After a long cool spring, summer actually arrived on time this year and with it came that five day hiatus at the end of May when the RHS puts on its annual showcase in London, The Chelsea Flower Show, while across the pond here in Ireland we’ve just had our Bloom Festival, celebrated each year during the June Bank Holiday weekend.
Always chock-a-block with amazing plants and planting schemes, the Great Chelsea Spring Show has consistently managed to combine old-worldly traditional charm with contemporary cutting edge garden design and all the latest trends in horticultural development.
We’ve never been to the Chelsea Flower show, and as much as we’d love the experience of visiting the truth is we’ll probably never get to visit and for many diverse reasons prime of which is we live in a different country. But, the hay was saved once again as the BBC did what it does best each year when it goes into saturation coverage mode. So although we’ll probably never get to go to Chelsea, at least we still get to take part in this annual floral extravaganza from a distance, and we still get to see The Great Pavilion and the Show Gardens. We also get the Behind the Scenes looks at things, and can even take part (viewers in the UK) in the voting of The People’s Choice Awards not to mention the spin-offs, repeats and more fringe adaptations than you’d have seen on a 1964 episode of Top of the Pops.
And we had Monty, and Carol, and a breezy looking Diarmuid; and there was Gold and Gilt galore, dashed hopes and career-breakthroughs, new cultivar debuts and Bests in Show. And there was good food and banter, sunshine and showers, expert gardening tips, and before the presenters could shake a brolly at a passing downpour or we could set our Smartphone reminder to alert us to the live daily updates and streams… it was all over. Done and dusted. And as Saturday’s plant sell-off got under way the meticulously planned planting schemes were suddenly and unceremoniously thrown into reverse, as the process of uprooting and moving the show’s gardens to some other more permanent elsewhere had begun and the Royal Hospital’s ground beds were cleared for another year.
The period from mid May to end of June is (in the northern hemisphere at least) the high point of the gardening year, and so it is no accident that most of the big gardening fetes and floral festivals are timed for this period. We here in the Emerald Isle purely by dint of geographic proximity and a shared cultural history of over 800 years get to watch this great British summer tradition every year, and it was no great surprise when12/13 years ago, one of our own quasi autonomous governmental organisations decided we here, in Ireland, needed Our Own Chelsea! Okay, so it wasn’t the most auspicious moment in slogan development, but rather naively and frustratingly that’s how the idea was originally pitched. And so it was that in the summer of 2006 the Phoenix Park played host to, and we attended the very 1st Bloom Festival, Ireland’s premiere food and gardening fair…
However in the ten years it has been in operation our BLOOM festival has developed its own unique identity and dare we say that it is only in the last year or two it actually seems comfortable in its own clothes.
In our desire to keep the experience fresh (and our pockets in good health) we attend only every other year, and as this year marked the tenth anniversary of the festival we were certainly going to do so again. Of course our daughter was also involved with talk and discussion sessions through the GIY organization on three of the five days, so of course we were attending this year..
As with all outdoor events the weather is the one uncontrollable element that no amount of planning can legislate for and many’s the time it has put a dampener on things, and although at present there seems to be an extended band of unsettled weather right across mainland Europe with record rainfalls and flash-flooding, we here in Ireland have enjoyed a welcome period of relatively settled and sunny weather which has not only helped the event planners and the Show Garden designers prepare, but has also enthused the public to attend in greater numbers than normal.
So over the coming days we’ll embark on a hindsight excursus or two here on Monster in The Corner as we post the odd photo from Ireland’s premiere food and gardening festival…so, here are some for starters.