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A kiss under the mistletoe!

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By Debby Looney, gardening expert

Almost as evocative of Christmas as the Poinsettia is the Christmas cactus, or the Schlumbergera truncata and with its flat, succulent, jointed leaves and colourful flowers, which brings cheer to any room.

These plants are indigenous to the Brazilian rainforest and are actually epiphytic, meaning they live high up in the tree canopy, nestled in the limbs of great trees. They therefore enjoy moisture, and relatively cool temperatures. Buds and flowers will drop off if the plant dries out completely, or if it is over or near a radiator or other heat source.

This is a plant which will survive for generations, there are some over a hundred years old handed down like heirlooms in families!

The trick for getting them to flower at the right time is to have them in a room where they get up to 16 hours of darkness in every 24 hour period, as well as giving them more water with a very small amount of feed added. It is important that there is absolute darkness, not even an occasional switching on of a light. When the buds appear you may move them to a different place. During summer months, keep them out of direct sunlight, as they scorch easily, causing the leaves to redden. Keeping in mind the fact that they are rainforest natives helps when taking care of them!

Mistletoe

Another epiphytic and parasitic tree dweller, equally synonymous with Christmas, is mistletoe. Popular for the tradition of kissing beneath a bunch of it, many gardeners ask me how they might grow their own. We are a romantic bunch! Mistletoe grows on host trees, such as apples, poplar, hawthorn, lime and many others. The berries are sticky and white, favoured by many birds. It is possible to grow it. You will need some fresh berries, preferably picked in March when they are ripe and a tree at least 15-years-old.
Those sold at Christmas are not ripe yet and will not germinate. Any younger and it will suffer due to the parasitic nature of the mistletoe. Simply take a good branch, make a little slice under the bark and insert the berries, maybe three or four together. Wrap with hessian or moss to prevent them falling out, and wait... About one in five should germinate, but the first year you will see nothing as it is only a root and a hypocotyl which grows. The second year you will see a small sprig, and after about five years you will be able to cut some for the house. It is a bit of a wait, but hopefully that kiss will be worth it!

I would like to wish all gardeners and readers of this column a Happy Christmas, and many thanks for all the positive and beautiful comments over the past year!

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Future Kerry railway plans revealed

By Sean Moriarty Elected members of Kerry County Council have led calls for Iarnród Éireann’s timetable to fall into line with airline schedule at Kerry Airport. On Monday of this week Barry Kenny of Iarnród Éireann gave a presentation to elected members of the council. During the meeting he outlined some of the railway company’s plans […]

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By Sean Moriarty

Elected members of Kerry County Council have led calls for Iarnród Éireann’s timetable to fall into line with airline schedule at Kerry Airport.

On Monday of this week Barry Kenny of Iarnród Éireann gave a presentation to elected members of the council.

During the meeting he outlined some of the railway company’s plans and ambitions from now until 2027.

These include an increase in frequency on the Tralee to Mallow line.

It is hoped to have one train an hour operating on the line at peak times and two-hourly off-peak.

In a perfect world, the rail station at Farranfore would be placed across the road from the airport and not a 1km walk away but such a move is not likely to happen.

Cllr Norma Moriarty, of the Kenmare Municipal District explained how she was on trip to Yorkshire a few years ago.

“I flew from Kerry to Manchester and was able to get a connecting train to Yorkshire without ever leaving the airport building,” she said. “The people I was visiting were very surprised to hear me talk about this so much – it is normal to them.”

Under the Strategy 2027 plan Killarney rail station will get repainted and new signs will be put in place during 2022.

Additional parking spaces will be created at Farranfore Railway station and this lead to calls for a similar expansion at Rathmore.

“A lot of people from South Kerry use Rathmore railway station,” said local councillor Niall Kelleher. “They drive up from Kenmare and cut across by Glenflesk.”

Mr Kenny said he would take the Rathmore comments back to the Iarnród Éireann engineer in charge of parking strategy.

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Walking and cycling projects set for upgrade 

Commuters and nature enthusiasts will benefit from €4.13m in funding allocated to Kerry County Council for walking and cycling projects. €350,000 has been allocated for Transport/Mobility Plans for Killarney, Tralee and Listowel. Locally €704,835 is being given towards an interconnected network of cycleways on Rock Road, while there’s €70,000 funding for the Deerpark Road/Gealscoil Junction to include […]

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Commuters and nature enthusiasts will benefit from €4.13m in funding allocated to Kerry County Council for walking and cycling projects.

€350,000 has been allocated for Transport/Mobility Plans for Killarney, Tralee and Listowel.

Locally €704,835 is being given towards an interconnected network of cycleways on Rock Road, while there’s €70,000 funding for the Deerpark Road/Gealscoil Junction to include an interconnected network of cycleways. €300,000 is planned for an interconnected network of cycleways for the Gaelscoil Road/Chestnut Drive area, while The Flesk Walkway and Cycleway, Killarney is to get €123,866, as well as a further €186,527 for Rock Road.

Deputy Government Chief Whip, Brendan Griffin TD has said the funding from the National Transport Authority (NTA) will deliver high quality upgrades to walking and cycling infrastructure, with sustainable transport modes vital as the county emerges from the pandemic.

“I am pleased that Kerry County Council has been awarded funding which is part of an overall total of €289 million for approximately 1,200 Active Travel projects across the country,” Deputy Griffin said.

“Ensuring we have a good and efficient transport system in Kerry is essential for the future as we aim to make our communities and town centres more vibrant, in addition to making commuting to work and school safer and easier. Over the past two years we have spent more time enjoying our outdoor amenities and investing in active travel will also help us to meet our climate change obligations.”

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