So what was on trend at “Bloom”?

Each June I join the tens of thousands who pile through the gates of Dublin’s Phoenix Park to Ireland’s biggest garden festival, “Bloom”. There is a sense of anticipation as the Show Gardens loom into view and expectations run high.

Last year Colour was the thing! Almost to the extent of gaudiness.

This year, although there was plenty of colour, it was more subdued overall, more grasses and single species planting, and lots of cow parsley, foxgloves, herbs and meadow planting. There was also more of the enclosed courtyard feeling to many of the gardens.

Creating “Rooms”

There is always a gimmick or two, as designers seek to please their sponsors. I’m always impressed by the designers who can do this without sacrificing good taste. Take Alan Rudden’s Award winning Best in Category Show garden, sponsored by Santa Rita wines, designed to give a flavour of al fresco dining in Chile. The circular window into the garden was a striking design feature, well worth imitating, inviting exploration yet providing privacy/shelter for the garden beyond, whilst dividing the space into “rooms”.


Framing the view in the Santa Rita Living La Vida garden

Creating Seclusion with fire-pits as focal points

Most of us live in urban gardens, often overlooked by neighbours, so creating a sense of privacy  is often desirable, shutting out an increasingly frightening world. Secluded and/or sunken seating, often accompanied by outdoor fireplaces or fire-pits, are a great idea for our cool climate, extending the seasons we can use our outdoor space. These were some favourites :


Green walls, a fire-pit and sheltered, sunken seating


Sheltered seating complete with gas fire in a rusted steel façade, creates a secluded contemplative setting.


Curved stone seating in a secluded courtyard garden.


Creating Nostalgia

There was nostalgia too, in the year Ireland celebrates the Centenary of the 1916 Rising, the struggle for independence against overwhelming odds. There was lots of cottage style planting, old wheelbarrows, bee skeps, farmyard gates and meadows.





It seems, more than ever, we are seeing our gardens as a sanctuary; softer planting styles, perhaps a reflective pool, secluded seating.


A haven of peace and tranquillity where we can retreat from the world, for just a little while…..

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