The ‘Green Cities Garden’ at Bloom took a different approach to the meaning of show garden

For this year’s Bord Bia Bloom, Daibhí MacDomhnaill of Áit Urbanism and Landscape created a garden that demonstrates how greening in even the tightest spaces of our towns and inner cities is possible. ‘Green Cities Garden’, a collaboration between Green Cities Europe, Bord Bia and Dublin City Council, presented an opportunity to do two things, says Daibhí. “When we were asked to assist with a design for the garden at Bloom, we jumped at the chance as it allowed us to raise awareness of the work that people are doing to green cities and also to experiment a little.”

That experimentation included roll-out Irish wildflower meadow and gaps in kerbing around the outside of the garden to divert rainwater from the road. “By taking out two or three parking spaces along the street, we’ve created a little parklet. The purpose of the parket is to showcase what can be achieved by making such small changes to a street. Maybe these are spaces that people could use to sit in, kids could play and explore in. When you have trees and planting on a street, it goes a long way to make that street more comfortable; greening also reduces the wind tunnelling you get between buildings and trees and provides shade, something that will become more important as our climate continues to warm up.”

Repurposed materials used to create Green Cities Garden will be recycled after the festival. “They’ll be used in other projects around the city. The materials that we’ve selected for the garden are quite simple; we opted for standard paving slabs used by Dublin City Council throughout the city, old garden railings have been repurposed into frames for the climbing plants, kerbing came from a Dublin City Council depot and the simple timber cubes used for seating came from a fallen tree.”

Daibhí also took a different approach to how trees are utilised in the garden. “When we think of a street tree, we often think of a lollipop-type tree with a clear stem, planted individually. What if street tree planting was a bit more naturalistic? What if you had groves of native trees that created little micro forests in the city? The great thing about planting trees in a cluster is that they grow better and they support each other.”

The Green Cities Garden reflects the work carried out by Dublin City Council over the last 10 years to green our city. “Áit Urbanism and Landscape started working with Dublin City Council about a decade ago on the Liberties Greening Strategy. That project gave the entire area a huge lift. An area that had no parks today has some of the best parks in the city. We work closely with Leslie Moore, Head of Parks Services at DCC and the work they have done is tremendous.”

The ‘Green Cities’ initiative has been created to challenge as well as encourage planners, architects, local authorities and builders to incorporate and innovate green spaces in their work, new and revisited. “We work very closely with architects and engineers and we try and engage with them as early as possible. Good greening starts with good site planning and the right arrangements of streets and spaces. I think Green Cities Garden is a good way of showing that greening our cities and towns needn’t be difficult.


Michael McDonnell – Managing Editor of Irish Construction Industry Magazine & Plan Magazine


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