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The nation’s favourite gardener, Monty Don, officially opened the 2013 Airtricity Garden Festival today (Friday 17 May) along with representatives from the Festival’s nominated charity – Cystic Fibrosis Trust – as they jointly unveiled the Cystic Fibrosis Show Garden. The ‘Breath of Fresh Air’ garden will be on show all weekend after which it will be transported and replanted at the Cystic Fibrosis Ward at The Royal Belfast Hospital for Sick Children.
Created pro bono by Landscape Architect Jackie Harte and enabled by Festival sponsor Airticity, the unique Cystic Fibrosis Show Garden incorporates planting which was, at one time, thought to have specific health benefits for Cystic Fibrosis patients and when transplanted to The Royal Belfast Hospital will provide a much needed outdoor space for patients and families. Commenting on the garden Linda Alexander from Cystic Fibrosis Trust stated, “ We are absolutely delighted to be the chosen charity for this fantastic event. The feature garden is going to make such a difference to our young cystic fibrosis patients who have to stay in hospital for up to two weeks or more for treatments. It will enable patients and their families take “A Breath of Fresh Air’ helping make their stay in hospital a much more pleasant experience.”
Now in it’s 9th year the Airtricity Garden Festival will take place for the first time in the stunning setting of the private gardens of Hillsborough Castle from 17 – 19 May. Supported by Northern Ireland Tourist Board, Lisburn City Council, Airtricity, Allianz and many other sponsors and patrons the Airtricity Garden Festival is well established as one of Northern Ireland’s leading garden events attracting exhibitors and visitors from all corners of the Island and the rest of the UK.
For gardening purists there is a multitude on offer throughout the weekend. Alongside the Cystic Fibrosis Show Garden there are specialist growers from all over the country including five of last year’s award winners and previous schools silver award winner Our Lady and St Patricks College, Knock. There are gardening clinics with the experts including Monty Don, Frances MacDonald, and Geoff Stebbings who are joined by many of the specialists at the Show. There is flower arranging with Chelsea gold medalist Richard Haslam, over 100,000 plants from specialist nurseries and growers and a host of gardening accessories, tools and equipment all on offer – from climbing frames to climbing plants, garden pods to hammocks – it is all covered.
Beyond the garden there are artisan food companies offering everything from local cider and chutneys to champagne and fresh strawberries – even an organic tea tent! Visitors can enjoy Airtricity Crazy Golf for Cystic Fibrosis, a U105 Garden Gourmet Stage which will entertain visitors with BBQ challenges led by Derek Patterson from The Plough Inn , Jazz from Scott Flanagan and a U105 Roadshow hosted by Pamela Ballantine. Plus, the Dobbie’s Little Green Fingers area will provide welcome entertainment and gardening activity for the children including wheelbarrow races, planting and climbing frames. Plus, for the style conscious there is a Style in the Garden event on Sunday 19th May sponsored by IN! Magazine and online fashion magazine Sugahfix.
Event Organiser Claire Faulkner is delighted with the new venue and the packed programme, “This year is very exciting for us. Not only to have the opportunity to host the festival in such a unique environment but we are thrilled at the range and quality of exhibitors and growers we have taking part – it is fantastic to see what Ireland has to offer the world of gardening. Above all it is going to be great fun!”
The 2013 Airtricity Garden Festival is open daily Friday, Saturday and Sunday from 10am-6pm with parking on site. For tickets and more information visit www.gardenshowireland.com. Find us onFacebook and connect with us on Twitter for sneak peeks and behind-the-scenes action!
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