GARDENING WITH GARETH: I’ll be one of the expected 100,000+ which will visit Bord Bia’s annual Bloom festival, which opened to the public in the Phoenix Park, Dublin on Thursday morning.
Bloom will mark its 10th year to celebrate food, horticulture and gardening by offering plant lovers, gastronomes, farmers and families more to smell, see, touch and taste than ever before. The President of Ireland, Michael D. Higgins officially opened the five-day festival on Thursday. This year’s show features 23 show gardens, more than 100 Irish food and drink producers, 200 retailers and 50 of Ireland’s top nurseries, all providing gardening tips, artisan food, craft beer and much more to more than 100,000 visitors who are expected to attend over the five days of the festival.
Since Bloom entered the garden show scene in 2007, the show has doubled in size to a 70 acre site. Attendances have also skyrocketed, with Bord Bia hoping to welcome 100,000 visitors this year, compared to just 40,000 in year one. Unfortunately here in the North West our ‘Bloom’ was stolen from us this year, due to the damaging flooding in the winter months the North West Garden Show held annually in Castlefinn didn’t happen.
The centrepiece of the festival once again promises to be the show garden area, where themes this year range from the 1916 Rising and the war in Syria, to social farming and the evolution of plants. Apart from a record eight large gardens on display this year, this year’s competition will also showcase gardens from Chile, China and Chicago, giving the show garden area a truly international feel. These show gardens give gardeners a great opportunity to get ideas for their own gardens, to see ‘what’s hot and what’s not’.
Speaking ahead of opening day, Bloom manager, Gary Graham, said: “Everyone in Bord Bia, and all those who are involved in the show in some way, have worked especially hard this year to ensure our visitors enjoy our 10th Bloom festival more than ever. While this is very much Bord Bia’s event, we could not put it together without the support of so many people. Hundreds of workers have been helping to build Bloom over the past 30 days, while more than 4,000 people, including 200 volunteers, will work onsite over the five days.
“As Bord Bia’s flagship horticulture and food event, Bloom provides us with the ultimate platform to showcase some of Ireland’s most talented garden designers, horticulturists and food and drink producers. There is no other event in the country that you will find all these incredibly talented people on the one site for five days and so readily accessible to the public.”
The festival will also provide a welcome boost to Ireland’s horticulture industry. Apart from an average annual Bloom spend of just over €7 million, including the purchase of some 90,000 plants, Irish consumers will spend up to €30 million on gardening, foliage and landscaping in the months following the show, according to research carried out by Bord Bia last year.
Bloom 2016 will also feature cookery demos from some of Ireland’s top chefs, fashion shows, public debate, music, an open farm, and a kids’ play area, along with many other forms of free entertainment.
Bloom opens its doors from 9am on Thursday morning and will run to 6pm each day. For further information, travel information or to purchase tickets, visit www.bloominthepark.com. There is no entry charge for children under 16 years of age.
Some of Gareths Highlights in Bloom;
- Home to over 100 food stalls, gastronomic delights and palette pleasers, the Food Village at Bloom will offer a wide range of artisan produce on sale and onsite dining options. Guests can also dine at Bistro Bloom or visit the Country Crest restaurant and Farm Shop.
- A new BBQ area, sponsored by Dawn Meats, will help whet appetites while the Bloom Inn will feature a wide range of Irish craft beers and spirits accompanied by a selection of gourmet farmhouse cheeses, supplied by the Association of Irish Farmhouse Cheesemakers.
- This year’s GIY Zone will the biggest to date and includes a new Food Matters stage. Home to daily workshops, discussion and debate, the new hub will bring together Ireland’s leading food writers, chefs, nutritionists, healthcare experts and journalists. Topics will include how to make workplaces healthier and happier, the future of organic farming, school dinners and the real costs of cheap food to mention but a few.
- Bord Bia’s new Origin Green Experience, located within the Food Village, is a must-do at Bloom 2016. By 2050, the global population will have risen by 2.5 billion, presenting a huge challenge for food production. Bord Bia is inviting visitors to learn more about the Irish food and drink industry and how they are fast becoming world leaders in sustainable food production.
- Also for the first time Bord Bia is working with YouBloom to introduce new and emerging musicians to entertain the masses on the live stage
- RTÉ is back at Bloom with lots more live TV and radio broadcasting planned. RTÉ Super Garden, the contest offering one garden designer the chance to exhibit their work at Bloom, will broadcast its finale from the festival while Áine Lawlor and Marty Morrissey will present Bloom Live, a new two part show live from the Phoenix Park. The RTE weather team will be onsite, RTÉ Lyric FM quartet will perform throughout the weekend and RTÉjr children’s presenters will entertain younger Bloom visitors
- This year the Banter at Bloom marquee will host six talks daily over the 5 day festival. Chaired by Jim Carroll, the Banter marquee will host a series of discussions, talks, and conversations on topical issues around food, sustainability, agriculture, and everything in between.
- The Floral & Nursery Pavilion, sponsored by Toyota and Lexus Ireland, will showcase the very best of plant nurseries in Ireland with over 50 exhibits in total
- The AOIFA Floral Art Stage also returns to Bloom, offering advice and demonstrations on the techniques and artistry required to achieve a perfect floral display at home
- The Craft and Design Council of Ireland return with the Irish craft village while shoppers will spoilt for choice with over 200 retail stands onsite
- ‘Budding Bloomers’, as the children’s area is called, will host a vibrant mixture of family friendly features to keep children entertained and active, from toddlers to fifth classers. Remember kids under 16 go free!
- Finally, Bord Bia will also be joined by some of the biggest names in Irish food and drink as part of the Chef’s Quality Kitchen stage. Oliver Dunne, The Happy Pear, Roz Purcell, Neven Maguire, Rory O’Connell, and many more will be on hand to share summer recipes and top tips. Anyways enjoy show and look out for me when your there!
- I’d suggest if you’re going down to Bloom then head down early, as when it fills in the afternoon the place gets really busy. So get the 5.30am Expressway and get there around 10.30 to the Pheonix Park (there’s courtesy buses that take you to the festival door!), and then the 6.45 bus back….if you’re lucky like me you’ll snooze all the way down and back up!