I enjoyed my day at Bloom this year, a very pleasant day, some very good gardens, some nice plants purchased to bring home, met and chatted with friends but there were also reasons to grumble – perhaps gardeners are a grumbling lot!
Some gardeners/horticulturalists of my acquaintance, amateur and professional, have expressed a disappointment with Bloom 2018. There were fewer gardens, fewer nurseries, less plants, less gardening – such that the name “Bloom”, many feel, has now become a misnomer.
Each year, in advance of the Bloom festival, all promotional material seems to exclusively feature gardens and flowers yet the attendee on visiting might consider him/herself a victim of false and misleading information for areas of gardening interest are far outnumbered by other areas, food-related stands high among them. There were eight large gardens; six medium; four small and one Feature Garden along with the winning garden from the Super Garden competition run by RTE in association with Bloom, Woodies and Cuprinol. I enjoyed most of the gardens though disappointed that there were less than in previous years. It may be called “Bloom” but gardens and gardening do not seem to get sufficient nor hoped for prominence and visiting gardeners were disappointed by the drop in the number of participating plant nurseries and the lack of gardening events – talks/demonstrations – at the festival.
However, despite gardeners’ disappointment, Bloom is a success with an attendance in the region of 120,000 this year. It may simply be a case that a purely gardening festival is not commercially viable here in Ireland. Our gardening community is small and the organisers of such events must appeal to as wide as possible an attendance to ensure financial success. It is something we see reflected in garden/lifestyle centres all around the country. There are fewer and fewer and fewer which deal solely in plants and the restaurant/coffee shop is often times a bigger source of income that the plants and Bloom is, perhaps, the biggest example of this trend. Nonetheless, it is a disappointment that a festival which declares itself a garden festival seems to be allowing the gardening side of the festival to diminish year on year.