The country's leading gardening show, the Bloom Festival, has opened in Dublin's Phoenix Park.

It is the fourth year of the event and, according to President Mary McAleese, it has already become an epic summer occasion for gardeners.

When she opened the show yesterday, President McAleese referred to the increased interest in gardening - especially among schoolchildren.

Bloom features 24 show gardens with 'The Rain Garden' the overall large winner.

The garden focuses on collecting rainwater and using it for some household purposes later. It was designed by Jane McCorkell for the SAP Group, Kilsallaghan, Co Meath.

Bloom is organised by Bord Bia and the display takes up ten acres in the Phoenix Park. It is nearly twice the size of Britain’s Chelsea Flower Show.

60,000 people are expected to attend before the Festival ends on Monday.