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Bamboo is hardy and easy to grow




By Debby Looney, our weekly gardening expert

Is there such a thing as a plant which ticks every single box? I don’t think so. But a plant which is one of the most versatile I can think of is certainly bamboo.

There is a bamboo for every need, and every type of garden, really, their only drawback is that they do not flower. On the other hand, they are hardy, easy to grow, evergreen, stay true to their size, provide sound, colour and movement, and are so unique they do not compete with other plants. The fact that they do not flower is, for me, one of their strengths, as they provide a beautiful backdrop for flowers in the summer and fill the emptiness in the winter without one having to worry about clashing colours!


Bamboo root systems are quite shallow, so while they do grow almost anywhere, they do best in fertile, moist, but not waterlogged, soil, which has been dug over. They benefit greatly from an annual mulch, and prefer to be sheltered from extreme wind. That said, I have a bamboo in a pot which dries out regularly, is forgotten about and gets the full force of the wind, but is still alive. Not growing, perhaps, but not dead either!
The important thing with bamboo is to choose carefully and do the research. There are a thousand plus varieties and some will naturalise and crowd out other plants. If you are in doubt, line a very large hole with strong plastic, into which you cut some drainage holes, this should keep your plant in check.


The easiest and one of the largest bamboo is Pseudosasa japonica. It is classed as a runner, and needs space. I do a yearly trim around the rhizomes and this keeps it tidy. It has mid green, olive coloured culms, (stems of a bamboo), and dark green foliage growing to over 5m. It is incredibly hardy. A very popular bamboo is Phyllostachys nigra, the black bamboo – so called for its beautiful dark culms. It grows well in a large pot, but if it is planted in the ground it will reach 5m also. Another very hardy one to try is Phyllostachys aurea, the golden bamboo. Its canes are very recognisable, having a swelling below each node.
Medium sized bamboos, about 2m, are ideal for containers, or as screens. Fargesia dracocephala is a very hardy plant, which copes well with a level of neglect. It has dense, dark foliage which makes it ideal as a hedge. Fargesia ‘Jumbo’ is a firm favourite and with its arching habit it is very graceful.


Yet another use for bamboo is groundcover and to this end Indocalamus tessellatus is possibly the easiest to grow and reaches a maximun of 1m tall. It will happily cover as much ground as you will give it. It is a bit of a slow starter if the soil is heavy, but once it gets going weeds don’t stand a chance! Another excellent choice is Sasa veitchii which is very dense and fast growing. Its leaves turn pale brown around the edges in winter, giving it a variegated appearance.
Lastly, there are a few unusual types to look out for. Shibatea kumasaca is a groundcover plant, which can be clipped into formal hedges and shapes as it makes small dense clumps. Chimonobambusa quadrangularis is a 3m tall specimen with square stems – it grows in distinct clumps and its leaves are very glossy, and, well, shaggy looking! Hibanobambusa ‘Shiroshima’ is a beautiful variegated plant, with vibrant yellow and green streaked leaves. It is extremely hardy.

So, whether you need a privacy screen, groundcover, specimen plant or pot plant, there is a bamboo out there for you!



Now that’s what we call dedication!

With over 41 years volunteering as a research biologist Áine Ní Shúilleabháin is the longest serving volunteer in Killarney National Park. Áine is dedicated to the recording of valuable scientific […]




With over 41 years volunteering as a research biologist Áine Ní Shúilleabháin is the longest serving volunteer in Killarney National Park.

Áine is dedicated to the recording of valuable scientific data on waterfowl and water quality in Killarney National Park. Her research has been an invaluable source of material with recordings dating back to 1982. Her contribution, observing ecosystems, and reports on her findings will be recognised for generations to come.

Áine’s ‘wingman’ is boatman and co-counter, John Michael Lyne, who operates from Muckross Boathouse. John’s knowledge of the lakes and interest in wildlife is remarkable. Generations of John Michael’s family have been involved with Muckross and Killarney National Park. The day on the lakes, John Michael, Áine and bird expert and National Parks and Wildlife Conservation Ranger, Sam Bayley, observed, nesting Herons, ringed Mute Swans, Golden Eye pair, an Egret, Cormorants, Irish Red Deer Hinds by the shoreline, and a White Tailed Eagle in the distance.

“It’s a wonderful privilege to be working in Killarney National Park, the Rangers are so open and welcoming,” Áine said.

“I first came to the Park in 1974, working with Dan Kelleher and the late Paudie O’Leary, and then on contract from 1976-1984. My supervisor suggested that I link my work as a fresh water biologist looking at the lake water quality with my great interest in wildlife ecology and management, that’s how I started doing the waterfowl counts.”

The project was spearheaded by prof John Bracken, Zoology Department UCD.

When Áine was appointed Senior Fisheries Environmental Officer in Donegal and Cavan (1982-2008), she still found time to travel to Killarney and carry out her bird counts.

“Being involved in waterfowl counts and waterfowl research in the Killarney National Park, alongside the great staff, so committed and knowledgeable from Dan Kelleher to the current management and staff, Éamonn Meskell, Danny O’Keeffe, and the great team of Conservation Rangers, and Sam Bayley being the bird expert, is such a privilege for me.”

After retiring, Áine returned to Kerry and Glenflesk became her home place. She immersed herself helping Glenflesk GAA Club, with her strong Kerry roots she served as Club PRO and now as Health Club Officer. She was appointed to the role of Kerry County Board Children’s Officer, a role she is very proud to hold.

As she says she is in a unique position volunteering.

“It’s unique having a long series of data going from 1982 to 2023, that’s because of the commitment from past and present staff and for me to continue to work as a volunteer is a wonderful privilege. It’s great to be out in nature, in such a beautiful place, so many different ecosystems and great wildlife.”

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This week it’s all about the eyes

By Jill O’Donoghue from Killarney Toning and Beauty Studio Our eyes and eyebrows are natural beauty features that help to frame our face to achieve the famous no make-up look. A […]




By Jill O’Donoghue from Killarney Toning and Beauty Studio

Our eyes and eyebrows are natural beauty features that help to frame our face to achieve the famous no make-up look.

A good eyebrow shape and tint really helps to give this look so you won’t have to try to draw or fill in the brows.

This is a popular treatment with both men and women. The lash lift can give you a natural boost, by lifting, conditioning, curling up which helps to open the eye giving it a brighter, more open look. Also, by tinting with the lash lift you are darkening; this helps the lashes look fuller and you won’t need to wear mascara. Your eye lashes will look very fluttery. You would even think you were wearing extensions without the damage to the natural lashes and its suitable for all ages. Even the shortest of lashes will be lifted.

The eyes and hands are some of the most important places for anti-ageing. With all the hand sanitising, it’s important to use hand cream more often. I always recommend applying just before bed so it can have time to really get to work on hydrating the hands. It’s clear from all my years of anti-ageing skincare for the face that hyaluronic acid is a key ingredient for hydration and anti-ageing. If you feel you need a boost for the hands, it’s a great idea to try a warm paraffin hand manicure which is a game changer for the hydration of the hands. SPF is essential to reduce and prevent further age spots. Use an eye cream morning and night, followed by an eye mask once a week and an eye facial once a month. Eye facials can be added into your regular facial for an extra lift.

Eyes for me are an area that needs most work as they don’t have any sebaceous glands of their own unlike the rest of the body. I often hear people saying they are allergic to eye cream, mostly it’s applied wrong or into the eye. Imagine you were looking at a skull – the bone of the eye socket is far back from the actual eye itself. You apply the eye cream on the bone area, just under the eyebrow and well under the eye using the ring finger as not to drag the skin as it’s super delicate. Use light circular motion from the inner corner under the eyebrow out to the temple lifting the brow as you go. It will drop with time and gravity, so it’s our job to encourage it to stay in place by exercising the muscle.

For more information or to book a skin consultation for the New Year, call Jill on 064 6632966.

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