Bloom in the Phoenix Park sees ‘strong trade’ with a surge in the numbers gardening following the pandemic

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Bloom is marking one of its most popular years at the festival, despite the gloomy June weather – with ticket sales expected to surpass expectations.

ome 80pc of ticket holders chose to brave the rain today and traders in plants, food and drink reported an increase in sales compared to previous years.

The rainy weather failed to put a dampener on Bord Bia’s Phoenix Park festival 15 years after it first opened, and two years after the pandemic paused the gathering.

A public hunger for all things horticultural has indeed risen post Covid – with thousands attending today and across the weekend.

Billy Alexander, who runs Kells Bay Gardens, is running a fern stall at the festival and trade was so brisk he had to drive home to Co Kerry on a 12-hour journey to restock on Friday to avoid running out today.

“Trade has been really strong and I had a decision to make, to restock or not to restock,” Billy, 60,” told Independent.ie.

Kells Bay Gardens won a gold at the festival and given the action at the stall, with a queue of customers, it was perhaps no surprise.

Billy previously scooped a gold at the 2021 Royal Chelsea Flower Show and he was on hand offering customers advice on how to handle their newly bought ferns today.

“Ferns are popular because they’re easy to maintain and they give off a tranquil, peaceful feeling,” he said.

“There are thousands of species and they can brighten up a garden or a home.

“It’s definitely vibrant at Bloom this year. The public are eager to buy. Remember a pandemic had many problems, but one of the pluses was so many people got into gardening. And that trend appears to be continuing.”

Meanwhile Fiona Falconer, who co-owns Wild About, a multi-award winning eco-friendly food company, with husband, Malcolm, was very busy at her stall in the food market today.

Fiona, who set the business up 10 years ago, after selling the family home in London and leaving behind a successful career as a documentary filmmaker – said she’s never been so busy at Bloom.

“Trade is fantastic at Bloom this year, it’s very busy,” Fiona said. “People really want our product, as an ethical, sustainable business.

“We have a biodiversity farm down in Wexford. We don’t use any chemicals or sprays and we work seasonally, so the range changes but we specialise in Irish native wild ingredients.

“We’re actually Ireland’s first commercial nettle firm.”

Fiona said she traded in a successful, busy media life in Britain’s capital and has never once looked back. The mother-of-four said “happiness” became much more important to her in her 40s, than a pressurised life.

The businesswoman and farmer believes the Irish public is also starting to view life as she does after the pandemic.

“People are thinking much more about eating and drinking what’s good for them, reducing stress and looking after themselves,” she said.

“One example of that is that my nettle products outsell everything else by 10 times. Nettles are looked at as though they’re a pest but in fact they’re full of goodness and are so natural.”

Fiona admitted though that she does put a drop of nettle drink in her mojitos and margaritas to add a little nature to the cocktails.

 

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