Irish exhibition sets out to rival standards of British RHS shows

Goal of new Irish garden show is to create a strong public showcase that rivals British events.

A new exhibition that is billing itself as Ireland’s answer to RHS shows is seeking to attract British garden designers and exhibitors. The first Bloom show will be held at Dublin’s Phoenix Park on 1-4 June 2007. Organisers expect 100 exhibitors and 50,000-70,000 visitors. The show is aimed at families and is intended to be uniquely Irish. Project manager Gary Graham of Irish food and horticulture department Bord Bia said: “We need a quality event on Irish soil so we don’t have to send everyone to Chelsea and Hampton Court. “We don’t have a good tradition of successful garden shows in Ireland. Some have been good but have folded. “Our RHS is not as active or sophisticated as the British RHS, so there is not a body that has organised shows that have horticulture at their heart. “Instead, they have been exhibition organisers who want to make money. They don’t get the RHS-standard plant displays or the gardens, so everyone goes away feeling a little disappointed. “We are planning something very different. We have good relations with all the local industry bodies. “They recognise the need for a very public showcase,” he added. “There’s a small window in the horticulture show calendar. “We do want to attract British designers and exhibitors. It’s an opportunity for them to dip a toe in the Irish market and take advantage of the great economy and high consumer spending. The Celtic Tiger is still roaring.” A Bord Bia survey found garden spending on gardens has doubled in five years. Graham added: “It’s an indication of the buoyancy we have here. I know it’s going the other way in Britain, but we’re still on the up.” He expects extensive television and press coverage. Irish garden designer Diarmuid Gavin may also be involved. Chelsea medallists Elma Fenton and Paul Martin have confirmed that they will be among 20 garden designers building show gardens. Joint owner Orla Woods of County Wexford-based Kilmurry Nursery, a Chelsea 2006 gold winner, said: “This is exactly what’s needed for Irish horticulture. I was at BBC Gardeners’ World Live last week and a show of the same type in Ireland would be wonderful. “To have a British RHS standard is the aim, so people will know what to expect,” she added.

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