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pottering around

From an electricity-generating toilet to a whiskey barrel hot tub: Here are our 6 favourite gardens at Bloom

Bloom Festival has 22 show gardens on display and will run until the end of the Bank Holiday weekend.

IRELAND’S LARGEST GARDENING festival has arrived in Dublin’s Phoenix Park for its 13th year, with over 22 show gardens on display.

From an underwater garden, to one that has a working hot tub made from a 100-year-old whiskey barrel, there are a vast array of different designs on display.

Here are our six favourite gardens at Bloom 2019.

UCD History of the Irish Diet in Plants

This garden displays changes in the Irish diet, looking at key societal and historical changes over the past 8,000 years.

Divided into five sections, the garden begins with the hunter-gatherer period and covers the introduction of farming, as well as the impact of industrialisation. 

Designer John McCord says he hopes the garden makes people realise that Irish weeds like nettles, chickweed and fat hen can be eaten, but also that imported goods like dill and chili peppers can be grown here.

The garden also has a display of pastureland to represent grass-fed animals and ponds to represent people’s dependence on lakes for fish and other sustenance before the introduction of organised agriculture. 

Sponsored by University College Dublin. Designed by Dr. Caroline Elliott-Kingston, Dr. Meriel Mcclatchie, John McCord, Ciaran Rooney, Hannah Johnston, Niamh Conlan.

IMG_0343 / Andrew Roberts / Andrew Roberts / Andrew Roberts

Image 2 / Andrew Roberts / Andrew Roberts / Andrew Roberts

Marie Keating Foundation Breath of Life Garden

This garden tells the story of lung cancer in Ireland, looking at both the dark and hopeful narratives around cancer with a mix of different textures and colours.

The metal structure in the middle represents the outline of a pair of lungs and the support that is needed for patients through a lung cancer journey.

The covered patio area is clad in charred timber to reflect the pervasive nature of lung cancer as the biggest cause of death in Ireland.

There is also a small chemical-free pool as an area for exercise and relaxation. It is also a space that focuses on the importance of reflection and mindfulness during a cancer journey, its designer says. 

Sponsored by Marie Keating Foundation in association with MSD and FloGlas. Designed by Tünde Perry.

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IMG_0240 / Andrew Roberts / Andrew Roberts / Andrew Roberts

E3 Garden

This garden may take some people by surprise at first as it includes a fully functioning toilet in the middle of a vegetable patch.

Designed by researchers at Trinity College Garden, the garden aims to demonstrate technology that simultaneously removes pollutants from wastewater and generates electricity.

The wastewater in the garden is treated and re-used for gardening, food production, dairy farming and other purposes. It also generates electricity in this process, which powers a disinfection system that purifies the treated wastewater.

Developed in response to water restrictions from the 2018 heatwave, the designers of the garden hope to promote sustainable development.

Sponsored by Trinity College Dublin. Designed by Liwen Xiao, Tom Grey and Dunzhu LI.

IMG_0372 / Andrew Roberts / Andrew Roberts / Andrew Roberts

Image 3 / Andrew Roberts / Andrew Roberts / Andrew Roberts

The Blackwater Gin Garden

Upcycling was a key element in designers Peter Cowell and Monty Richardson’s gin garden.

Made from reclaimed and recycled materials, the garden aims to replicate elements of the Blackwater Gin Distillery site in Waterford, with added water features and lush foliage.  

There are three separate areas to the garden: a social entertaining area, a small bar and a secluded hot tub area that Cowell says was converted from a 100-year-old whiskey barrel.

“You can basically sit in your garden, an oasis away from work and life and just relax,” says Cowell.

Sponsored by Blackwater Distillery. Designed by Peter Cowell and Monty Richardson (The Hairy Gardeners).

Capture 5 / Andrew Roberts / Andrew Roberts / Andrew Roberts

Image 4 / Andrew Roberts / Andrew Roberts / Andrew Roberts

Bord Iascaigh Mhara’s (BIM) Aqua Marine Garden

This garden was made to resemble a rock pool on the Irish coastline and aims to raise awareness of Ireland’s marine environment.

It is Bloom’s first underwater garden, and if you peer into the glass, you’ll notice a range of marine species swimming among the seaweed and Irish coastal plant life.

In addition to the novelty, its designers say the garden contains an important message about pollution, specifically plastic waste in Irish oceans.  

A ring of plastic and waste contained in glass surrounds the underwater garden. All the material is pulled from the nets of Irish fishing trawlers who have been collecting it as part of the Fishing for Litter Scheme of the government-backed Clean Oceans Initiative. 

The garden was named overall winner in the concept garden category. All fish species and water will be returned to the sea when Bloom ends, and all of the materials used in the garden have either been salvaged or recycled and will be reused.

Designer Oliver Shurmann hopes the display shocks people into action in relation to plastics in Irish oceans.  

Sponsored by Bord Iasciaigh Mhara (BIM). Designed by Oliver and Liat Schurmann. / YouTube

Memories are made of this – Dementia: Understand Together Garden

A celebration of the 1950s, this garden creates a space where people living with dementia can reminisce in a welcoming and supportive way.

The metal sculpture represents the growing number of Irish people who develop dementia – over 4,000 people each year.

Designer Robert Moore says they wanted to get a real sense of what gardens were like back in the 50s. This design has “the iconic” manicured front garden in the front with a practical garden in the back with a fruit and vegetable patch and a back shed for relaxation.

Broadcaster and journalist Dr Ciara Kelly, who’s mother had dementia, launched the garden at Bloom and says that “if somebody’s memory is slipping a bit, they will come to this garden and maybe feel at home”.

Sponsored by HSE Dementia Understand Together. Designed by Robert Moore. / YouTube

Bloom Festival takes place in Dublin’s Phoenix Park until Bank Holiday Monday 3 June. For more details click here.

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