Irish garden design showcased – Bloom 2014.

The skies were gloomy and the rain poured


but there was plenty of sunshine awaiting us on Day 1 at Bloom in the Park 2014, Dublin’s annual garden festival.


The Show Gardens were varied, both in content and delivery, but many were manned by enthusiastic designers keen to explain the ideas behind their creations.

Bloom aims to encourage

  • families, so there are fun gardens,
Iconic Irish crisp, Tayto, were "produced" along a conveyor belt

Iconic Irish crisps, Tayto, were “produced” along a conveyor belt


and a 17ft high topiary "Mr Tayto"

overlooked by a 17ft high topiary “Mr Tayto”

  • city dwellers, so there are small gardens packed with inspiration,
Paul Foley's "Best in Category" Small Garden

Paul Foley’s “Best in Category” Small Garden

  • a platform for young designers,
Cian Hawes' garden - winner of the Supergarden competition

Cian Hawes’ garden – winner of the Super Garden tv competition


  • a showcase for sponsors.
"Ocean Spray"'s Cranberr

“Ocean Spray”‘s Cranberry Garden

I loved Deirdre Pender’s “Between Two Worlds” garden, which was Celtic in concept. The lovely natural planting, and reflective pool highlighting the tangible and intangible – Heaven and Earth, Body and Soul…

Between Two Worlds

Between Two Worlds

… a “quiet spot in a busy place” was how Deirdre described it – notice the repetition of the circle motif creating harmony.

Between Two Worlds

Between Two Worlds

This year Limerick is celebrating its status as City of Culture and Ailish Drake’s lovely Limerick Culture Garden was an interpretation of Limerick’s medieval past.


Medieval monastic gardens were enclosed, contemplative environments, the Hortus conclusus, geometrically shaped and growing fruit, vegetables and medicinal herbs.


This was a much more structured garden than Deirdre Pender’s one but I felt it ,too, conveyed that intangible peaceful quality – the wattle beds brimming with plants, grapevines and bees.



Regular readers will know what a fan I am of pleached trees and a garden designed by Anthony Ryan for Our Lady’s Children’s Hospital, Crumlin, with Kildare Growers had immaculate planting, as one descended into the refuge or bolt-hole.


The cost of constructing these gardens runs into many thousands and could not exist without strong sponsorship, so the designers are sometimes constrained, but often inspired, by the input of their sponsor.

The Solus Concept Garden

The Solus Concept Garden

A perfect fit was found by the Samaritans and their designer Andrew Christopher Dunne. Their garden “You Talk, I’ll Listen” was one which had many perfect details, stone terraces and reflective steel pools.


As I wandered through the garden with Andrew, I was constantly impressed by how he had fulfilled the brief. The specially commissioned wall plaques conveyed the troubled mind, yet the reflective quality of the deep, dark pools stilled that troubled mind.


The restrained, but never dull, planting oozed tranquillity,


whilst the cradle seat offered sanctuary .. the sounds of the Show barely audible after we descended into the garden. I loved it, and so did the judges, winning it the Best in Category award for a medium garden.

The Best in Show Award went to Renault’s City life garden designed by Kevin Dennis, a sleek, modern garden


with a green roof, living wall and an electric car to seal its green credentials.


Last year, I mentioned how much I liked Ocean Spray’s Cranberry garden – here. 

This year, they struck Gold with a pretty Wellbeing Wetlands Garden, designed by Alan Rudden and David Ryan which sought to convey a cranberry farm setting with large bog wetland pond in the centre.


Happily the rain eased off by mid-day and the President of Ireland, Michael D Higgins and his wife popped in from the Presidential House, Áras an Uachtaráin, (across the road), to offer support to the designers.


Congratulations to all the designers – the road to Bloom, or any Garden Show, is a stressful and arduous one.

Now let’s hope lots of commissions will ensue.

You can read about what was achieved in the tiny “Postcard Gardens” here.

*Latest news* An hour after I wrote this, it was announced that Andrew won the coveted Designers’ Favourite Award, for his “You talk I’ll listen” garden. Delighted for him!


18 thoughts on “Irish garden design showcased – Bloom 2014.

  1. It must have been so wonderful to be amidst such stunning gardens! I especially like the “You talk, I’ll listen” design ~ so tranquil, and also the “Between Two worlds” garden ~ I love all the circles, and the concept. Lovely photos Lorna, despite the rain. 🙂


    • Thanks Julie! Afraid the quality of the photos suffered from the rain but glad you think they were ok… we have had so much rain this Spring ( no wonder it’s the Emerald Isle)
      I also liked those 2 gardens, both very tranquil, which I like.


  2. Lovely to see all these gardens. I love the Celtic one and I really enjoyed seeing so many Lupins. I think you did brilliantly with the photography on such a wet day.


    • Thanks so much Karen!
      Little globules of moisture on the camera lens!
      The Celtic garden was just what an Irish garden should be – natural, green, lyrical!
      The pond was made of precast concrete – a recycled object I think.


      • It’s late now, but another time, I would love to know how that lovely circular pond was made. I am just altering part of my garden and it has just so happened that two circles have come together, almost like a figure 8. It feels very satisfying to look at.


  3. Pingback: Food for thought at Bloom. | Jardin

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