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Consider planting topiary trees




By Debby Looney, gardening expert

The fantastic spell of long overdue sunshine certainly brought out the best in our flowering plants.

It seemed that, for the first time this year, geraniums were blooming as they should be! That has been the experience in my garden ... I hope you have had more luck! However, some plants have exhausted themselves. I have pulled all the nemesias, lobelias and marigolds out of my pots – harsh maybe, but given the weather forecast and dire predictions of rain, I feel these plants will not recover in time for a second blooming. With many baskets, pots and borders looking a bit woebegone, many people wonder whether it is still worth putting in summer plants? Well, a quick fix if you need it, is always the geranium.

You will still get plenty of pleasure out of geraniums, busy lizzies and begonias – they will last until the first frosts. However, if you are looking for something which is long lasting and will take you through the winter, consider an alternative such as topiary trees. Lollipops are very practical, they are an easy shape to maintain and look well whether they are underplanted with seasonal plants, or whether the look is completed with decorative stones. Plants grown as lollipop trees include euonymus, bay tree, Buxus, conifers, photinias, or holly trees. Many flowering plants are also shaped into small standards, for example miniature Roses, rosemary and fuchsia.

Optimum health

Cone shaped topiary is also popular, again buxus are low maintenance and very affordable. Spiral and stepped lollipops are also interesting choices but require more maintenance to keep them in the correct shape. Buxus plants can be susceptible to blight, keep an eye out for it and spray on time with a Buxus health tonic. It is vital to keep your Buxus in optimum health, ensure it does not dry out and that it is well fed, preferably with a specialist feed. Buxus are also very prone to white fly, which causes considerable damage to plants. It is easy to spot, however, usually you will notice a white webbing, or a cloud of white particles if you brush against the plant. These particles are actually the tiny white fly. Again, they are easily killed using an appropriate spray, or even soapy water - the important thing is to catch them early.

All-purpose food

If you are hoping to keep your pots looking good until the end of autumn, make sure to keep feeding regularly. I recommend an all-purpose food rather than tomato food, which is the popular choice. An all-purpose food, such as Miracle Gro or Phostrogen, keeps the whole plant healthy from root to tip as opposed to tomato food which really only forces flowering at the expense of all else. It causes plants to push themselves to flower, creating exhaustion much sooner than is necessary. A problem this year, I think due to the beautiful weather, is caterpillars. Unfortunately, the damage is often done before you realise you’ve had visitors, but if you do see the caterpillars on time, it is easy to pick them off. Alternatively, a product such as Provado Bug Killer or the excellent organic product ‘Grazers' will kill them.

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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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