New festival draws global talent

Large garden show planned for Ireland this month.

Garden festival chiefs have had cause to celebrate and commiserate after launching a show in Ireland while seeing their hopes dashed of resurrecting an international event in England. The three-month festival debuts outside Dublin on 29 June and is inspired by France’s Chaumont-sur-Loire and Canada’s Metis. The 22ha garden at Emo Court, County Laois, will be dotted with 15 landscapes by designers from Germany, Italy, Australia and the US. Garden designer Rosaleen Flanagan masterminded and invested in the International Garden Festival, themed on “roots: gardens evoking a sense of belonging”, she said. She is working with TJM Associates, based in Frome, Somerset, which launched the English forerunner at nearby Westonbirt in 2002 to a media fanfare. Funding and site problems torpedoed the event after 2004 and attempts to relaunch in the Midlands and more recently north-west England failed. “We had a great site in the North West surrounded by an urban mindset that was in tune with what we were doing but it fell through,” said TJM partner Thérèse Lang. “We are unashamedly urban but the Middle England ethos of the previous site wasn’t always in step with the show’s culture.” Westonbirt was also hampered by restrictions on building land art and creating a sense of arrival, she said. “But we now have a site in mind in the South. It’s heartbreaking: a festival like this is more needed than ever before but the English aren’t getting behind it enough. “We have a fantastic database of the world’s most exciting talent wanting to know what’s happening with the festival. We fight on.” * For details, visit

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