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Garden Talks: Peter Donegan, Dublin Castle. Bloom Fringe 2017

Bloom Fringe 2017 took place June Bank Holiday weekend.

Far from the show gardens that I have made, Le Fringers and the very merry possé, it is fair to suggest, do things quite beautifully different.

Of elevator pitches, they suggest that Bloom Fringe makes the gritty city pretty. As I know it, it’s a heck of a lot more than that.

From The Sodshow Garden Podcast, one of the organisers Esther Gerrard explains it so much better.

Whilst audio may explain one part, visually what was actually happening in the town that I love so well was literally unbelievable.

In short, I don’t think I’ve ever heard anyone, never mind in multiples, laughing so much – in this space.

Over the 2 days and there I met Kilkenny based grower Pat Fitzgerald, Sara Venn from Incredible Bristol, Marie Overgaard Nielsen from Aarhus, the wonderful team from The Church, Fiona Kelly, Hugh Cassidy, Jay the gent from Hardwicke, Jane Perrone, Lee Connolly and Nadia who wrote an amazing post on the weekend called Reflections of Community – the list is endless.

These were I should add just some the people I already knew. In my wildest dreams, this would not ever have happened here, without Bloom Fringe and definitely not (no offence) in an area that is grey paving, one cow (bronze) and some 10mm pebble.

peter donegan, esther gerrard, marion keogh, roisin de buitlear, jane perrone, siobhan sheep, bloom fringe

And when people want and wish to use a space where there they giggle, smile and chat where the common bond is something photosynthesic – be it your back garden or the heart of Dublin City Centre – I find that something utterly wonderful.

Some messages were slightly more thought-provoking including this by Sam Bishop.

And though change is being made, there was a highlight point were one wee girl came running up to her Mom, beaming smile upon her face proclaiming the ice cream cake she had made; entirely of mud. Something that could not take place again tomorrow – but also could.

As was noted to me, I’ve been paid to install mud kitchens, wild flower gardens, hills made of lawn into gardens – things that I design and build. The Bloom Fringe girls managed to capture the imaginations of so many in but a few moments.

I like that the girls are involved with the good, happy, heart tickling type of change. I also like that whilst change is very much their agenda, there is also a big beaming smile on Roisín de Buitlear’s happy face on that first image above; Esther took time to place chess on the streets with someone she had never met before, fellow organiser Marion Keogh moved (and yapped) at a million miles per second, whilst somehow or other everything seamlessly seemed to happen; and whilst I was not on stage, myself and Sara Venn took time to goof about within Dublin Castle.

sara venn, peter donegan, goofing at dublin castle

My role there was to conduct (I can’t think of a better word at just this minute) the garden related talks that took place Live from Dublin Castle on the Saturday and also from Wolfe Tone Square (sponsored by The Church Bar) on The Sunday; and yet again, it was an absolute honour to be one element of one giant-sized happening.

The episodes recorded Live at Dublin Castle and Wolfe Tone Sq Dublin will release over the next months in iTunes, good podcast stores and on

More info on Bloom Fringe:

And thank you ladies. It was again, an honour.

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