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Ideal ground cover plants

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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.

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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.

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Treat yourself to a hot stone massage

By Jill O’Donoghue from Killarney Toning and Beauty Studio A hot stone massage is one of the most relaxing treatments you can get for yourself. With a heated couch, relaxing […]

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By Jill O’Donoghue from Killarney Toning and Beauty Studio

A hot stone massage is one of the most relaxing treatments you can get for yourself.

With a heated couch, relaxing music and candles lit, your therapist will apply the heated stones covered in oil to gently but firmly glide over the muscles. It’s pure bliss.

While using the stones it allows the therapist to go deeper into the muscles, relieving aches and pain while encouraging better blood circulation and lymphatic drainage allowing the toxins to leave the body faster so you can feel better. The stones help to repair damaged soft tissue and improve your energy levels, skin tone and texture loss.

The heated stones help to instantly release tension in your back and shoulders so those muscles can be worked on more effectivily. This really helps to achieve deep relaxation and peace of mind.

The stones are a smooth flat basalt, a type of volcanic rock that retain heat. They come in different sizes for different areas of the body. A hot stone massage will also increase blood flow in an affected area, reduce muscle spasms and increase flexibility. Like all massages, it really helps to reduce stress and anxiety, and any time you remove toxins from the body it helps to induce relaxation. Also, you will be more alert, active and positive after a proper deep night’s sleep.

Hot stone massage is great for anyone with rheumatoid arthritis and clients have mentioned it improves their grip strength, that they have less pain and a greater range of motion.

A good massage has so many great benefits with one of its most amazing ones is that it can give your immune system a boost.

Regular massage also helps to regulate water retention and blood pressure.

I highly recommend a hot stone massage, especially if you haven’t tried it yet. Please call Jill to book in, or for more information, on 064 6632966.

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Three easy ways busy people can eat healthy

By Brian Foley from Activate Fitness If you’re like most people, you’re always on the go and don’t have time to cook elaborate meals, and you certainly don’t have time […]

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By Brian Foley from Activate Fitness

If you’re like most people, you’re always on the go and don’t have time to cook elaborate meals, and you certainly don’t have time to eat unhealthy junk food.

That’s why we’ve put together this list of three easy ways to eat more healthy. These nutrition tips for busy people will help you stay fit and healthy without spending a lot of time in the kitchen!

PROTEIN

One easy way to eat healthy is to make sure you’re getting enough protein. Protein helps your body repair itself and build muscle, so it’s essential for anyone who wants to stay fit and healthy. You can get protein from lean meats, poultry, fish, beans, nuts, and seeds. If you’re vegetarian or vegan, there are plenty of plant-based sources of protein like tofu, tempeh, lentils, and quinoa. Just make sure you’re getting a variety of proteins to get all the essential amino acids your body needs.

FRUITS AND VEGETABLES

Another easy way to eat healthy is to load up on fruits and vegetables as they are packed with vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants that are essential for good health. Plus, they’re low in calories and fat, so you can eat as much as you want without having to worry about packing on the pounds. Aim to fill half your plate with fruits and vegetables at every meal.

LESS PROCESSED FOODS

The last easy way to eat healthy is to cut back on processed foods which are often high in sugar, salt, and unhealthy fats. They can also be low in nutrients like vitamins and minerals. If you want to stay healthy, focus on eating whole, unprocessed foods like fresh fruits and vegetables, lean meats, fish, whole grains, beans, legumes, nuts, and seeds. You’ll feel better and have more energy when you cut processed foods out of your diet.

There you have it! Three easy ways to eat healthy. Just remember to get enough protein, load up on fruits and vegetables, and cut back on processed foods. If you do these things, you’ll be well on your way to a healthier lifestyle.

If you would like some further accountability and help the Activate Nutrition team are running a ‘6 Week Fat Loss Course’ starting on October 17 which will help you dial in your nutrition and lifestyle to improve your health marker for 2023. For further information drop us an email at nutrition@activate.ie.

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