Sun safety, gender inequality and understanding dementia are among the health and charity themes at Bord Bia’s Bloom

Top garden designers and charities collaborate to create a number of topically themed show gardens

An interactive garden that protects you from UV rays, bespoke gardens for people with dementia and varying abilities plus inspirational gardens highlighting the global challenge of gender inequality and the role of ‘Human Rights Defenders’ are among the stunning show gardens bringing health and charity themes to life at Bloom 2018. Run by Bord Bia and now in its 12th year, Bloom takes place in the Phoenix Park, Dublin for five days from May 31st – June 4th and showcases the best of Ireland’s horticultural and food industry.
Created by some of the most acclaimed Irish and visiting garden designers, the Bloom show gardens have become an engaging, colourful platform for many organisations to communicate strong health and charitable messages.
Sun safety, gender inequality and understanding dementia are among the health and charity themes at Bord Bia's Bloom
‘A SunSmart Garden’ by the Marie Keating Foundation is created by award-winning, UK-based, upcycling specialists Peter Cowell and Monty Richardson (a.k.a. The Hairy Gardeners) to raise awareness of the fact that skin cancer is the fastest growing cancer in Ireland and the importance of being SunSmart. Using trees and props, volunteers will be showing visitors how to protect themselves in the sun. A large balloon sun draws attention to the pervasive nature of UV rays. It floats high above a large oak tree which offers shade from the sun and an opportunity to ‘tie a yellow ribbon around the old oak tree’ as a show of support for those affected by skin cancer.
Sun safety, gender inequality and understanding dementia are among the health and charity themes at Bord Bia's Bloom
‘Moments in Time: Dementia – Understand Together’ is a multi-sensory garden for people with dementia by landscape gardeners Newtown Saunders Ltd, university research centre TrinityHaus and dementia training organisation Sonas apc. This gentle space facilitates understanding, togetherness and connection with nature, drawing on a strong dementia-friendly design evidence base and the lived experience of dementia. It comprises a short multi-sensory walk, central seating area and a gallery installation featuring photographs depicting family, social roles and community as a reminder of the richness of human life and the many memories and skills that a person retains, despite dementia. Visual cues provide guidance and support, while physical objects act as focal points for communication. The garden serves as a template for pop-up dementia-friendly gardens in community parks and public spaces.
Sun safety, gender inequality and understanding dementia are among the health and charity themes at Bord Bia's Bloom
An ‘Enable Ireland Beyond Boundaries Garden’ caters for people of varying abilities and is created by horticulturist and garden designer Linda McKeown to highlight the work of Enable Ireland. The garden can be enjoyed by a wide range of people across all ages and abilities, along with their families. The garden layout is sinuous and organic combining modern materials such as weathered steel arcs, smooth polished concrete paths and a tactile boundary wall. Trees and shrubs provide height and soft structure while lush, naturalistic grasses and herbaceous perennials provide texture, movement and colour. Vertical planting and raised bed planting provide space for herbs and edibles, and glass wind chimes combined with scented planting create an inclusive sensory garden experience accessible to all.

‘No Limits – GOAL’s Garden For Women’ highlights the issue of gender inequality in the developing world by aid agency GOAL. Designed by Cornelia Raftery, this garden depicts a journey from bleak to blossoming by utilising the symbol of a pathway through an African-inspired working landscape. It merges dry arid with lush tropical planting, creatively assembled to highlight the gender inequalities still being faced by millions of women in the developing world. The strength and resilience of women is represented by four tall posts holding large produce-filled baskets. The divide between a garden of low, arid planting transitioning to lush tropically inspired planting is depicted by a barrier slicing across the pathway. This alludes both to the barrier to progress and to GOAL’s interventions which assist change. The goal, or desired result, is represented by the garden culminating in an intimate, relaxed and secluded area.

‘Resistance, a garden for Trocaire’ will represent the plight of Human Rights and Environmental Defenders in the countries of Guatemala, Honduras, Zimbabwe and Palestine. Designed by previous Bloom Gold Medal winner, Barry Kavanagh from Bailieborough in Co. Cavan, it will provide a platform for Trocaire to engage in conversation with visitors about its work with Human Rights Defenders. It will feature pieces of art by Ciaran ‘Yohan’ Brennan, including a mural that represents Trócaire’s work in Israel and Palestine and a sculpture of a young boy with scorched tree trunks as legs. A digital screen will depict those who have lost their lives while defending both human and environmental rights – including some 188 people in 2017 alone.

Community groups around Ireland will create a number of smaller scale postcard gardens at the event which also have strong health and charitable themes. ‘Feast of the Senses’ is an accessible, tranquil sensory garden by the Art & Horticulture Group at the Brothers of Charity, Galway, comprising adults with learning difficulties. ‘Green Ribbon Garden’ by the Shine Basement Resource Centre Cork and See Change symbolises their work to bring about positive change in public attitudes and behaviours towards people with mental health problems.

As well as offering export gardening advice, the Garden Expert Stage will focus on health with Ellen Mary Gardening delivering her Plants for Wellness talks offering tips on how to use your garden to benefit your health.

In addition to the aforementioned show gardens and postcard gardens, the Floral & Nursery Pavilion which will be brimming with flowers and plants from more than 30 of the very best plant nurseries in Ireland; the Garden Expert Stage and AOIFA Floral Art Stage; a Botanical & Floral Art Exhibition; and the Office of Public Works’ Victorian Walled Kitchen Garden located at the centre of the site, allows visitors to learn about the design and layout of this traditional garden structure.

The centrepiece of the Floral & Nursery Pavilion will be a ‘living’ installation designed by Oliver and Liat Schurmann to communicate the role of ‘Origin Green’, the world’s first food and drink sustainability programme operating on a national scale, created by Bord Bia. The semi-circular walls, consisting of 3.5 million seeds and made from wheatgrass, barley, cress and micro-greens, will enclose a miniature town. It will be dripping with water throughout the event and, as 90% of the materials are natural, it will decompose within days.

Food Features
The Bord Bia Food Village will be a bustling culinary hub showcasing the very best of Irish food and drink. This will include more than 100 Irish food producers with health offerings taking to the fore, while the Bord Bia Quality Kitchen Stage which will host cookery demonstrations from some of Ireland’s best loved chefs including Neven Maguire, Catherine Fulvio, Paul Flynn, Oliver Dunne, Rory O’Connell, JP McMahon and Roz Purcell, Gary O’Hanlon and Adrian Martin.

Bord Bia’s ‘7 A day’ under the Rainbow at Bloom feature will highlight the role that fruit and vegetables play in a healthy balanced diet and offer visitors advice on how using the colours of the rainbow can make that target achievable. The GIY Zone returns with the Food Matters Stage, which will be home to daily workshops and debates around topics such as hospital food, mental health, school lunches and gut health. The hub will bring together Ireland’s leading food writers, chefs, nutritionists, healthcare experts and journalists including Professor Donal O’Shea, chef Rory O’Connell, food critic Tom Doorley and Paula Mee, nutritionist. (Stage timetable attached to this email) Elsewhere, GIY host a number of stages each celebrating growing initiatives around the country.

Family Fun
The ‘Budding Bloomers’ children’s area will host a vibrant mixture of family friendly features to keep children of all ages entertained and active in an effort to play, learn and grow at Bloom. This includes Margaret’s Fun on the Farm Kids Zone; Paddy’s Plot where children can learn how to grow a sunflower; ‘Away with the Fairies’ which will demonstrate how to make your own fairy garden; and features from Children’s Books Ireland (CBI); Clap Handies; Amnesty International; Billie Bubbles; Scientific Sue; Physics Busting and Food Dudes.
There will also be some 200 retail exhibitors (for shopping), the YouBloom music stage, the Debenhams Fashion Stage and a children’s stage.

Tickets are on sale now on Ticketmaster and can also be purchased on the gate. Ticket prices vary from €16 – €25 and children under 16 go free.
For more information visit or follow Bloom on Facebook and Twitter @bloominthepark.
Returning sponsors for this year’s event include FBD Insurance, Irish Independent and the Office of Public Works.

The GIY Food Matters Stage Timetable

Thursday 31st May 12pm

School Lunches – Think outside the lunchbox

The standard food experience for children in Irish primary schools is wolfing down a sandwich in 10 minutes and running out to the yard to play. Most parents have experience of lunches coming home half eaten or not eaten at all. Given the important role that food and nutrition play in learning and brain health, how do we expect our kids to learn when we don’t give them reasonable time to eat good food in a relaxed manner? GIY’s social eating programme EAT Together mimics the French model of a convivial multi-course school dinner – would Irish schools ever adopt such a model and if not, what alternatives are there to the 10-minute sandwich?

– Michael Kelly (GIY)

– Rory O’Connell (Ballymaloe)

– Mary Rose Sweeney (DCU)

– Anthony Staines (DCU)

Thursday 31st May 1.30pm

Hospital Food – Towards Action and Change

At a time when you most need wholesome, nutritious food to help you heal, most hospitals serve up food that doesn’t meet basic standards of nutrition. Despite public outcry on the issue, we still see social media pictures from concerned patients and relatives of stodgy wedges and bland processed omelettes. What’s the state of our hospital food right now? Do hospital chefs actually cook food from scratch? What role does central procurement play? Is the picture uniform across the country or different from hospital to hospital? What’s the HSE doing about it and why is it taking so long? Are there best practices nationally or internationally that we can learn from?

– Professor Donal O’Shea (Operation Transformation)

Friday 1st June 12pm

Mental Health in Hospitality

The hospitality industry is notorious for long hours, incredibly stressful work environments, and a lack of attention to the health of those that work in it. While looking after the needs of other people all day, more often than not, hospitality staff forget to look after themselves. There’s a change afoot however. Organisations such as Eurotoque are introducing programmes to encourage chefs to mind their mental health and some leading restaurants are shutting down for more days each week to allow chefs to take the time off they need. Is creating a healthier and more nurturing work environment the key to overcoming the shortage of chefs in the industry?

– Ruth Hegarty (Chef Network)

Friday 1st June 1.30pm

Gut Health

If you google ‘gut and health’ you will find scholarly articles connecting the health of our gut with a wide gamut of human health conditions from coeliac disease to autism and obesity to depression. Is it possible that a healthy population of gut microbes can be the key to good health, and if so, how do we get them? What’s the cutting edge of research in this area telling us about how much we understand guts? What practical steps can we take to improve the health of our most mis-understood organ?

– Dearbhla Reynolds (Cultured Club)

– Paula Mee (Gut Feeling)


Saturday 2nd June 12pm

Root to Stem

All too often, we tend to view some parts of fruit, veg and herb plants as edible and other parts as inedible. In fact, with some exceptions, most parts of vegetable plants are edible and delicious with a little bit of creativity. Did you know that beetroot is actually a 3-in-1 veg with the root, stem and leaves all edible? Do you throw away your carrot tops? Can broad bean leaves be an interesting addition to an early summer salad? Touted as an answer to food waste and food mountains, this fascinating panel discussion will look at how and why to eat the bits we usually throw away.

– Dee Laffan (IFWG)

– Tom Doorley (Food Critic & Broadcaster)

– JB Dubois (GROW HQ)

Saturday 2nd June 1.30pm

What’s the beef with salmon? Ireland’s relationship with fish

Despite us being an island nation and having a fishing industry that is worth €1.1bn each year and employing 11,000 people, it’s fair to say we have a somewhat strange and strained relationship with fish. With exports of €543m per annum, do our customers in other countries value our fish products more than we do? Why are we importing hundreds of millions of euros of fish annually? And perhaps the most crucial question, how often have you surveyed the beautiful array of fish in a fish-mongers before settling on a few salmon fillets? Why are we so unadventurous when it comes to buying and cooking fish?

Sunday 3rd June 12pm

Death of Family Dinners

It’s a sign of the times that restaurant delivery chain Just Eat saw its annual revenues rise to nearly £700m this year. Clearly, families are now less and less likely to sit down each evening and eat a home cooked meal together. What’s the impact of this extraordinary societal shift away from the ancient tradition of breaking bread together with family? Does it really matter if families grab a takeaway or if individual family members eat different things and at different times? And in our busy lives, what skills do we need to keep family dinners on the menu?

– Professor Donal O’Shea (Operation Transformation)

Sunday 3rd June 1.30pm

Zero Waste Life- Plastics & Packaging

Quite suddenly, the plastics and packaging issue seems to be having its moment in the sun. Consumer groups are calling retailers out on entirely unnecessary packaging of fruit and vegetables. Retailers argue that consumers will always grab the packaged alternative rather than buying veg and fruit ‘loose’. What’s the impact of our grab and go convenience culture on the planet? Just how much packaging is involved and how much of it is actually recyclable? Above all, what can we do about it and who is leading the way?

– Dr Cara Augustenborg (Friends of the Earth)

– Timi Nicholson (Simple No Waste Life)

Monday 4th June 12pm

Food in Direct Provision- a year on- what’s changed?

Last year’s Food Matters saw a discussion about the poor quality of food and extreme restrictions placed on asylum seekers living in Direct Provision Centres in Ireland. We met with residents who spoke about the impact of these restrictions on their dignity and their health. A year on, we ask the question – has anything changed? Are cooking facilities being made available? We will consider the reality of food life for Ireland’s Asylum Seekers and speak to those directly involved.

– Caitriona Kelly (GIY)

– Ellie Kisyombe (Our Table)

– Heidi Holden (Irish Refugee Council)

Monday 4th June 1.30pm

Social & Therapeutic Horticulture

The therapeutic benefits of growing and gardening for people with mental ill-health have long been recognised but Social & Therapeutic Horticulture (STH) is still in its infancy as a coordinated, recognised discipline in Ireland. This discussion will look at GIY’s STH programme in various different sectors including drug and alcohol addiction, direct provision centres and in Prisons. We will ask the questions – what impact does it have on participants and what other aspects of physical and mental health could STH be used to ‘treat’?

– Caitriona Kelly (GIY)

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