- Andrew Wilson
- Mark Gregory
- Paul Maher
- Feargus McGarvey
- Karen Foley
- Leslie Moore – Guest Judge
- Cor Van Gelderen – Guest Judge
Nursery & Floral Pavilion / Postcard Garden Judges
- Dr. Tom Curtis
- Jim Buttress
- Paul McDonnell
- Dalphne Shackelton
- Brid Kellegher
Botanical & Floral Art Judges
- Brendan Sayers
- Alexandra Cacamo
- Deborah Lambkin
Showcasing the high horticultural standards and practices Ireland has to offer, the show gardens, nursery displays and botanical art exhibits provide visitors with inspiration and ideas that they can bring back to their own gardens and homes regardless of the size of garden or budget they were working with.
The Gardens you see on display at the show are the culmination of countless hours of design, planning, sourcing of materials and ultimately, hard manual labour on behalf of our garden designers, nurseries and artists. The judging panels are an integral part of this process, offering their expertise and ensuring that visitors to Bloom can enjoy the highest possible quality exhibits and show pieces.
Meet the Judges
Andrew Wilson is an award-winning garden designer, lecturer, and writer based in Surrey, England. Although trained originally as a landscape architect he now specialises in creating contemporary gardens in London and the South East of the UK as a partner in the Wilson McWilliam Studio. He is also a Director of the London College of Garden Design based within the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, teaching and lecturing in garden design both nationally and internationally. Andrew is a published author and writer, producing his most recent book The Small Garden Handbook for the RHS. He also contributes regularly to ProLandscaper and the RHS Journal, The Garden. He has spent 17 years assessing and judging show gardens for the RHS but in 2013 he returned to show garden design at the RHS Chelsea Flower Show with his partner at the studio, Gavin McWilliam. They have also designed for Chelsea in 2014 & 15 and for the Singapore Garden Festival in August 2014 where they won Gold and Best of Show. Andrew is a past Chairman and now a Fellow of the Society of Garden Designers, the UK’s professional body for garden design and he also currently sits on the RHS Education Committee. He is a member of the assessment team for both the SGD and the GLDA. His main interests lie in water sports, swimming, motorbike riding and classical singing. He also paints and draws and has a keen interest in photography. He is married to Barbara and has two daughters, Rebecca and Naomi and lives close to the Thames in Surrey.
Mark is a highly respected and successful contractor based in Surrey in the South East of England, with over 30 years of Quality Landscaping experience. He now concentrates on high-end private gardens and quality commercial landscapes. He also specialises in the construction of show gardens for The RHS Chelsea and Hampton Court, Flower shows, with over 120 medal winning Show gardens to his name, including 55 at Chelsea alone. He is ambitious and driven in his work; attention to detail and technical expertise are his trademarks and he regularly achieves awards and plaudits from his industry.
Karen Foley is a landscape architect with a background in education and practice in Ireland and the UK. She is currently Head of Landscape Architecture in the School of Architecture, at University College Dublin and teaches design studio and landscape planning. Her research interests include landscape change, landscape preference, and urban resilience.
Paul Maher started his career in Trinity College Botanic Garden Dublin and subsequently joined the staff of the National Botanic Gardens in 1974, where he is currently the Curator. During a three-year career break in 1987, he developed a garden design practice in the greater Dublin area. He was a participant in one of the first Irish Garden Festivals in 1988 where he won the ‘The Most Marketable Garden Award’. He has established himself on the garden lecture circuit and has participated in plant collecting expeditions to China and Chile collecting on behalf of the National Botanic Gardens. He has exhibited at the Chelsea Flower Show with the Irish Garden Plant Society as the designer of two Silver Gilt medal winning educational exhibits.
Feargus is an award winning Landscape Architect and Garden Designer who has worked on projects across Ireland, from gardens for a private castle in Co Cork to the Giant’s Causeway Visitor Centre in Co Antrim. His international experience includes projects in the UK, the Netherlands, Germany, China and Saudi Arabia. Based in Dublin and Co Offaly, he works with Mitchell and Associates and is a former President of the Irish Landscape Institute. He is the author of national guidance on accessibility for people with disabilities to our landscapes, and on children’s play in urban areas. He has been a judge for the Association of Landscape Contractors of Ireland Awards and is on the submissions panel for the Garden and Landscape Design Association.
Leslie Moore – Guest Judge
Leslie joined Dublin City Council as City Parks Superintendent at the end of February 2012. A graduate of UCD, where he studied Landscape Horticulture (B.Agr. Sc), Leslie also has a Masters in Local Government Management from the Institute of Public Administration. As a horticulturist and Landscape Architect he worked with the former Dublin County Council and South Dublin County Council. More recently, he worked with Dun Laoghaire Rathdown County Council, where he led the planning, design and development of a number of significant improvements to parks, gardens and visitor facilities such as tearooms notably in Killiney Hill Park, Cabinteely Park, Marlay Park and the Peoples Park, Dun Laoghaire. The Japanese Courtyard Garden in Cabinteely Park is also a project of which he is particularly proud. Leslie led the first Open Space Strategy of any local authority in Ireland which was published in 2012 and he is now taking a strategic look at the parks and open spaces in the city to assess the current ‘health’ of the Parks Service given the diverse needs of citizens and visitors to a capital city. The needs identified by this study and Conservation studies of historic parks such as Merrion Square and Mountjoy Square which have recently been completed will help to inform priorities for future capital spending in Dublin City Council. A project design/development programme is evolving which will see significant improvements to the facilities for local communities and visitors to the City over the next number of years.
Cor van Gelderen – Guest Judge
Cor van Gelderen is the owner of the Esveld nursery in Holland, known for having one of the most extensive garden plant collections in Europe. He is also the author of a number of books on plants, such as “Maples for Gardens” and “The Hydrangea Encyclopedia”, as well as a number of publications on dendroflora. Recently he has published books on “Shade Plants” and “Plants for Autumn Interest”. He shares his knowledge about plants internationally as a trial committee member for the RHS, as well as its Dutch counterpart, the KVBC. Cor is also a keen garden designer. His views on planting schemes are outspoken, maintaining that a good planting scheme will help enhance a good garden design, whereas a faulty planting scheme can easily ruin it. His lectures on plants are famous for his warm and personal approach, and his infectious love for his subject.
Frances MacDonald has worked in gardening for over 40 years. She trained in the National Botanic Gardens in Dublin. After a spell in Japan, she worked in the Royal Botanic Gardens in Kew. She now lives in Co. Wexford at The Bay Garden which opens to the public during the summer months.
Frances ran her own garden tour company for many years but now organises and guides garden tours to gardens and horticultural shows across the world for the Travel Department. She has worked as the series consultant on the RTE Radio 1 programme ‘Planting Passions’ and has judged at Garden Heaven Show, Hillsborough Garden Show, Harrogate Spring and Autumn Show. She writes a regular column for The Irish Garden magazine and freelances as a writer for other magazines and journals. She also lectures on behalf of the RHSI to garden clubs.
Jim is a judge at many shows including RHS Chelsea and Hampton Court, and for South East in Bloom. He was Chairman of London in Bloom for ten years and is Chairman of the London Gardens Society. Trained at Wisley, Jim worked for Croydon Parks, the Greater London Council and The Royal Parks where he ended his career as Superintendent of Greenwich Park. He was a Trustee of the Gardeners’ Royal Benevolent Society (Perennial) and is an ‘Associate of Honour’ of the RHS. He was awarded a Fellowship of the Institute of Horticulture in 1999 and achieved the highest accolade in the gardening world, the Victoria Medal of Honour. Jim devotes much of his time giving talks to societies and charities and has gained renown for his television appearances.
Dr. Tom Curtis
Tom Curtis is a botanist and horticulturalist with over 35 years of garden and botanical experience in Ireland and abroad. He trained at the National Botanic Gardens and Mount Congreve garden Co. Waterford and then graduated in botany from University College Dublin. Following this, he completed his doctoral thesis on Irish orchids at Trinity College, Dublin. Until 2001, he worked in the National Parks and Wildlife Service, latterly as Chief Scientist dealing with conservation research especially on rare plants. Currently, he is a freelance Botanical Consultant covering a wide variety of activities ranging from garden tours to genetic resources in horticulture and agriculture to restoration programmes for rare plants and in 2015 he was a Judge at Bloom in the Park.
He is the co-author of the Irish Red Data Book: 1 Vascular Plants (1988); The Orchids of Ireland (2009) and Webb’s An Irish Flora (2012). He has published over 50 scientific papers on many aspects of Irish plants. He is a Research Associate of the Dept of Botany, Trinity College Dublin and in conjunction with its Herbarium he carries out research on the Flora of Thailand. He has also traveled widely in S.E. Asia visiting the gardens and National Parks in the region. He is also an Adjunct Lecturer in Botany and Plant Science at the National University Ireland, Galway. He is a Board Member of Biology and Environment Royal Irish Academy and Sectional Editor for Botany of The Irish Naturalists’ Journal. He is a member of several horticultural societies, a Life Member of the Delgany and District Horticultural Society, Co. Wicklow and a regular exhibitor and winner at its shows. He gardens in Bray, Co. Wicklow where his chief interest is in unusual and tender, herbaceous perennials.
Brendan Sayers is Glasshouse Foreman in the National Botanic Gardens, Glasnevin. Brendan specialises in Belizean and Irish orchids and published with botanical artist Susan Sex, the much-coveted and awarded duo of Ireland’s Wild Orchids and Ireland’s Wild Orchids – a field guide. In 2011 he received the H.H. Bloomer Medal from the Linnean Society of London for raising the profile of Irish orchids. He is currently working with the Irish Society of Botanical Artists on their extensive exhibition Aibítir – The Irish Alphabet in Botanical Art and with Susan Sex on their next collaboration.
Brendan’s work over the last decades has brought him into close contact with other Irish botanical artists and the botanical art archive of the Library, National Botanic Gardens. Brendan was raised in County Kerry and educated in horticulture at The National Botanic Gardens. He worked in professional horticulture in New York and New Jersey, before returning permanently to Ireland in 1993.
London born Belinda’s childhood home was close to Kew Gardens and her interest in botanical art is hardly surprising, as the gardens were her playground and its wonderful botanical art her inspiration. She travelled widely in the Far East, lived in Japan for a number of years and the celebration of individual flowers, plants, animals and insects in her work clearly shows an Eastern influence. Belinda trained as a Botanical Artist and completed the UK Society of Botanical Artists Diploma Course and is also a member of the recently formed Irish Society of Botanical Artists. Belinda moved to Ireland in 2001 where she lives with her husband, two daughters (and three dogs!) and the often overlooked flora and fauna of the beautiful land and seascapes that surround her home in the picturesque fishing village of Ballycotton in Co. Cork provides much of her inspiration.
From her studio in the Shanagarry Design Centre nearby she produces a range of striking botanical prints, a new children’s collection and a contemporary series of charming illustrations. Combining urban chic with the natural patterns and designs of nature, her recently introduced “Collector’s Edition” range of silk scarves is a natural fashion extension of her brand. All of her work can be seen on her website www.belindanorthcote.com.
Alexandra Caccamo is the Librarian in the National Botanic Gardens, Glasnevin. She is responsible for curating and cataloguing the collections in the Library, including the art and rare books collections. Alexandra studied Botany in Trinity College Dublin and the Royal Botanic Gardens Edinburgh before going on to work in the Botany Department of Liverpool Museum. After returning to Ireland, she retrained as a Librarian and eventually was able to combine her interests in plants and librarianship in her present role. She is currently the Chairperson of the Irish Society of Botanical Artists.