Some 119,000 people attended Bord Bia’s Bloom festival in the Phoenix Park, Dublin over the June bank holiday weekend. Tara McCarthy, CEO of Bord Bia, the organisation that created Bloom, commented, “Since our first Bloom event in 2007, we have welcomed over 1 million visitors to experience the best of Ireland. Bord Bia is proud of how our Bloom festival has blossomed and continues to showcase our world-class horticulture and food sectors, both of which play a significant and sustainable role in Ireland’s story and economy.”
As the sun sets on another successful Bloom, Bord Bia today announced that many of this year’s show gardens will be rebuilt and rehoused at various locations nationwide over the coming weeks. Meanwhile, the main features from one gold medal show garden, Alan Rudden’s ‘Life is Rosé by Santa Rita’, will be transported to London next week. Alan will use the features to create his first international show garden at Hampton Court Palace Flower Show in July.
A version of the popular Mamma Mia garden will be rebuilt at Cloughjordan House, a prestigious wedding venue in North Tipperary, while two Enable Ireland service centres will receive elements of Linda McKeown’s medal winning show garden. In line with its sustainability ethos, the teams behind the Dun-Laoghaire Rathdown Fernhill garden and The Greener Way for Fingal garden will reuse many components for other upcoming projects, while some elements of the Fingal garden will be relocated to Bremore Castle, Balbriggan, Co. Dublin and the Seamus Ennis Art Centre in north Co. Dublin.
Meanwhile, the sensory Sanctuary Nurture Garden will be fully rehomed at the Phoenix Park Special School, which caters for children aged 4-12 diagnosed with severe emotional and behavioural difficulties, while the key elements of GOAL’s ‘No Limits – Garden for Women’ will be donated to a number of primary schools in Dublin. Trocaire’s garden will be rehomed at the Franciscan Sisters based in Ballinasloe, Co. Galway while the Waterford based Solas Cancer Support Centre will rehome the Marie Keating SunSmart Garden.
Tara McCarthy added, “In keeping with Bord Bia’s vision for this event, the rehousing programme is just one of a number of initiatives we undertake to assure that sustainability remains at the heart of the event.”
East meets West at Bloom
Today, Bord Bia welcomed a delegation of chefs and media from Hong Kong to experience the varied food offering at Bloom. The chefs are recent finalists in an EU-funded culinary competition which challenged Hong Kong chefs to design a 2-course beef and lamb menu, fusing Eastern and Western flavours. They were joined by a high-profile Chinese social media influencer, Lingluo, who will relay her experience at Bloom and in Ireland to her 1.8 million followers. Just two weeks ago, over 6 million Chinese consumers tuned in to watch her interview with Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Michael Creed and Bord Bia’s CEO. Following their day at Bloom, they will enjoy a trip around Ireland taking in locations such as West Cork and, visiting farms and factories, to see the quality of Irish food production first-hand.
This follows a recent week-long trade mission to China and Hong Kong led by the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine and Bord Bia. Tara McCarthy said, “This is a great opportunity to continue to raise the profile of Ireland as a source of quality food and beverages as we look to expand the range of exports into China and Hong Kong. Following other promotional activity in these markets, we want to highlight the credentials of Ireland’s food and drink sector from a food safety, sustainability and authenticity perspective, in order to develop a unique selling point for Irish product. China is now Ireland’s third largest market overall while Hong Kong is one of the most exciting places in the world for cuisine right now which is a great fit for Irish food and drink, and we think there’s a real opportunity for us to contribute to that developing food culture.”
Bloom 2018 by Numbers
As the festival draws to a close, Bord Bia has released some of the event facts and figures from the last five days:
- 119,000 attend Bloom. Of these, 17,500 were children kids.
- 1 millionth visitor
- Almost a third of exhibitors (33) within the Food Village was new to Bloom and a third of the Craft Village retailers were new companies and/or new to Bloom.
- More than 20,000 plants left in the Plant Crèche to be cared for while they enjoyed the festival
- Three-quarters of a tonne of strawberries eaten in Bord Bia’s Polytunnel and Kids’ Zone
- This year’s show featured 20 exquisite show gardens, 13 postcard gardens, 28 nursery displays and a feature garden, ‘Sculpture in the Park’
- The judging panel for Bloom 2018 comprised of 14 Irish and international horticultural experts, who today announced well over 100 awards for show garden designers, nurseries, floral artists and amateur garden designers including 35 Gold, 22 Silver Gilt, 19 Silver, 24 Bronze and 13 certificates of commendation.
- It will take 14 days to clear the Bloom site (it took 7 weeks to build Bloom)
People’s Choice Award
The final day of Bloom also marked the announcement of the People’s Choice Award which was won by “The Growing Shed” designed by Melanie Webb. The winner of this coveted award is voted for by visitors to the show over the five days. This is Melanie’s first design at Bloom having attended as a visitor in recent years. It reflects a low-maintenance small suburban garden. Everything in this garden earns its keep, including the shed which is a garden in itself with its stepped roof planted with trays of herbs, grasses and flowers.
Dates for 2019
According to Bord Bia, plans and preparations are already well underway for Bloom 2019, with many show gardens, sponsors and designers already signed up. Bord Bia has also confirmed that Bloom will take place from Thursday, May 30th to Monday, June 3rd, 2019.