Posts Tagged ‘ The Phoenix Park ’

Mumford & Sons Close Out The Park In Style


The Phoenix Park Summer Fest came to a close yesterday and thankfully was a far more resounding success than last year. It was fitting so that we should be sent on the road by the very Gentlemen Of The Road, Mumford & Sons. The first dramatic difference between the two days of the weekend gigs was how much Sunday was a Mumford event. Entering the venue, the crowd was presented with all of the hoarding and props associated with their standalone shows, to the point that even Heineken lost their branding to a simple “Beer” branding in the vintage Mumford style.
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Bloom in the Park: A Walk in the Park

This year saw the sixth annual extravaganza of all things horticultural at The Phoenix Park, Dublin. Bloom 2011 received almost 90,000 visitors so the organizers will no doubt have been hoping for an even better turnout this Bank Holiday weekend. The event (for those not horticulturally inclined) was held on a seventy-acre site at the Visitor’s Centre near the Ashtown Gate from 31st May until 4th June. The show contained more than just gardening themes however, as there was cookery and craft demonstrations, live entertainment, Irish food produce and a Kids’ Zone. For the first time, there was even a tree climbing competition to watch and (unbelievably) a world record attempt to plant seedlings in which to participate.

My main interest in Bloom is in viewing the show gardens and catching up on the progress being made by the experts restoring the Victorian Walled Kitchen Garden. The park itself is celebrating (if a park can be said to celebrate) its 350th anniversary this year so that provided an additional reason for going along to see some of Bloom’s events. I decided not to brave Bloom in the rain on Sunday, holding off to see what the weather forecast for Monday looked like. As the prognosis looked to be more promising, I bit the bullet and booked online on Sunday night. I have learnt from bitter experience that it makes more sense to do it that way than queue up on the day.

Bank Holiday Monday dawned fine so we set off for the park in good spirits, though not without taking the precaution of packing an umbrella along with the sun cream. Arriving at around eleven it was obvious that we were not the only ones to decide to take a chance on it being a fine day. As we approached the entrance on foot from the Ashtown Gate, traffic was already building up in the park so we were pleased to have those pre-booked tickets. I was also pleased to find that the ground had dried out pretty well. Credit must surely go to the team of organisers for dealing with the effects of the downpour so well.

After studying the helpful map of the show area, divided into zones, we set off to see the show gardens in the green zone.  These had been laid out on the far side of the Victorian Walled Kitchen Garden so we took a stroll through the planting there first. The problem with viewing such a well-kept well vegetable garden is that it brings home quite strongly the shortcomings of my own attempts. Maybe the gardeners there have defeated the slug menace finally but I have yet to do so.

Our tall order that day was to view the twenty-seven show gardens before the crowds became too thick to make viewing comfortable. There were so many great pieces of work that I do not have the space here to describe them all. Apart from the gardens created by established designers there were some by garden design students and one by a very young garden designer indeed. The youngest exhibitor, Miah Ní Nualláin was ten years old, showing a design called Reigning Cats and Dogs that featured only plants friendly to dogs and cats. Miah created the garden in a form that she thought it might have been designed by her pets, including an oversized dog bone.

Another lovely piece that caught our eye was from students at Dundrum College of Further Education. This took the silent film star Charlie Chaplin as its theme and was entitled Lights, Camera, Action….Popcorn! In answer to the obvious question, yes, popcorn was indeed available for visitors to sample. The horticultural star of the show was Rosa ‘Charlie Chaplin’ with co-stars bamboos and herbaceous plants. Installations suggesting a film screen and old film reel evoked a feeling of the old days of cinema. There was a sofa with the iconic bowler hat and cane resting on it as though waiting for Chaplin to pick them up. The design team stated part of its purpose as being “To encourage, promote and highlight our sponsors’ ethos of recycling, re-using and protecting the environment while enjoying a garden”. It is good to see designers of the future finding creative ways to re-use materials.

Perhaps not surprisingly, concern for the environment loomed large as a theme in several of the exhibition gardens this year. Angel’s Fishing Rods, Mermaid’s Tears: A Tale of the Sea was designed by 3Design Gardens to resemble a harbour. A large fishing net held the day’s catch. The message of the installation was that we must tackle the huge problem of discarded plastic that is washed up on our beaches every day. Mermaid’s Tears or nurdles are micro plastic pellets that end up in the sea and are then washed up on beaches. Let us hope that the story will have a happy conclusion.

There was so much to see and do at Bloom that we only began to wend our way home as the show was beginning to wind up. If you were after garden bargains, it looked as though it was worth waiting until the end when stock and displays were sold off. Sadly, there is a limit to what you can take home on the bus. Maybe next year….