A rare Bloom for 2020: Bloom at Home

Photo courtesy bordbiabloom.com

Geneva Pattison

With the ongoing restrictions on public gatherings and events, the annual Bloom in the Park event was a little bit different on this occasion.
Bord Bia announced in a recent press release that they were “bringing a flavour of Ireland’s largest gardening and lifestyle festival into your home” this year. On Sunday May 31st, the Bord Bia social media channels and www.bordbiabloom.com hosted a series of online gardening talks, live Q&As and cookery demonstrations to mark the occasion.
To kick off the event, President Michael D. Higgins gave his opening address, which was given remotely from Áras an Uachtaráin. The President touched on many subjects such as the legacy of Bloom, the resilience of nature and the effect that covid-19 has had on our wellbeing.
He also spoke about the importance of biodiversity, sustainable food production and our collective responsibility to curb climate change. President Higgins made a very poignant comment in the latter half of his speech, saying that there are “lessons for the state and private sector to learn” in relation to what is deemed appropriate housing for people, and with regards to “access to open space, particularly shared open space.”
Online cooking demonstrations on Facebook were given by Neven Maguire on how to cook a delicious-looking bok choy steak salad and later by Donal Skehan, who made summery lamb shish kebabs with pickled vegetables.
The online gardening talks covered a range of topics such as gardening for wellbeing, plants through history as well as garden design for smaller outdoor spaces.
Gary Graham, the show manager of Bloom, with Paul Maher a former curator of the Botanic gardens and Fiann Ó Nualláin, the holistic gardener, discussed choice plants as they strolled through the Victorian kitchen garden in the Phoenix Park.
Garden designers Andrew Dunne, Jane McCorkrell and Oliver Schurmann took part in a panel and answered many questions about gardening during lockdown.
The people of Bloom also shared tips and tricks on how to get your garden looking its best during the summer on the Bloom website.
Tara McCarthy, the CEO of Bord Bia stated on the website: “Although we can’t host Bord Bia Bloom in the Phoenix Park this year, Bloom At Home is a chance for us to celebrate the start of summer with the festival’s many fans and participants. For the past thirteen years, Bloom has become a platform for Bord Bia to highlight the joys of gardening and indigenous horticulture and promote the best of Irish artisan food and drink, while also raising awareness around important issues such as climate change and sustainability. These topics are as vital as ever as we navigate the current crisis in our own homes and communities. Through Bloom At Home we want to recognise one of most important elements of the annual festival during the Covid-19 crisis; the coming together of many different facets of Irish society on the June Bank Holiday weekend.”
Bord Bia in conjunction with RTÉ ran a competition to encourage people to keep the spirit of Bloom alive this year by sharing pictures and videos of their garden and plants with them on social media. You can view all garden and plant photos of those who got involved by searching the hashtag #BloomwithRTE or #BloomAtHome on Instagram and Facebook.
Gary Graham, the Bord Bia Bloom Show Manager, has also stated on the website: “Covid-19 has brought us many challenges but it has also given some us more time to experience the joy of gardening at what is the most exciting time of year for growing and planting. In May, when temperatures are on the up and frosty nights are rare, there is so much to do, whatever your location, budget or skill set. A gardening project is a great way to fill your time at home and get your creative juices flowing.
Try building a bug hotel and re-wilding an area for wildlife, or plant some pollinators and make some space for birds. We’re encouraging everyone, no matter what space they have available, to get out there and give it a go!”
Videos of cooking demonstrations, gardening panels and discussions are available to watch on Facebook. You can view all the Bloom news and events online by visiting their website, Instagram, Facebook page or by following the hashtag #BloomAtHome.
Happy gardening and stay safe!

The Bord Bia Bloom at Home webpage.
The Bloom Instagram
The Bloom Facebook page