Kate’s take on Bloom 2017: ‘Excellence and innovation in garden design’

Published by Kate O'Brien on

“I liked it the way it was, we’ll probably get marked down for it,” said Liat Schurmann of Mount Venus Nursery, eyeing the tiny Star of Bethlehem that smuggled itself in under cover of a shuttlecock fern.

I’m at this year’s Bloom Festival and ‘Transition’ is Liat and Oliver Schurmann’s show garden for FBD Insurance. Inspired by the Connemara landscape, the garden stood out for its naturalistic and subtle planting.

I eyed the modernist steel and glass structure reflected in calm waters amongst the greenery as a bee hovered over some borage. Royal fern was also in evidence throughout the garden, as were swathes of cow parsley punctuated by Buttercup Trollius and shots of red flowered viper’s grass.

The lush green landscape was layered with sinewy trees southern beech, stag’s horn and in the background – but by no means in the shade – dead man’s finger, a tree distinctive for its blue, bean-like catkins.

“The concept of the garden is to show how small impact a house should have on the landscape,” said Oliver. “You should feel part of the landscape.”

Busy bees were part of the landscape everywhere across Bloom ‘s 22 show gardens; 13 postcard gardens; 50 floral and botanical art displays, and 110 food and drink stands.

The stunning show gardens demonstrate excellence and innovation in Irish garden design, ranging from functional gardens expertly designed to fit an urban space, to concept gardens designed to communicate a powerful social issue or charitable message.

Speaking of busy bees, Friends of the Earth launched their bee friendly “Bright Side of Life” garden in the ‘Postcard Garden’ section, a part of the show dedicated to passionate amateur gardeners, schools and gardening clubs.

The garden was designed by permaculture expert and 2015 RTE Super Garden Finalist, Suzie Cahn, highlighting the many ways householders can help bees by providing food, shelter and healthy ecosystems in which pollinators can thrive.

Ireland is one of the first countries in Europe with a strategy to protect pollinators through our National Pollinator Plan.

“We’re showcasing how that plan can be put into practice at home through our Bright Side of Life garden,” Friends of the Earth Chairperson, Dr Cara Augustenborg explained. “Our volunteers are looking forward to sharing their nature-friendly gardening tips to help Bloom visitors become true friends of the Earth in their own backyards.”

I also enjoyed My Land, Your Land – Ireland, a garden designed by Tünde Szentesi for Agri Aware, the education charity that tells the story of Irish agriculture and food, through a farm to fork circle.

Celebrating their 20th year representing agriculture in Ireland the garden showcases how farming is embracing sustainable practices.

Woodland, grassland (with dashes of colourful cosmos) and hedgerows are presided over by the scarecrow Nanny Mc Sheep, as well as a paddock, compost and an out-door kitchen area.

Eight hundred school children are expected to visit the garden over the weekend to learn where their food comes from. The garden will also be represented at the Bloom Farmyard area where there will be cows milked and sheep shearing demos for the family to watch. The garden will be relocated to Fota Wildlife Park in Cork after the show.

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Categories: Opinion

Kate O'Brien

Kate is a freelance writer with work published in The Guardian, the Financial Times and the New York Times blog. She is a former Editor of The Plant, a UK magazine on plants and other greenery