Tim and I went to Bloom in the Phoenix Park. On Wednesday evening, we had a superb meal with friends in F.X. Buckley’s steak house. We stayed in the Ashling Hotel and were out to Bloom bright and early on Thursday morning.

Our first exploration was through the ‘Sculpture in the Park’ space by the Kildare Gallery. My favourite piece was a sculpture called ‘Summertime Serenade’ by Ronan Butler. We moved along, noting subtle changes that the organisers Bord Bia had made ensuring the show flowed better for the visitors.

Many of the garden retail outlets had moved outside where there was less congestion around the displays.Change is good and it is necessary to alter the layout to keep us interested from year-to-year. The show gardens are where you find real inspiration.

This year, one of the designers, Louise Checa, the daughter-in-law of our friends Tom and Martha Parlon won a silver-gilt medal for her Bord Bia sponsored garden. It was very exciting to know Louise and her husband Fergal Parlon and to celebrate her success. I had been following the development of the garden with real interest and I thoroughly enjoyed getting little previews as it evolved.

Louise is an amazing artist in all things flowers and she has a keen eye for the supporting architecture that makes a good garden. The contractor was James Brennan of Vision Landscape Solutions and Louise had several sponsors.

Many of the plants were edible and the design once finished did not need to be disturbed, allowing biodiversity to flourish

Behind the scenes

I have some idea of the amount of work that goes into a show garden. Irish Country Magazine won a gold medal for its entry in 2015. Mairead Lavery, the then editor, put in trojan work along with the designer Fiann Ó Nualláin. The rest of the team pitched in also. I remember going to Bloom before the show with the boot of the car filled with plants and paraphernalia. Looking back on the garden, it had spectacular colour with wonderful purple, blue, white and red luscious lupins. There were indigo bee hives and colour features throughout. The show gardens have evolved in the intervening years.

Spectacular colour is not the theme anymore. Everything is greener both in plant and ideals. Sustainability is a huge feature. Louise’s garden was called ‘A space for possibilities, the Modular Container Garden.’

The garden design demonstrated that even a small area can be transformed into a versatile space with clever use of adaptable modular features. Louise used the hexagon pattern inspired by bees throughout including ceramic flooring and ironworks through which a variety of plants grew.

There was also a clever hexagonal barbecue and beautiful stools underneath a meandering hexagonal bench. The detail was splendid, down to a little iron robin perched on the hexagonal timber openings where plants nestled.

Many of the plants were edible and the design once finished did not need to be disturbed, allowing biodiversity to flourish.

The creativeness of Louise’s garden and many others can be transformed into a section of a bigger garden or be the total green area for a home encompassing a relaxing space to barbecue and drink a beer on a lazy summer’s evening. I always come home inspired with my green fingers itching.

Thanks to all the garden designers for wonderful inspiration.

New spuds

We moved on to the Food Village where Irish Artisan Producers were serving and selling their beautiful produce. Our next stop was the Horticulture Pavilion where we met the most interesting young researcher from Teagasc, Dr Katie Hetherington, working on the development of new varieties of potatoes. It takes 12 years to develop a new potato variety. This time can be halved by the new technology called ‘CRISPR.’ Her ability to explain the science and her willingness to engage with us proved to be the highlight of Tim’s visit.

There is something for everyone at Bloom and when the weather is favourable, there is no better place to be over the June bank holiday weekend.