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Plant names can be confusing




By Debby Looney, gardening expert

Common plant names really can be confusing… and one plant name which could not mean more different things to different people must surely be the ‘Lily’.

If we take size, lillies can be the tiny ‘Lily of the Valley’ or convallaria, 15cm tall, to the stately ‘Himalayan lily’, or Cardiocrinum, 5m tall. Alphabetically, lillies can be the ‘Peruvian lily’, or Alstroemeria, or ‘St.Joseph’s lily’, aka, ‘Altar lily’ which is at the opposite end of the alphabet, being a Zantedeschia…. Confusing? Absolutely! When I think of lillies I automatically think of those found in bouquets, but even then, are they Stargazers - oriental lillies, Easter lilles - longiflorums, or tiger lillies - lancifolium?

I am not writing this article in order to frustrate, rather to clarify and explain. Many people, when they ask a ‘straightforward’ question about lillies, are met with a perplexed look, and then the ‘smart’ question: ‘which type?’ So I will go through the broad groups in order to show that everyone has a different plant in mind when they say the word ‘Lily’!

Most frequently people mean the Calla lily. These are the plants which have long, strappy leaves which appear directly out of the soil, and the ‘flower’ is truly a spathe around a spadix. A spathe is a coloured bract, a spadix is a spike of tiny flowers. A true calla is a bog plant with a white spathe, also known as bog arum. On the other hand, a true Arum lilly is also a plant with a spathe in either white or yellow, which gets spikes of bright red berries, and is known as ‘Lords and Ladies’. This plant prefers a well drained moist soil, at the side of running water is ideal. Arum lillies are often confused with ‘Altar lillies’ – which go by a host of other common names – the tall white lillies common in so many (older) gardens. These are easy to grow in moist soil in full sun. They are fairly hardy, but in case of a cold winter it is wise to cover them with a deep mulch in the autumn. Generally they are sold as small, almost unrecognisable plants in the garden centre, as they take a few years to mature to flowering. Their colourful counterparts, currently available in deep orange, bright pink, dark purple and cheerful yellow, are always for sale in flower, though they are smaller and less hardy. They benefit from being taken indoors in the winter or should be treated as an annual plant. These are often marketed as Calla lillies, but are actually Zantedeschia too. The large white variety is Zantedeschia aethiopica, leading to one of its common names, Ethiopian Lily, which then gets confused with the African Lily, which is in fact an Agapanthus africanus. These are the strappy leaved plants with the clusters of mainly blue flowers on tall stems, which are in flower at the moment. Agapanthus is a clump forming plant which prefers full sun and rich, moist soil. There are many varieties available, from ‘Blue Giant’ which grows to 1.2m tall and is very free flowering, to the tiny ‘Lilliput’ which grows to 30cm with purple flowers. I find the white, dark purple and mixed colours less hardy than the blue, so covering them with a mulch is advisable.
I hope I have cleared up some confusion – however, next week we will delve a little further into the world of lillies!

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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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