getting ready to bloom


Glen Lynam working on a Woodies Garden. Photo: Kyran O'Brien

Glen Lynam working on a Woodies Garden. Photo: Kyran O'Brien

Glen Lynam working on a Woodies Garden. Photo: Kyran O'Brien

TOWERING castles covered in AstroTurf, spaceships embedded in hilly slopes and tango dancers tapping their feet – this year's Bloom Festival is shaping up to be the most eclectic yet.

Now in its seventh year, the five-day festival kicks off next Thursday, June 30.

"We had over 80,000 people here last year and we expect even more this year," Bloom show manager Gary Graham told the Herald.

"This is like a gardening catwalk show. But it isn't just for the 'garden-istas' it's for families, too.

"Chelsea Flower Show is for hardcore horticulturists but we're about getting families involved and interested."



It's certainly a family-friendly event; tickets are just €20 and kids go for free.

At the moment, the festival area at Phoenix Park is a building site, with gardeners in day-glo jackets laying down pansies and paving slabs.

"They've been here since the end of April. It takes a lot of time and planning to get everything just right in time for the visitors," Mr Graham explained.

"There are 28 gardens all together and there is a great mix – from African style huts to '70s- style mobile homes. We will even dave some tango dancers here tapping away."

But Mr Graham says when it comes to crowd-pleasers – you can go wrong with a splash of colour or a water feature.

"People come to see colour. Flowers are always big. And everyone loves water features because they are so dramatic. People like drama."

And you can't get more dramatic than Fiann O'Nuallain's garden, Destination Bloom.

A large flying saucer lies embedded in the side of a Hobbit-style hill with wild rhubarb and rhododendron sprouting out of the top.

"It's about invasive species," Fiann explained. "Plants that take over and kill other plants.

"We want to get a 1950s retro feeling in the garden, so we're encouraging people to come dressed in Mad Men-style clothing."

Meanwhile, Mark O'Loughlin has taken his inspiration from The Wizard Of Oz and has constructed a giant Emerald City, as part of the Wizard Of Oz Sanctuary Garden.



A castle with turrets is covered in artificial grass, pre-loved wendy houses form Munchkinland and the tinman waves at passers-by.

This year, a lot of the gardeners were left scrambling for new plants due to the late blooming.

"Everything is flowering about a month late. Some plants just won't be in bloom – foxgloves, for example, are out," Gary says.

"But this is show business for flowers – the show must go on and you have to improvise and pick new plants."

But regardless of the lack of blooming buds, there are tons of other attractions; family zones, a music area and food fairs.

"It's 15 acres and there is so much to do and see – I always tell people to come early and spend the day. You will need at least four hours to take everything in," Gary says.

"We have lots of celebrity chefs, including Neven Maguire and Donal Skehan, coming down and rustling up food."