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Lavender can thrive for years




By Debby Looney, gardening expert

One plant we associate with summer days must surely be lavender. Whether or not we have ever grown anything or have a garden, we seem to instinctively feel that lavender is part of summer. It is the one plant most beginners know, and buy. However, it is worth noting that it hails from hot, dry countries, in particular southern France, but the chalky areas of England. It needs quite the opposite growing conditions to what we can offer it here in Kerry! Therefore we must help it where we can, so that we are not completely wasting our time, effort and money! It prefers slightly alkaline, well-drained conditions. Plant in full sun, south facing is best. If your soil is wet, or heavy, mix plenty of organic matter, horticultural grit and sand in with it, and even then, planting on a sloped site is preferable. If the soil is very acidic, adding lime can greatly improve growth. Lavender can be grown very successfully in pots, and tolerate the occasional drying out quite well. Try to water them in the morning so they can dry before nightfall. This will prevent mouldiness, and subsequent rotting. Keeping your plants as dry as possible over winter improves their resistance to cold.


When happy, lavender can thrive for years. Pruning is absolutely essential and contrary to some advice, I find cutting back immediately after flowering, in late summer, is best. Lavender does not ‘break’ easily from old wood, that is, buds do not easily come from old wood, therefore if plants have become woody, it is usually better to replace them. Cuttings can be taken in early autumn or spring. They are easy to root, but the cuttings often rot just after developing roots. The only way to prevent this is by providing good ventilation and not over watering.


Lavender has long been associated with roses, and is often used as under planting or companion planting in rose gardens. Some gardeners believe it can keep aphids at bay, but I cannot attest to that! In the border, it is beautiful planted with bright green alchemilla mollis, or ladies mantel.
While there are many varieties of lavender to choose from, there are three distinct types: French (or Spanish), English, and a hybrid of the two called Lavendin. The ones we see in garden centres are usually the first two. French lavender has flowers with ‘ears’; two long petals at the top. English lavender grows better in our wet climate. It has the stronger scent, a bushier more compact growing habit, and, in my opinion, better colour.


Unfortunately, a lot of people have limited success with lavender, due mostly to our weather. Two alternatives to try are rosemary and nepeta. The scent of rosemary will evoke the same sense of summer warmth as lavender, but is much sturdier in our climate. It will flower in winter, and sporadically throughout the year, adding colour as well as scent to the garden. It can be upright or creeping, the creeping one being particularly useful in large groceries with poor soil. Nepeta, also known as cat mint is ideal to replace lavender in terms of flowering time and colour. Throughout the summer catmint is a haze of blue/mauve. It has a pungent smell which is not to everyone’s liking, but is completely hardy and reliable. A tall version, 40cm, is ‘Six Hill's Giant' and a smaller 25cm one to try is the deep blue ‘Purrsian Blue' - (not a spelling error- the creators of new varieties are playing with the ‘cat’ theme!) Nepeta disappears over winter, and the stems can be tidied away as they dieback, butchery will always return early in the new year.

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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 […]




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 […]




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!


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.


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.


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


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