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Ideal ground cover plants




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!


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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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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