Croí and NUIG to present inspirational garden during Bloom in the Park

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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: Aengus McMahon

Heart and stroke charity Croí and NUI Galway will present an inspirational cardiovascular-themed garden to educate people about heart health this summer.

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 2 June – Monday 6 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.