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Bloom Star Launches Clew Bay Garden Trail

Leonie Cornelius
Leonie Cornelius (Blume Design House) speaking at the launch of Clew Bay Garden Trail 2013 in Connacht Gold Garden Centre, Westport.

Inclement weather conditions didn't curb the enthusiasm of gardening folk at the launch of the Clew Bay Garden Trail at Connacht Gold Garden Centre, Westport recently. A lively crowd gathered to welcome TV and Bloom star, Leonie Cornelius, to Westport and hear her insights into creating a show garden for a big event like Bloom. Most of the 12 garden owners who are part of the Clew Bay Garden Trail 2013 were there including Cormac Langan (Westport College of Further Education, Newport Road) and Genie Keating (Cuan d'Or, Cloghan) whose gardens are first to open to the public, on the weekend of 14-16 June. 

Máireád de Burca (Ard Oileain, Rosmalley) welcomed everyone and announced that over €11,000 was raised for charities in 2012 by Clew Bay Garden Trails. Admission to the gardens is free, but a donation to a specified charity is requested on entry. Máireád said, "A garden is a very personal thing, like a canvas to an artist, it is a disclosure of self and welcoming visitors to your garden is a big step for any gardener to take". She went on to talk about the im portance of involving young people in gardening saying, "It is important to foster a love of the environment and an understanding of food miles in young people".

Paul Kirwan, Manager of Connacht Gold Garden Centre, said, "We are delighted to support Clew Bay Garden Trail for the second year. Gardening in the West is quite a challenge and this Trail shows people just what is possible in gardens in this area. The diversity of the gardens in the brochure is really remarkable and I hope it will build enthusiasm in new and young gardeners". He asked people to support Irish nurseries by buying plants which are raised here rather than imported from abroad, and also offered support to the members of the Clew Bay Garden Trail saying, "If any of the Clew Bay Garden Trail members need replacement plants just before their gardens open to the public, we'll be delighted to supply them". He also offered to have expert staff from Connacht Gold Garden Centre on hand at all of the Open Days to help and to offer advice to visitors.

Award winning garden designer and TV presenter, Leonie Cornelius then spoke, saying how happy she was to be at such an event. "It has never been more important than now to create spaces of beauty", she said, "Creating a personal garden over time is one thing, inviting people into that garden is quite another thing altogether and I respect you hugely for doing this". Leonie talked about her experiences at Bloom in The Phoenix Park, Dublin, where she is currently building a show garden. She explained the pressures involved and how it differs from developing a garden at home. She invited everyone at the launch to visit her at Bloom 2013 on the June Bank Holiday Weekend. Her show garden at Bloom this year is very appropriately entitled ”A Love Letter to the West’ and is based on the beauty and spirit of the West. Leonie's first foray at Bloom last year was very successful - she won a Gold Medal and Best In Category. Fingers crossed for this talented Leitrim garden designer at this year's event.

The Clog Factory
Part of the garden The Clog Factory owned by Evleen Mulloy, which is one of the Clew Bay Garden Trail gardens.

Cormac Langan also spoke and reminded garden visitors to be aware that some gardens contain bee hives and open ponds so anyone bringing children should take care to supervise them. Also, some gardens contain steps and different levels so it is wise to check beforehand whether a particular garden is accessible to wheelchairs.

The Clew Bay Garden Trail was a huge success last year and for 2013 the brochure features a dozen glorious gardens. The Clew Bay Garden Trail is a chain of private gardens in Westport and the surrounding area which will open to the public on selected days during the summer of 2013. The gardens range from well established to newly created and from compact town plots to 2 acre expanses. Some are organic, some designed for wildlife, some mostly vegetable and some a profusion of flowers. The only charge is a donation to a specified charity at the garden gate. It's a lovely way to spend a few hours on a summer day.

The launch and some of the gardens on the Trail were filmed by Irish TV for broadcast on their Sky 'Out and About in Ireland' programme. Brochures for Clew Bay Garden Trail 2013 are available from Westport Tourist Information Office. Full details are also available on the website (www.clewbaygardentrail.com).

Source: Hortitrends News Room