Saturday afternoon at Bloom 2011 – photos and review
There are two days left at Bloom 2011 in the Phoenix Park. Following a visit this afternoon, here’s a few things I think you might need to know before you go.
My dad has recently taken to gardening in a big way. Every time I visit home now there’s something new to see, a new plant has bloomed or a new feature added to the gardens. He’s very proud of it and regularly buys from shops, garden centres and the bargains in Lidl and Aldi the odd time.
To be honest, I thought Bloom was going to be only for people like him.
I’d never been to the event, and while I was curious, I wasn’t convinced, though the invitation from Bord Bia helped. When we went with friends this afternoon, walking from Stonybatter to the Park, it was late in the day, giving us ample time, I thought, to have a look around and leave if it wasn’t for us.
I regret leaving it so late now. It would have been a great day out.
For first time visitors to Bloom, you need to know one thing – it’s huge. I walked around today at my first visit ever marveling at just how many people were there – visitors and exhibitors. It’s far more than a gardening show – there’s lots to see, do, participate in and enjoy.
The organizers have obviously put a lot of thought into layout, signage, variety of exhibitors and free space vs exhibition space. There’s plenty of opportunity to sit, have a break and relax in between spaces – something we took full advantage of yesterday.
While there is a huge gardening section – it is Ireland’s biggest garden festival – there’s also a great Food Village with lots of exhibitors; there’s a Style and Entertainment stage with fashion shows, live music and the like and there’s also a Craft Village, with retailers, information stands and tents and demonstrations where you can get great information and find out new things.
If there’s some advice I could offer you for tomorrow or Monday, it’s this…
PLAN YOUR VISIT
Check the website, see if there’s stuff you really want to see. Bring a blanket or cushion for sitting on, bring a jumper or cardigan no matter how warm it might seem (remember, it is in the Phoenix Park) and check if there are any discounts to be had – the Irish Times ran a 2-for-1 today, for example.
Even though there’s an ATM on site, there’s still lots to buy, from arts and crafts to food to flowers. There’s stuff you won’t know you wanted until you see it…
You’ll thank me for this one. Remember, the place is huge and it would take a good four or five hours to have a stroll around and see everything. It opens at 10am.
HAVE SOME FOOD
There are LOTS of eating options at Bloom. More than I could possibly photograph. Some of my favourites below:
TAKE TIME TO LOOK AROUND
That might seem a bit weird to point out, but dotted all over the place are pieces of art or sculpture – some great, some not so much, but still fun.
SEE THE GARDENS
It mightn’t seem obvious, but some of our group never made it as far as the gardens (while I never saw the Floral Display Marquee) – so definitely go and see the gardens – there are 27 in all, but you’d see them all in an hour.
Some of my personal highlights were the Chinese garden Ire-Su by Qin Huang and Libo Han; Riverrun – the Dublin UNESCO city of Literature Garden by Maryann Harris; Fiann O’Nuallain & the Asthma Society’s Treat Not Trigger, the asthma and allergy friendly garden; Mark O’Loughlin’s Alice in Wonderland Sanctuary Garden and Damien Costello’s A Place of Belonging for Focus Ireland.
While I wouldn’t consider Bloom to be very cheap (tickets are €20/concessions €12), it definitely is a day out where you get what you pay for and as such, it’s difficult to see better value anywhere in Dublin this weekend.
Many of the people today left with bags, crates, boxes, trolleys – and in a couple of cases, wheelbarrows – of food, plants and gifts – there’s some great bargains and advice to be had. I’d suggest that entry next year might include a food or drink voucher, redeemable to the value of €5 at a food stand – it’d be a nice little added bonus!
I’m thinking of bringing the folks up from Kilkenny on Monday, weather and their energy levels dependent. If not, definitely next year. One of the (unexpectedly) best days out I’ve had this year.