So that’s a wrap for another year. Last Tuesday saw us complete the breakdown of the Bloom 2017 garden. A process which began before Christmas when the initial submission invitation e mails started to arrive culminated in the past week with the careful dismantling and relocation of all the elements of the garden to the Dogs Trust headquarters in Finglas in North Dublin.
There they will stay, parked for a week or two while we catch our breath ahead of the beginning of the reinstallation of the garden there as a permanent facility. The hope is that the permanent garden will fulfill its intended role as a valuable tool in educating prospective adopting families as to what is possible and achievable in a garden which is to be shared with a dog.
Taking on the design, construction and relocation of a Show Garden for an event as prestigious as Bloom in the Park has now become is quite the commitment. There is the development of the initial concept and outline idea, repeated and protracted meetings with the sponsor, redesigns, research, programming, budgeting, logistics, procurement, endless nursery visits and administrative tasks, the build itself, the PR and media aspects. These things need to be undertaken and executed to a high standard to ensure a successful outcome in relation to judging and in conveying a strong and coherent message on behalf of the benefactor.
The days are long, the commitment total. And I suppose now as the dust settles it is the demands and arduousness of the process which makes it particularly gratifying to look back upon a job well done. There are not many realms wherein as wide a range of a person’s skills are tested to such a degree.
We hear talk of learning curves, steep ones. The last three years of building Show Gardens at Bloom are the steepest learning curves I have ever experienced. The compressed and immovable nature of the time frames necessitate getting to grips with the subject matter quickly and comprehensively. Each build throws up technical challenges which need to be figured out, each design will have its own peculiarities and quirks which need to be tamed.
And then there is the planting. It being a horticultural showcase quite obviously the horti goodies will always need to be front and centre. In 2015 I learned everything there was to know about herbaceous planting in a family garden, in 2016 I went on a crash course on middle eastern planting and in 2017 I got a thorough education on planting as it relates to canine toxicity. Ask me anything.
Bloom 2017 received 120 000 visitors, its best ever year. Chelsea had, in terms of head turning Show Gardens, what many visitors assured me was its worst ever year. Brexit and the general turmoil over there I’m sure were the primary reasons for this.
By my reckoning then Bloom 2018 is perfectly positioned to make even further strides in prestige. Instead of the traditional and presumed route of the best of Irish designers eventually staging a garden at Chelsea what’s to stop the traffic next year coming the other way? Why can’t the best of Britain’s designers target Bloom as the optimum forum on which to showcase their talent?
And what of Bloom 2018, will I be there? The bad memories of rain soaked build days fade very quickly to be replaced by only the good ones. Events like Bloom run on good vibes, positive energy fills the air. The sun is (mostly) shining, it’s a Bank Holiday weekend, visitors are eating ice cream and in great form, the kids are entertained, the flowers are in full bloom, it’s all sweetness and light. Of all participants in the event the Show Garden designer is best positioned to capitalise on the good vibrations.
You could get very used to standing in the same spot nine hours a day for five days straight with an endless stream of people telling you how much they love your work. Bloom 2018? Defo.