Sunday 21 January 2018

Bloom - no better place to be at this time of year

By Andrew Collyer - Practical Gardening

Andrew Collyer.
Andrew Collyer.
UCD Evolution of Land Plants garden at Bloom.
The winning garden at Bloom 2016.

Lower your mower blade to your summer setting

It has to be Lychinis flos - cuculi- Ragged Robin

Is there any better country in the world for the gardener than this one when we have a spell of weather like last week. You could grow broom handles in weather like that. And is there any better place in Ireland to be for the gardener than the Phoenix Park during the Bloom garden festival weekend.

In its current format Bloom has been running for ten years and it seems to be going from strength to strength and by the look of the crowds it is ever more popular. The amount of hardwork and honest endeavour that goes into the show deserves admiration.

The trick with these busy garden shows is to arrive by mid morning and take your time to look around. If you have time constraints your'e under pressure and extra hassle all day. That's the key, intend to stay all day to get the most out of it. For most visitors gardening is a leisure activity and a visit to Bloom should be a leisurely activity, stick around until four o'clock and the festival site takes on a much more relaxed atmosphere as the early crowds disappear.

This being a landmark tenth year I know that an extra effort had been made all round with the both the show gardens and in the floral pavilion with the general quality up on previous years.

The show is a great show case for some specialist growers with fine displays of primulas [Peninsula primulas], fuchsias [Fuchsiavale nursery] and ferns [Kells bay nursery]. Harrington Exotic displayed a huge variety of cactus and succulents that left you wondering at times if you were looking at animal, vegetable or mineral.

Devine nurseries had a lovely display of Eremurus [Foxtail lilies] that I thought deserved better than a bronze medal and I was delighted to see that Hughes roses had got some flowers on display this year, last year their stand was nearly devoid of blooms, and they were rewarded with a gold medal.

Papervale trees had an interesting stand showing off many small examples of the trees they grow, trees seem sadly over looked at the show so I was glad to see they were ploughing their own furrow. Kilmurry Nurseries were up to their gold medal winning habits again with their display worthy of The Louvre. And I was delighted for new comers Springmount Garden Centre who acheived a gold medal at their first attempt.

Outside in the show gardens one has to marvel at the logistics involved in implementing these gardens. The 'de rigueur' seemed to be for sunken areas and wooden structures with some rusting metal thrown in for good measure. The overall winner was the Santa Rita garden that was designed as a Chilean courtyard, Santa Rita is a wine from Chile, and was by far the best example of work on display.

The hard landscaping quality was excellent and the planting was thoughtfully carried out. The Irish Country Magazine garden had the best planting in my opinion showing more variation than most gardens, trees and shrubs as well as herbaceous plants. The Yi garden-Chinese in style was lovely but not for me personally.

The UCD Evolution of land plants garden was thought provoking as I felt it refelected the ten years of the festival itself. It displayed bare rocks and soil first then journeyed through moss and ferns and in different phases developed into a modern planting scheme. Like the festival from humble beginings to something quite wonderful.

My one gripe is the planting in the show gardens, its very samey and a little insipid often lacking any real structure. If I never see another Lychinis [Ragged Robin] that's just fine by me.

What the show does best is to promote horticulture and gardening in Ireland and for that I am eternally grateful.

Wexford People

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