Tao Of Now, A Garden at Bloom 2016

With this third report of my reviews of Bloom 2016 I am going to share my experiences and feelings of the Tao Of Now garden that Claire Roche and I was invited to perform within the garden by Claire Power and Vispi Shroff. Also present as an energetic equal participant was Fergus Hogan, who was also a continuous encouragement.

Introducing the Garden

That was the signage at the top of the yurtie kind of tent.

This was the side sign giving us an introduction to the involvement by Eight Oaks Holistic of Waterford.

Here's a quick pic of the Tao Of Now Garden, that I will tall you all about shortly.

Fiann O'Nuallian was the Tao Of Now garden designer.
I'll introduce you to him through a pic now ...

You will notice that Fiann is holding one of his 'Holistic Gardener' books

The concept of the Tao Of Now garden was to demonstrate how most people can create a sanctuary garden for the purpose of retreat and mindfulness. It was small urban garden spaces that this garden idea was most focused on.

Once the garden was created it needed some demonstrations of how it could be used. This is why Eight Oaks Holistic of Waterford were invited onto this as sponsors.

The heart of Eight Oak Holistic is Claire Power ...

who is a motivating uplifting ball of endless infectious fun

and Vispi Shroff

a very focused and calming person that easily generates a presence of peace and serenity.

Add to that, Fergus Hogan ...

a stunning natural storyteller and poet with a shanachie gift of being spellbinding and guiding, with a bit of mischief and jollity thrown in. 

The there was us, Claire Roche, and myself in my Woodland Bard hat, performing there twice a day due to an invitation by Eight Oaks Holistic

Let me tell you about the Tao Of Now garden

When I arrived on the first day, Thursday, I was completely lost when I saw the garden. What! No trees?

Within a few hours I grew to understand the idea of the two bamboo species there.

Like trees, they were in the garden as symbols of our core strengths. For a small urban garden they eliminated the risks of spreading offensively into neighbouring gardens. Took my a couple of days to work that one out. 

Three species of ferns I watched closely day by day ..

Symbolic of care and attention during unfolding truths, creating a happy space.

Japonicas there ... 

Representing hope ... and I was hoping it may flower.

The Hostas were very popular

Starting in bud here on the Thursday ... watch this space!
Symbolic of overcoming adversity.

Some horsetail, snakegrass, there representing the kundalini experience?
Not sure about that one, but after trying to curb its spread in my garden, certainly symbolic of patience and tolerance with me ... so I took a pic of other grasses there instead. 

Then we come to the water lilly that we watched each day for movement, action and reaction.

Symbolic of rising from the murky dark into light and joy, the connection between the under-light of earth and our perception of the 'divine.

This is what some of us were visioning may happen ...

The Curse of Expectations.

This Lilly was the 'dot' we see within the Yin Yang symbol, together the Taijitu. The lilly in the dark water ... 

The dot in the dark being the seed of light that blossoms as the lilly, and is blossomed, challenged, by the light of the white concrete section supporting the hand sculpture, which was placed at the point of being the seed of oncoming darkness.

Various interpretations were given about this hand. I was once taught this as being a Tao symbol of protection when we enter darkness, a kind calling on our divinity guide to protect us in wilderness. Some recognise this as an 'its going to be ok' symbol.

Claire just had to be aware of its risk of pinching her bum during performance ...

So all of this together, the Taijitu, the garden of plants, and the activities within this garden became the constant flow of the Tao, the 'Tao Of Now', a  potential for being a garden we can create for our own constant Prophecy Of The Present.

When people see things as beautiful,
ugliness is created
When people see things as good,
evil is created.
Being and non-being - produce each other.
Difficult and easy - complement each other.
Long and short - define each other.
High and low - oppose each other.
Fore and aft - follow each other.

It was just myself on this day as Claire was away in a remote part of an island of the West, catching the sun. Through Bloom it was our summer, hot (for Ireland) sun, blue sky, t-shirts, lots of shorts.

I aimed to get to Bloom fairly early by public transport, but what was timetabled to take 45 mins turned out to be about 2.5 hours ... but I am not going into that. To OT for this.

Arrival at Bloom was awesome. I had never been before and had not imagined it to be a festival of the size it is. I was thrilled as I could instantly see this was truly showing off what Ireland is today, not 100 years ago. Ireland is a country of high quality food, good farming, and a love of gardens and flowers.

So, arriving at the Tao Of Now Garden, Bronze Medal winner ...

I was asked to do some presenting right away.

On first sight, I just did not get this garden. This initial challenge was there not being trees here. How could I relate to and explain a garden without trees? What was I doing there?

It took me an hour or two to get the feel of where I was and what was going on. I hid away from talking to people, and generally tried to hide, while I found my place in this space.

When I did start getting 'the feel' I think it was hard for anyone to encourage me to stop :-) . Fortunately, Fergus was very fluid about the garden and has a beautiful way of explaining things through a natural story approach.

The big event of the day, at this garden, was the live RTE TV broadcast from the garden.

The presenter was Marty Morrissey, the flamboyant sports commentator who has lately been presenter of other living and culture events such as on the Nationwide series, made popular through impersonations by Mario Rosenstock, and as the main Bloom broadcast presenter.

Appearing wearing his usual pink shirt and shiny suit, even on a hot summer's day ...

Rehearsing for an interview with Fiann

Crew on the read to plug into the live broadcast feed ...

and they were On The Air ... drumroll first ...

There was supposed to be a live yoga demonstration, and Vispi and friend had been rehearsing this earlier ...

but they used a pre-recorded clip instead ... that Marty tried to copy ...

Though very entertaining, I also thought this was sad as Eight Oaks Holistic had invested a lot into this garden and part of the deal was decent media coverage of their work, not a mockery of it.

Fiann compensated as much as he could, and converted most of his interview into providing explanation of what Eight Oaks Holistic do, how they use the garden, and overall credit for their contribution ...

Unfortunately, I think if anyone still remembers the broadcast, what they will remember is Marty's clowning around rather than the garden ... but I suppose that's what they call 'good television'.

Here's a full pic of the overall broadcasting scene then, the 'set' ...

It was actually hard to totally remove Marty from the hand, once he had settled in.

Within 30 mins there was frantic announcing through walkie talkies and mobiles, "where's Marty's glasses?!".

After this media excitement, the first day was closing, time to go home.


Another hot sunny day, and this time Claire was joining me at the Tao Of Now garden.

From this day we settled into two performances a day at around 1:30 pm and 4 pm.

As there were no trees in the garden I did feel limited with my tree poems. My memory of much else these days is awful, so I had to grab from the 'cloud' some of my other writings, especially related to water. I also managed to pour out some ad-lib stuff inspired by by surroundings and cloaked over the framework of some stories I tell.

Understandably, a lot more people on the Friday than the Thursday, with most of them being there between Noon and 3 pm. Claire and I chose 1:30 and 4 pm slots to get a busy time and a slower time. We did fear that the people would stop by a couple of minutes and then move on.

We were surprised how many people stayed on for the whole performance, each performance. The total audience for us over Bloom must have reached 100s, and stuns us to think about it. There has been response since the festival. People remembered us.

Fiann was truly getting into his stride talking about his garden creation ...

and the drumming opportunities were becoming popular

Also it was good to meet up with a few Facebook Friends today that were always on Facebook but had not met in presence. William Forsyth Gibb, a fascinating artist, sculptor and labyrinth maker was one of them.


Bigger crowds, sun seemed to be getting hotter, lots of blue eyed pink bodies everywhere.

Fiann telling the garden story more frequently

Including a lot more presentation from his Holistic Gardener books.

Drumming becoming more and more popular ...

Claire Roche really getting used to the garden and enjoying the performing ...

and we got to see Fergus perform stunning excerpts from his stories, published within his enchanting 'The Wisdom Of Fionn' book.


The busiest day, at least twice as many people as Friday arrived. A lot of people struggling to see the gardens, if they were there between Noon and 3 pm. 

Fiann getting better and better and more interesting and inspiring with his presentations, and more relaxed too ...

Fergus attracting larger crowds

No more pics of Claire and I available, though, but we were doing ok.

Hosta flowers coming into more bloom ...

and ferns unfolding fast ...

All was very well with today. Friends stopped by. Some moved on as we seemed to be too busy. A lot of sheltering from the hear today too.


The last day of Bloom 2016.

Started off with the warm sun, but soon clouded over.

Fiann still in his stride ...

but the showers came and it changed for awhile.

The pink ladies of Garden Of Hope took shelter, but I seem to have lost my pics of that, but some people made good use of free promotional tote bags handed out :-)

Vispi patiently shared his wisdom inside

Sorry, I have no idea why I am short on Claire Power pics. She was on the go making sure everyone was happy the whole time.

 The sun returned for the finale. In its new golden light, Fergus served his finale, and Claire and I served our finale, our best set of the whole time there, I think.

The hosta flowers came out even more dramatic ...

and more ferns unfurled ...

But, the biggest wonder of all was our patient wait for the lilly to flower. Instead, it sneaked up on us, grew new shoots that popped up at a different spot in the pond, and straight after the rain popped up a flowering head trying to open ...

Unfortunately, for us, it did not open before we finally left Bloom. Even so, it was a nother lesson or two on being cheated out of the expected and cherishing the unexpected. 

Well, I've run out of pics now, but before I end this trilogy of reviews. One thing I found I was longing for in the Tao Of Now garden was a space to have a tea ceremony with a friend, a place of intimate conversation and exchange.

Where the hand was would not have been ideal as that is the seed of entering darkness, which a shared tea is not. The ideal spot may be where the lilly was, but sharing tea in dark water not really appealing either. 

Even so, on the back of some of the plant lists was this, a quote from Thich Nhat Hanh ...
Drink your tea slowly and reverently,as if it is the axis on whichthe world earth revolves slowly, evenly,without rushing toward the future.Live the actual moment.Only this moment is life.

We said our farewells, as the bargain hunters were getting the last of the plant bargains.

Endless thanks and appreciation to Claire Power, Vispi Shroff and Fergus Hogan for the invites, support, love, and constant encouragement and inspiration. I hope we do more together soon. Add to that the Holistic Gardener Fiann Nuallain, for his inspiration and total freedom to interpret and use his Tao Of Now Garden.

For Bloom, just remarkable, going there, seeing, learning, taking away fabulous ideas to try at home, and a bunch of new foods to try. The peace and friendship at that festival will last in memories for a long time.

Cannot wait to go again next year.

Essential Links

Holistic Gardener
Eight Oaks Holistic

This review is part of a trilogy of reviews, 
here are the links to the other two reviews

click here for my review of the whole Bloom Festival
click here for my review of the Show Gardens


  1. Oh John What a great write up about our experiences over the Bloom weekend:) beautiful words... Gorgeous photos WOW :) thank you, Claire xx


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