Preparing to Bloom

Bord Bia Bloom regular, Boyne Garden Centre & Nursery, will join us in the new Nursery Village this June Bank Holiday weekend. AILEEN MULDOON-BYRNE tells us what’s involved in planning for Ireland’s largest gardening festival.

Planning for Bord Bia Bloom starts a year in advance. When one finishes, we are already thinking about the next one. It is the biggest shop window for horticulture in Ireland and a massive part of our business, accounting for approximately 25% of our annual turnover. We sell thousands of flowers at the festival and in the garden centre immediately following the event and we bring all hands on deck to help out. This year, my daughter is coming home from London to work on our stand and she’s bringing my son-in-law and their baby with her – it’s a real family affair.

We are so excited about the return of Bord Bia Bloom and our customers feel the same. These days it seems like every second person is approaching me about it, asking if we are going to be involved this year. There’s a real buzz about the festival, I think people are just so happy to do normal things again! Many of our customers have mentioned that they have booked to come on two days so the pressure is on now to get enough stock to deal with the demand. Over 90% of the plants that we sell in the garden centre are grown in our nursery and we have been busy propagating and potting over the last few months to get ready in time for Bloom. This year we will have Ligusticum, Verbascum, Salvia, Dahlia, Digitalis, and Coreopsis, among others, at our stand.

Aideen Muldoon-Byrne, Boyne Garden Centre

What I love about Bord Bia Bloom is that it is a show for everyone, no matter what your level of expertise. Yes, many accomplished gardeners visit each year but we also get to meet a lot of novices who are just starting to get into gardening and I love talking to them and offering them some advice. They are the future of horticulture in Ireland and it is wonderful to see so many people embrace gardening and look for ways to create more sustainable and biodiverse gardens and outdoor areas. It’s good for their mental and physical health, it’s good for the environment and for wildlife, and of course, it’s very good for business!

When the pandemic hit and Bloom was cancelled in 2020 it was a blow but I never could have predicted how our online business took off. We had been growing thousands of plants for Bloom so we had the stock ready to go and the demand was huge. It was a terrible time for the country and for us personally – I lost my father to Covid – but one positive that came out of all the lockdowns was how many people rediscovered the joy of spending time outdoors and doing simple things, like planting a flower and watching it grow. We are growers first and foremost, our lives are centred around plants, so we get such a thrill when we see customers get excited about growing things too. It makes our job so rewarding.

Boyne Garden Centre & Nursery has won numerous awards at Bord Bia Bloom, including a silver-gilt medal, eight gold medals and two Best in Show Awards. Meet Aileen and the team at the new Nursery Village at Bord Bia Bloom this year. You can book tickets for your preferred day here.