Westmeath landscape gardener among Bloom winners

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Tom Leavy of Killucan next to the award-winning artwork.

A Westmeath landscaper is among the medal winners at this year’s Bord Bia Bloom festival, which ends on Monday.

Tom Leavy from Killucan won a silver medal at Ireland’s biggest garden festival for his project, Beauty and the Beast – The Musical Garden, which he co-designed with Cornelia Raftery.

As its name suggests, the award-winning garden was inspired by the classic Disney animated film of the same name.

According to the Bloom website, Tom and Cornelia’s garden, which was sponsored by Bord Gáis Energy Theater “plays to elements of the Disney musical, showcasing the bewitched castle grounds and highlighting the enchanted red rose at the heart of the story.

“The rose can be seen in the center of the garden, kept safely under a glass globe in a pavilion surrounded by red roses. These shrink into petal-shaped beds to represent the falling rose petals in the fairy tale.

“The contrasting plants and colors in this garden reflect the color palette of the stage production. Perennial beds of mixed blues, purples and greens illustrate the overgrown nature of the bewitched castle and allude to the enchanted prince. Roses in a variety of pink, peach, cream and white symbolize Belle’s arrival at the castle.

Tom and his partner Claire Bracken.

Tom has worked on a number of Bloom gardens in the past, but this year’s entry was the first he has co-designed.

“You get a bit more glory when you’re at the design end,” Tom told the Westmeath Examiner.

While it took Tom and his team two and a half weeks to build their on-site entrance to Phoenix Park, it took them almost three months to design and prepare for it. However, all their hard work paid off.

Along with winning a medal, Tom says one of the most enjoyable parts of the festival was chatting with some of the tens of thousands of people who attend. You have to be on your toes though, he says.

“It’s great to have feedback, especially from the kids who loved the garden. Some of the older people also liked the garden. They asked very difficult questions about horticulture. You have to be ready because they would know as much as you do.

Tom and Cornelia Raftery.

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