Croí and NUI Galway present the World’s First Healthy Heart Garden at Bloom in the Park

The first cardiovascular themed show-garden features an innovative design and choice of plants to remind us all to look after our heart health. See www.croi.ie/bloom.

Friday, 20 May 2022: With Summer in the air, NUI Galway and partners, along with charity partner Croí, the heart and stroke charity, will present an inspirational cardiovascular-themed garden to educate people about heart health. The #CroiGarden will feature as a show-garden in this year’s Bloom in the Park, Ireland’s annual garden festival in the Phoenix Park, over the June Bank Holiday weekend from Thursday 2nd June – Monday 6th June.

The #CroiGarden highlights the importance of the three cardiovascular pillars – blood sugar (diabetes), blood pressure (hypertension) and blood lipid (cholesterol) control. In addition, the other key trinity of diet, exercise and mental health feature as part of the garden’s theme.

Many garden plants give us the compounds for medications – the French Lilac flower gives us the compounds for diabetes medications such as Glucophage (Metformin) and Willow trees give us cardiovascular medications such as Aspirin. The garden design incorporates architectural elements of the cardiovascular system such as large vessel-like cylindrical planting spaces and a pulsing water feature, mimicking the heartbeat and bringing movement into the space.

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

Project lead and Garden Designer, Professor Derek O’Keeffe, Professor of Medical Device Technology, NUI Galway and Consultant Physician, Galway University Hospitals, said: “The #CroiGarden represents a unique educational opportunity to remind people of the importance of looking after their heart health through blood sugar, blood pressure and blood cholesterol control, while paying attention to diet, exercise and mental health.

“The robotic Drone Bees concept starts an important conversation about planetary health, biodiversity and the current global bee colony collapse and this gives an example of how to help this crisis by leaving a part of the garden wild for insects to flourish.”

Croí’s Chief Operations Officer, Mark O’Donnell, said: “We are thrilled to be involved with this exciting project. A huge part of our focus at Croí is educating the public on the risk factors for heart disease and stroke, and preventing disease. Our partnership with NUI Galway’s School of Medicine on the #CroiGarden serves as a great educator around the control of risk factors like diabetes, blood pressure and cholesterol.”

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

Owen Treacy, Country Manager for Novo Nordisk, said: “We are delighted to be partnering with NUI Galway on this exciting and innovative project. As a patient-focused pharmaceutical company, Novo Nordisk understands the importance of educating people on positive heart health, particularly when there is such a close link between having type 2 diabetes and increasing risk of heart disease. We believe it is very important to educate patients with type 2 diabetes to actively seek to lower their risk of cardiovascular disease, so the #CroiGarden is the perfect fit!”

Anne O’Leary, CEO of Vodafone Ireland said: “We are excited to work with Croí and NUI Galway on the world-first heart garden and drone bee project at Bloom in the Park. At Vodafone, we want to connect for a better future and use technology for good. A recent study suggests up to a 30% decline of the bumblebee population in a generation due to rising temperatures. The Drone Bee project is a great example of using cutting-edge technology to highlight this issue, the implications it will have on our ecosystem and the broader effects of the climate crisis.”

Kerrie Gardiner, Bord Bia Bloom Show Garden Manager  “I think the show gardens at Bord Bia Bloom are going to be really special this year. Some have been on the drawing board since 2019 so it’s exciting to see them finally coming together. As a Galway native, I’m particularly looking forward to see the Croí garden come to life in the park. It’s a great concept that will allow for lots of visitor engagement at the show.”

For more on the Croí Garden at Bloom, see www.croi.ie/Bloom.

To vote for the Croí Garden at the Bloom Garden People’ Choice Award, text GARDEN1 to 51500 (standard rate SMS). The vote is open from 09:00 on Thursday, 2nd June to 13:00 on Monday 6th June 2022. Vote before 13:00hrs on Monday, 6th June. Votes after this time will not be counted but SMS rates still apply. Please follow the voting instructions exactly or your vote may not come through. ONE vote per person per garden only. SMS Provider: Púca. Votes open to ROI & NI residents only.

Pictured from left outside Croí House: Christine Flanagan, Croí’s Fundraising Director; Christine Harnett, Croí Programme Participant; Croí Garden Designer and Project Lead, Dr Derek O’Keeffe – Professor of Medical Device Technology, NUI Galway, and Consultant Physician, Galway University Hospitals; and Mark O’Donnell, Croí’s Head of Foundation and Chief Operations Officer. Photo Credit: Aengus McMahon