Bloom in the Park will feature the world’s first Healthy Heart Garden

NUI Galway and Croí, a heart disease and stroke charity, have joined forces to design a cardiovascular-themed garden to educate people about heart health.

The #CroiGarden will be featured at Ireland’s annual Garden Festival in Phoenix Park, Bloom in the Park, over the June Bank Holiday weekend, Thursday 2nd June to Monday 6th June.

The #CroiGarden highlights the importance of the three cardiovascular pillars of controlling blood sugar (diabetes), blood pressure (hypertension) and blood lipids (cholesterol). Additionally, the other key trinity of diet, exercise, and mental health is part of the garden theme.

Project leader and garden designer, Professor Derek O’Keeffe, who is also Professor of Medical Device Technology at NUI Galway and Consultant Physician at University Hospitals Galway, says the #CroiGarden represents a unique educational opportunity to remind people the importance of taking care of their heart health through the control of blood sugar, blood pressure and blood cholesterol, while paying attention to diet, exercise and mental health.

“Many garden plants give us the compounds for medicines – the French lilac flower gives us the compounds for diabetes medicines such as glucophage (metformin) and willows give us cardiovascular medicines such as aspirin. The design of the garden incorporates architectural elements of the cardiovascular system such as large cylindrical container-shaped planting spaces and a pulsating water feature, mimicking the heartbeat and bringing movement into the space.

To highlight the collapse of the global bee population due to the climate crisis, NUI Galway and Vodafone will also showcase robotic drones in the garden. These small, lightweight drones will communicate with sensors in the garden, connected via Vodafone’s IoT network. Drone bees are part of artificial intelligence research within the Hive Lab at NUI Galway, based in the School of Medicine.

“The Drone Bees robotic concept is starting an important conversation about planetary health, biodiversity and the current global bee colony collapse and it sets an example of how to help this crisis by leaving part of the garden wild for insects can thrive.”

Croí’s chief operating officer, Mark O’Donnell, says a big part of Croí’s focus is on educating the public about the risk factors for heart disease and stroke and preventing disease.

“Our partnership with NUI Galway Medical School on the #CroiGarden is a great educator around controlling risk factors like diabetes, blood pressure and cholesterol.”

The #CroiGarden is also supported by Diabetes Care West, Novo Nordisk, EireComposites and Vodafone Ireland.

Owen Treacy, Country Director of Novo Nordisk, says the #CroiGarden is the perfect fit for his pharmaceutical company, which understands the importance of educating people about positive heart health, especially when there is such a close connection between type 2 diabetes and increased risk of heart disease.

According to Anne O’Leary, CEO of Vodafone Ireland, a recent study suggests up to 30% decline in bumblebee population within a generation due to rising temperatures.

“The Drone Bee project is a great example of using cutting-edge technology to highlight this problem, the implications it will have on our ecosystem and the wider effects of the climate crisis.”

Kerrie Gardiner, Bord Bia Bloom Show Garden Manager and Galway native, says the Croí Garden is a great concept that will attract considerable visitor engagement.

“I think Bord Bia Bloom’s show gardens are going to be really special this year. Some have been on the drawing board since 2019, so it’s exciting to finally see them come together.”

To find out more about the Croí Garden in Bloom, see

To vote for Croí Garden in the Bloom Garden People’s Choice Award, text GARDEN1 to 51500 (standard text). Voting is open from 9:00 a.m. on Thursday June 2 to 1:00 p.m. on Monday June 6, 2022. Votes after this time will not be counted but SMS rates still apply. Follow the voting instructions to the letter, otherwise the vote may not take place. Only one vote per person and per garden. SMS provider: Puca. Voting open to ROI & NI residents only.

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