Fresh from my visit to RHS Chelsea Flower Show, I headed out to the garden to start the big clean up. I have a big garden so I decided to start with the flower bed that visitors would see as they come down the drive. A large white shrub rose is in bloom along with a Viburnum Watanabe. My eye is drawn to the vibrant burst of white blossoms so I assume other eyes have the same experience. Somewhere I read that it was a good idea to put a lot of the same coloured plants together for a dramatic effect. I’m beginning to see these bold statements coming to fruition. Within minutes I have found five tiny gooseberry plants amongst the white Shasta Daisies that will bloom in the next few weeks. That’s the beauty of not touching your garden for long periods. Once I have started I’ll keep at it. I’m trying to do an hour every day.

Then Tim asked if I’d like to go to Bloom. I immediately agreed wanting to compare Chelsea with Bloom. We set off bright and early on Monday morning. We collected Breda, our friend who had also expressed an interest in going. She and I had gone together other years before COVID-19. The road was quiet and we were on our way into the Phoenix Park by 11am. Once inside, I was struck with the sheer size of the offering. It dwarfed Chelsea several times over! Everyone was in flat shoes and runners! Fashion travels faster than most other things. We made our way to visit the show gardens. Even though there was a big crowd, there was engagement with the creators. I could go around several sides of any garden and really see it. They were really lovely. Rewilding and rough planting was a feature of the gardens but not quite as extreme as Chelsea. Many of the gardens had a dug down feature to facilitate wetter and wild flowers. That’s something that can be created quite easily.

My favourite

The overall winning garden was called Hit Pause, the Caragh Nurseries Garden designed by Andrew Christopher Dunne. It featured a lot of sculpture with stone walls and polished surfaces around a still and square pool. Certainly beautiful but more suitable to formal houses and urban settings. A garden is a very personal thing and I’m thinking of how I can transfer the ideas to my own garden when I’m viewing them. So that makes me walk past some. I liked the Gold Medal, National Dairy Council sustainable dairy farm garden featuring native trees and wild flowers and an interesting looking wire cow! The messaging was good showcasing how farmers are proactively working together to improve biodiversity and lower the carbon footprint of Irish Dairying. The designer was Sean Russell, a new designer to Bord Bia Bloom. This garden had a dug down feature and illustrated how cows and wild flowers and native trees can exist together.

My favourite garden was the Enable Ireland Respite Garden designed by Robert Moore. It was awarded a Silver Medal. It illustrated inclusion and spatial awareness in the garden area. It featured a water feature that was accessible for wheelchair users. It used colourful wheels and paint in an imaginative way. It had lots of flowing grasses and multi coloured plants.

Bloom is enhanced by the Victorian Walled Garden maintained by the Office of Public Works. It is a joy to visit. The whole experience of gardens, restaurants, food trucks, artisan producers, arts and crafts, information stalls, innovative vendors and all sorts of garden and flower displays made for a wonderful day out. The sunshine added an ambiance of a carefree summer ahead.

Johnstown Garden Centre

We dropped into Johnstown Garden Centre on the way home and picked up a few of the nice plants we’d seen at Bloom. I guess that’s the way the system works. Bloom showcases the industry and then we dig into our pockets to support our hobbies. There’s nothing like gardening to quiet a racing brain and restore equilibrium after a busy day or week. After all that, we stopped at the Bailey Hotel in Cashel for our dinner. It was, as always, scrumptious. And now, it’s back to weeding! Bord Bia Bloom is back and long may it continue.

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