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Wood Marketing Federation-Woodcollective project wins Silver Gilt Medal at the Bloom Garden Festival

Wood and food in Garden of Plenty in Bloom   (click to see brochure here)

Irish timber processors in the Wood Marketing Federation  and food producers combined this year at Bloom to create a unique garden. Designed by Eugene Boyle, The Garden of Plenty – Sustainable Living which won the Silver Gilt medal. It was the first time that this combination – food and wood – was attempted at an Irish exhibition, which is surprising as both are compatible in many ways.

The Garden of Plenty – Sustainable Living, is a small interpretative and productive garden that began life at 8th Festival Internacional de Jardins de Ponte de Lima in Portugal last summer. The visitors to the Ponte de Lima festival would certainly appreciate the wood and drink connection as it just north of Douro Valley where the famous port wine is stored in oak barrels. The garden was voted best design by an overwhelming majority of the 100,000 visitors.

Bloom is a collaboration between the Wood Marketing Federation and Woodcollective. It features over 50 varieties of vegetables, fruit and herbs supported and enclosed by timber and timber products, sourced from sustainably managed forests in Ireland.

Both organisations are known for their work in promoting wood.  WMF works with timber processors, research agencies, timber treaters and State companies to promote timber as a renewable, sustainable and versatile natural material.

Garden of Plenty, winner of the Silver Gilt medal at Bloom, before the arrival of the estimated 110,000 visitors.

But why Bloom which is essentially a horticulture and food festival?  “The combination of food and wood is an ideal mix according,” to Paul Harvey, chairman, Wood Marketing Federation. “The Garden of Plenty is essentially about sustainable living and wood, the greatest renewable resource,  is a key element of the exhibition,” he says.

Eugene Boyle made a number of changes to the Portuguese garden, to cater for an Irish environment and audience. “The ideas underlying the garden are layered like the soil that feeds it and the sustainable wood that supports and encloses it,” he maintains. “It links the forest and the garden by drawing on cyclical themes and natural systems on which both depend for growth and regeneration.”

The Garden of Plenty was located close to the Victorian walled kitchen in the Phoenix Park It contrasts with the walled garden, which is a permanent space, but there are many similarities. Both inspire and educate the public about sustainable living and the growing of garden plants.

Eugene began the project over a year ago when he completed the first phase for the Portugal project. His company – Woodcollective – and WMF combined to organise the Irish exhibition in co-operation with 20 different organisations involved in horticulture, wood processing, woodworking and craft to create a garden for an Irish environment and audience.

Padraig and Louise O’Shaughnessy of Aqua Landscapes began growing the vegetables and herbs for the exhibition earlier this year in tunnels before moving them outdoors. “As a result of the prolonged cold spring, all plants are over two weeks late so we are fighting against the clock this year,” Padraig said. However all plants comprising fruit, herbs and vegetables were successfully established.

Timber was sourced mainly in Coillte’s sustainably managed forests and was processed and shaped into a wide range of sizes and products to facilitate the unique design of the garden. It provides a temporary enclosure as well as supporting the raised beds and other features.

There was a strong collaboration element to the project. The Murray Timber Group provided the home grown timber structure from its sawmill in Ballygar. The eased edged planed all over looked magnificent in the Phoenix Park setting.

Coillte Panel Products provided the oriented strandboard (OSB) which enclosed two sides of the Garden of Plenty. Laois Sawmills were responsible for supplying bark mulch. The structure was built by the Wicklow company John Staunton (Glenealy) Ltd. Minister Simon Coveney opened the Garden of Plenty and the project was supported by his Department.

Eugene Boyle (left) who designed the award winning Garden of Plenty with Patrick Murray, Murray Group who supplied the timber for the exhibition and Paul Harvey (right), chairman Wood Marketing Federation who sponsored the exhibition.

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