Bloom to focus on growing your own

Sustainability, local food, and ‘grow your own’, are central themes to this year’s Bloom festival, which will take place in the Phoenix Park, Dublin, over the June Bank Holiday weekend.

Ireland's top horticultural talent will deliver elaborate displays and the best in cutting edge garden design. Bloom 2010 will include 25 large, medium, and small show gardens, which will be complemented by a spectacular floral pavilion featuring 50 displays and the best of Irish plants and flowers. Both the show gardens and the floral displays will be judged by international independent judging panels, including Chelsea Flower Show adjudicator Andrew Wilson. Gold, silver gilt, silver, and bronze medals will be awarded based on strict guidelines addressing both horticultural skills and design superiority. In 2009, 51 medals were awarded.

GIY Ireland, a network of grow-it-yourselfers, has joined forces with previous Bloom medal winner Fiann Ó Nualláin to create a totally edible garden for this year’s show. “The garden is designed as a classic suburban garden to show visitors just how much GIY-ing can be done in that environment and how a productive suburban vegetable patch can also be an attractive garden,” said Michael Kelly, founder of GIY Ireland.

GIY-ers nationwide are currently growing vegetables for the Bloom exhibit. Supporters in Ballinasloe are busy growing peas for the edible garden; red onions will come from Boyle, Co Roscommon; leeks have been assigned to the Carrick on Suir contingent; and the people of Kilmacthomas, Co Waterford, have been charged with producing the perfect potatoes. In total growers from 52 locations around Ireland are currently cultivating more than 50 different types of vegetable in time for the Bloom harvest. The same group of growers and volunteers will also be involved in the construction of the edible garden.

Locally grown fresh produce and plants will feature strongly at Bloom 2010. Bord Bia’s “Best in Season” fresh produce marquee will promote the consumption of fruit and vegetables and highlight the nutritional benefits of eating the recommended daily amounts. The feature will include a fabulous display of the full range of fruit and vegetables grown by Irish producers. Helpers will be on hand to provide information on Ireland’s fresh produce industry and to highlight what is best in season when. A garden time feature will also highlight the wide range of ornamental plants grown in Ireland and the suitability of these plants for the Irish climate.

Also new for 2010 is Bord Bia’s sustainable garden, which aims to highlight the positive impact consumers can have on the environment by thinking about their purchasing choices. Bord Bia is also currently working with the Carbon Trust to measure the carbon footprint of Bloom and will use the results to plan future events. A series of measures have been put in place to reduce the carbon footprint of this year’s event, including waste management controls, monitoring the reuse of materials after the event, and increasing the use of public transport to travel to and from Bloom.

The Office of Public Works, which provides the 70 acre site for Bloom, will once again open its walled kitchen garden to the public, which has been restored to its original Victorian style. The garden will allow visitors to learn more about the growing of fruit, vegetables, and flowers and during the five-day event, the Phoenix Park gardeners will be on hand to answer any questions.

The garden expert stage will also host a comprehensive range of leading experts in horticulture, gardening, and floristry. Speakers will include UK TV presenter James Alexander Sinclair, Ireland’s gardening guru Gerry Daly, and Shawna Lee Coronado, American author of the critically acclaimed book, Gardening Nude, a guide for living a green lifestyle.

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