What a wonderfully sunny day for the start of Bloom in the Park 2013! Queues were already forming before the gates opened at 10am. Like most visitors, we started with the 28 show gardens, which ranged in size from 35m2 to over 200m2.
It can be hard to create an impact in the Small Gardens category but there was plenty of variety: the Fairy Garden with its miniature landscapes had special appeal for children, while the Calor Garden stretched the space with a sinuous burgundy wall, reminiscent of Rachel de Thames’ entry at Chelsea a few years ago. I liked the way the Eco Tango Garden, which used many recycled materials to good effect, used the red of the poppies as a motif reflected in the set dressing.
In the Medium Garden category, A Cranberry Gathering evoked a “wow” from the crowds: deservedly so. One of our favourite gardens of the show, the design was truly three-dimensional, with a sunken courtyard and elevated hideaway overlooking pools of deep-red cranberries. The planting too had interesting combinations: camassias with grasses and alliums rising up through massed planting of hostas.
Another favourite of ours in this category was Riverside Calm, a contemporary suburban garden with plenty of impact in the subtle planting, the riverside water feature, and the lovely seating area replete with firepit on the cool cream Travertine paving.
Other favourites with the crowds were the funky 1970s Retro Garden, complete with caravan and ’70s shrub planting, the Love to Grow garden with its wicker containers of edible plants, and the Hospice Garden with its entrance walkway through ornate metal arches of Rosa banksiae.
Having spent ten years in Africa, the Concern-sponsored, Zambian-themed concept garden, 1000 Days, was of special interest with its emphasis on good nutrition. President and Mrs Higgins arrived to admire it alongside us: great to see them attending, even if they only have to pop across the road!
Of course the Large Garden category always provides designers the chance to display their creativity on a bigger canvas. We loved the formality of Giardino della mostra with its clean cut lines, its central avenue, and water features flanked by the softening of attractive planting. The Waterford Harvest garden was much admired with its contrasting clean and minimalist summerhouse and wild, natural landscape.
So, overall impressions? An interesting variety of gardens, some more successfully implemented than others and, impressively, catering for all tastes.
Key planting colours were the blues and purples; key plants were alliums, camassias, cirsium and the ever popular French lavender.
A really great day out, lots of food for thought and lots to provoke discussion. Well worth a visit.
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(All photography mine)