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Mary will miss Chelsea show as sponsors refuse to dig deep

AWARD-winning garden designer Mary Reynolds will not be able to represent Ireland this summer at the RHS Chelsea Flower Show -- as no one would sponsor her.

Since winning the gold award at the festival in 2002, the Wicklow native has made several TV appearances on RTE as well as US network CNN.

However, in spite of the positive response her success generated, Reynolds has not been able to secure any funding for this year's show.

She is now being forced to undergo the whole process again in a bid to raise the €125,000 necessary to appear at Chelsea next year.

"I hope to get there in 2011 because it's not going to happen for 2010. I need to raise €125,000. I know it's quite a lot of money, but it's very cheap publicity for a company," she said.

"There is no culture of philanthropy in Ireland and, looking back, I shouldn't have focused on Ireland. I should have extended the search to England. No one here is interested.

"It's an interactive garden, and provides a dream of a new Ireland -- because the one we have right now is pretty crap. After six months of searching for sponsors, I gave up. I hate the idea of having to go back and do it all again."

She said she was shocked at how little support she received: "No one even bothered to reply, which is shocking. It's a huge boost for the country and would do wonders for tourism -- all of my pieces are like a little bit of Ireland.

"To even get in to begin with is a big deal, but no one wants to support this. In saying that, I also understand that it's not so easy to just offer sponsorship for anything anymore -- and especially for a garden. But last time it generated such a positive response."

Reynolds's interest in plant architecture and spirituality comes from her childhood on a Wicklow farm, where one of the fields was considered a fairy field.