Big thank you from

Jenny Monroe talks to Claire Faulkner

Claire FaulknerCLAIRE Faulkner is the Director of Garden Show Ireland - Northern Ireland's premier horticulture event. It returns to the stunning surroundings of the walled garden at Hillsborough Castle from May 21 to 23.

Claire has worked in event management for 25 years and this is the sixth consecutive year that Garden Show Ireland has staged this unique horticulture event with its own stylish appeal and festival atmosphere.

In the run up to the show my mornings usually start at 6am when I wake up and then go into my office at home and check my emails. We spend all year organising and planning the show. I have a great team behind me who help come up with new ideas to make the show even better each year.

I have an office in Ballynahinch but with the show only a matter of weeks away I am often found in Hillsborough checking the grounds and speaking with the different exhibitors and people who will be providing the displays and marquees. The team is well briefed and everyone has an important part to play. My role is to ensure everything comes together smoothly and the show is enjoyed by all.

By this stage the ad campaigns have been put in place and all the facilities required such as toilets and shuttle buses have been organised and it's now a matter of making sure it all comes together.

The operations manager handles the logistics and there is someone to maintain the website and online booking facility. The event attracts people from across Ireland and is even promoted further a field, truly placing Hillsborough on the world map.

I have been busy liaising with all the organisations who continue to support the event to make it the success that it is, after such a harsh winter, and in a tough economic climate, the Garden Festival is a welcome weekend in spring with its array of colourful plants and fun activities for families.

We are always trying to come up with something a bit different so new for 2010 will be demonstrations on creating stunning flower arrangements by international florist Richard Haslam. He'll advise not just on how to make an arrangement look wonderful, but also which plants and flowers to grow to create it. The Garden Festival is a wonderful opportunity to pick up tips from the experts, and this year there is so much that is new. As well as welcoming back old favourites like the Garden Roadshow team and the Garden Gourmet, there are new specialist growers, and expertise on using your garden to keep bees and bantams as well as growing vegetables or how to create a herb garden in pots at the back door.

Mind you, it's not just about gardening. This event is a unique festival. The atmosphere in the walled garden with the jazz, the cream teas and the locally produced foods as well as being able to stroll through the gardens of Hillsborough Castle and the village, make it a very special experience.

When the show is running I will have the help of many 'green shirts' who will be dealing with the public and making sure everything is going well. They report to the team leaders and myself. After each show we will be busy cleaning up and getting the place ready for the next day. After the final show and everything is cleared away, the team and I will head for a well deserved dinner.

I really love this job. It's very stressful so I must love it or I wouldn't be doing it. I really hope everyone enjoys the Show.

Ulster Star