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Geraniums grow well under trees

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By Debby Looney, gardening expert

Perennials come into their own during summer time, as do lupins, scabious, geraniums and countless other well-known flowers. However, one of the most versatile and beloved perennials has to be the hardy geranium.

I think everyone should have at least one variety somewhere and if your conditions are less than ideal, there should be many in your garden! Almost all varieties available are fully hardy and tolerate all soil types except completely waterlogged soil. Most do as well in shade as a sunny spot and are the least fussy plants I have grown.

They flower in shades of white, pink, mauve, blue and purple, and provide colour from May to October. One of the earliest varieties to flower is G. phaeum, a hardy plant which is has masses of purple, maroon, violet or white flowers from April onwards.

The foliage grows to about 15cm, but the flowers reach about 50cm tall and are of an upright habit. G. sanguineum is the next to make an appearance in my garden. It is a low growing spreading habit and is covered in pink cup-shaped flowers all summer. The leaves are toothed, and flowers range from pale pink to cerise. G. Ann Folkard is a favourite - it has a lax habit producing long shoots with golden leaves.

It has an abundance of magenta flowers with almost black centres and veins from May until frost. It covers a large area and is ideal for keeping weeds down. Another favourite would be Johnson’s Blue, often said to be the bluest and longest flowering of the geraniums. It has a fairly upright habit, and if this is what your space needs, don’t be tempted into buying Jolly Bee, Rozanne or Heidi.

Though these are all beautiful plants with blue flowers, they are all low growing and need a lot of horizontal space! An evergreen variety is G. cantabrigiense ‘Biokovo’, a low growing geranium with bright green foliage and pink flowers. G. machorrizum stays green in my garden over winter, with the added bonus of scarlet leaves in the autumn.

G. renardii has soft, hairy foliage, an upright habit and white flowers with dark veins. It is quite unusual but absolutely lovely! G. cinereum is a dwarf variety which is ideal for alpine gardens, and G. x oxonianum is probably one of the oldest, most common varieties we have - ‘Wargrave Pink’ often growing in hedgerows near old cottages. One of the largest varieties is G. maderense, or the Madeira geranium, which grows to almost a meter tall when in flower. Unfortunately it is a biennial, and I advise anyone who has this stunning plant to collect the seeds.

There really are geraniums for every situation and are ideal when trying to cover a bank or a large crockery. They grow well under trees and are not too badly affected by sap. If the seed is collected they will germinate easily, though the clumps can also be divided in autumn or spring. Lastly, a good reason to incorporate geraniums into your garden is that they provide a veritable feast for pollinators!

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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 […]

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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 […]

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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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