By Debby Looney, gardening expert
Most large gardens have ‘that patch’ which is inaccessible, has bad soil, is on a ditch – a spot where all you really want is some dense ground cover to keep down the weeds. This week I hope to give you some ideas.
Firstly, as with all plants, the growing conditions need to be suitable. Often they need to be shade tolerant, as ground cover is used under trees, on shady banks and so on. Equally, they need to be drought tolerant for the same reasons. When planting your ground cover make sure to dig a large hole, up to three times the size of the pot. Fill back in with good quality top soil mixed with a rich compost – just to give them a good start in life! Water until they are rooted in, especially if under trees.
In shady spots, ivy is an ideal ground cover plant. It spreads quickly and has a glossy green leaf. I think it is an invaluable plant even though I know there is a general aversion to it! Cotoneaster is another excellent plant, hardy, able to cope with any conditions, and fast growing. ‘Queen of Carpets’ is very low growing, and tends to root easily along its way. Cotoneaster dammeri is very quick to cover ground, with long, trailing stems of up to 3m in length. It only grows to a height of 45cm. Cotoneasters have white flowers in spring, which are very popular with pollinators, and red berries in autumn, which are very popular with birds!
SOME MORE SUGGESTIONS
Persicaria family members are also ideal as ground cover plants, typically evergreen or semi-evergreen with pink flower spikes. All varieties have dense foliage making them excellent weed blockers. Persicaria amplexicaulis grows to a height of about 30cm, though the flowers float above the foliage at 60cm. ‘Firetail’ has pink flowers which are a deep burgundy near the top, ‘Firedance’ has bright cerise flowers which contrast beautifully with the foliage, while ‘September Spires’ tends more toward a muted purple. Persicaria runcinate ‘Purple Fantasy’ is grown mainly for its foliage, which is heart shaped with purple and silvery markings. Persicaria affinis ‘Superba’ is a common plant in older gardens, but is very functional. Its evergreen foliage keep weeds down, while its flowers, which start off white and mature to rose, add cheer to even the darkest corners.
Vinca, or periwinkle, is another useful plant, especially on a dry site. Evergreen, with deep green or variegated foliage, it produces white through to purple flowers almost continuously throughout the year. Vinca minor is a low ground hugging plant as opposed to its taller cousin, vinca major, which, though a ground cover, is not quite as good at keeping weeds out.
Finally, an excellent ground cover which is evergreen in all but the coldest winters, is Brunnera. It has large, heart shaped leaves with a silvery sheen and bright blue forget-me-not like flowers in the spring. It grows well in moist shade.
Daffodils are possibly the easiest bulbs to grow
By Debby Looney, gardening expert With autumn comes the promise of spring. In other words, once September is here, we have the joy of planning, colour coordinating and choosing the bulbs which are going to bring us out of the long winter months and into the bright new beginnings of the gardening year. Suffice to […]
By Debby Looney, gardening expert
With autumn comes the promise of spring. In other words, once September is here, we have the joy of planning, colour coordinating and choosing the bulbs which are going to bring us out of the long winter months and into the bright new beginnings of the gardening year.
Suffice to say, I love bulbs. I also marvel at them each year, how such a dry, shrivelled little item can produce such blooms. I must admit, when I buy bulbs, I promise them as well as myself, that I will not spend money again next year, that this is the last time I will plant bulbs, that I now have the most beautiful choice there is, and so on. However, once the season starts, and I am faced with the photos on the boxes, not to mention the choice my ‘inbox’ receives, there I am buying again. There are always some pots or new areas that need filling!
Daffodils are one of the largest groups of bulbs and possibly the easiest to grow. They are split into 13 divisions – but no, I will not detail each one, that would be tedious! The proper Latin name for daffodil is Narcissus, named after the Greek mythological Narcissus who fell in love with his own reflection, and who, on realising this love could not be returned, melted away and turned into a flower. The most common divisions are; trumpet, which would include the common yellow daff, large and small cupped, and the pheasant eye daffs would be an example of the smaller cupped division. Tazetta are the daffs which produce more than three flowers per stem, such as paperwhites. Bulbocodiums have dominant coronas, while jonquils are generally small with five to seven flowers per stem.
How to plant them
When planting daffs, or any bulbs, make sure to plant them the right way up! The pointier side goes up – now, this might seem like common sense, but first timers and children are not always too sure. Plant the bulb down three times its own depth with a little compost or grit in the bottom of the hole. A teaspoon of bonemeal can be added in the bottom also, but make sure the bulb does not touch it. All bulbs prefer well drained soil, though daffodils do put up with fairly wet conditions.
Some great varieties to try are: ‘Avalon’, a large cupped variety with big lemon yellow flowers. The corona is paler and fades to white with age. ‘Golden Ducat’, an old and reliable double yellow daff, ‘Pink Paradise’, one of my favourites, a double daff, which is white with pink. It is also scented. ‘Merlin’ is white, with a small, bright orandge corona – it spreads well. ‘Minnow’ is a very popular dwarf daff with three pale yellow flowers to each stem, growing to about 20cm. ‘Tete-a-tete’ also remains a popular dwarf variety, it naturalises well. ‘Rip van Winkle’ is another small variety with spikey double flowers. It will not tolerate wet! ‘Thalia’ is a beautifully scented, delicate looking white variety bearing two flowers on each stem. ‘Mount Hood’ is probably the most popular and reliable large trumpeted white daffodil available.
It is well worth looking out for unusual varieties – I certainly think it is worth paying a bit extra for something different, but do put them in pots, or a special spot, where you can appreciate them!
Summer’s over, it’s time to focus on fitness
By Brian Foley from Activate Fitness For a lot of people, the summer months are a perfect time to loosen the reins a bit when it comes to fitness and nutrition, and that’s OK. With summer coming to an end, a lot of people now face a key inflection point; do you take inventory of […]
By Brian Foley from Activate Fitness
For a lot of people, the summer months are a perfect time to loosen the reins a bit when it comes to fitness and nutrition, and that’s OK.
With summer coming to an end, a lot of people now face a key inflection point;
do you take inventory of where you are in relation to your goals and double down on making progress starting today, or do you keep all things the same and just cruise into the fast-approaching Christmas, inevitably just putting your goals on hold until it comes time to set those New Year’s resolutions for 2022?
I’ve written plenty about the psychology of “Monday, January 1 etc.”, check out our blog on www.activate.ie for why we think January 1 isn’t sustainable.
It can be tough to hear but we’re almost at the final quarter of 2021. The year will wrap up soon and it’s up to you to decide how you’re going to end it.
I love the idea of compounding habits, the author James Clear (Atomic Habits) calls habits the “compound interest of self-improvement”. So let’s take a 1% improvement each day between here and Christmas.
“1%? It will take me forever to reach my goal if I just improve by 1% each day”, but that’s exactly where you are going to fail. We often look for the new shiny novelty and quick fix that promises 40% in six weeks, but we typically get nowhere near that type of return in nowhere near that timeframe. But if we focus on the process and make small incremental changes daily, that’s where the magic occurs.
One small improvement each day this autumn means you will be flying high in whatever you choose to be doing by Christmas.
Here’s a simple example:
Day 1 – Add vegetables to a meal you previously didn’t
Day 2 – Move more and get in some intentional exercise, like a walk for example.
Day 3 – Drink 2 litres of water
Day 4 – Write down your thoughts for the day and list things you were thankful for
Day 5 – Add a source of protein to a meal that previously didn’t have protein
Day 6 – Go for a longer walk than Day 2.
Day 7 – Prioritise sleep aiming to get at least 7 hours.
Think what types of habits you will accrue by day one hundred. None of the above are earth shattering huge changes, just small incremental habitual changes that keep adding on top of each other. And if we manage to stack small habitual improvement on top of small habitual improvement we get big changes that cause an overall improvement in our lives. None of the above mean you need to live like a hermit or just eat chicken and broccoli, but they do mean you have to commit to the longer term changes and give up the fads and be consistent in your thoughts and actions.
We often think the chains that hold us back are physical, where nine times out of 10 they are mental and we need to see these constraints for what they are.
As a colleague of mine @angela_kerrisk posted on social media over the weekend:
“In life, we can have results or reasons. If you are not getting the results you want, your reasons are the lies that you keep telling yourself.”
Your move. Let’s go!
Well-known Killarney man, Donncha Crowley, who lives in Woodlawn Park, was joined by his friends and staff from Centra, Muckross...
Musician Liam O’Connor back and busier than ever
By Sean Moriarty Local musician Liam O’Connor has gone from zero to hero following the lifting on the ban on...
Coach operators plead for Government aid in budget
By Sean Moriarty A Killarney tour operator has called for the Government to provide further financial aid for the...
Muckross Park Hotel & Spa launches exclusive Tea Room experience
The Tea Room at Muckross Park Hotel & Spa is a delightfully frivolous and charming room, pretty and glamorous with...
Real Kerry jersey to be sent to New York governor
By Michelle Crean New York’s newest governor – who has proud Kerry roots – is to receive a brand new...
Séamus Moynihan tops Kerry manager poll ahead of Jack O’Connor and Peter Keane
by Adam Moynihan Although it now appears as though he could be a selector on the Stephen Stack ticket, four-time...
Jordan’s new role with St Paul’s
By Sean Moriarty Killarney’s Paralympic hero Jordan Lee is to take on a new role with Scott’s Lakers St Paul’s...
Soccer coach licensed to one of the highest levels in Ireland
By Sean Moriarty A Killarney soccer coach has been praised by the FAI for her contribution to soccer in the...
Tobin hails Spa teammates following ‘fairytale’ final
by Adam Moynihan Spa have been desperate to win Kerry’s Intermediate Club Championship, and earn promotion back to senior level,...
Late drama at exciting Celtic Golf Classic
The last team out at the Killarney Celtic Golf Classic carded 106 points to overtake all who went before at...