By Debby Looney, gardening expert
Nothing provides more reliable colour and interest throughout the winter months than heathers. A forgotten about group of plants, they have gotten a bad rep for overgrowing their welcome.
It is true that if not looked after they become lanky, woody, brown, straggly and unsightly. The only reason heathers become ugly is because they need a severe trim after flowering every year. Miss a year and things start going wrong. After flowering, cut back all heathers to the point at which they started flowering. This does not really have to be done carefully, you can take a shears or even a hedge trimmer to them. This is the only attention they will need all year!
Heathers fall into two groups, Calluna, and Erica. Callunas are lime tolerant and recognisable as such by their leaves and structure. The leaves are smooth and soft, and their growth is upright. Ericas do not tolerate lime, and their leaves are more like needles. They do not grow as tall as Calluna types, and their growth is horizontal more so than vertical. I think heathers look best in a designated bed as they compliment each other. Having said that, they also work really well as a border edging, especially Erica varieties as they tend to stay lower and have a nice round growth habit. I have Erica ‘Kramer’s Red’ along the driveway, in winter it blazes purple and in summer it is a nice dark green. Perfect! They are also ideal planted under roses as they provide a nice bit of interest in the winter. I have recently started adding the to mixed perennial beds too where I think they look great when all else has withered. Heathers are ideal for banks too, and will tolerate wind and fairly dry soil. Yes, I am a fan of heathers!
Some varieties to try are: Calluna ‘Silver Knight’, beautiful mauve flowers on silver foliage. C. ‘Dark Beauty’ – the deepest of burgundy flowers on rich green foliage, the most striking of all the dark flowered ones. C. ‘Wickwar Flame’, lavender flowers on golden foliage, good contrast. C. ‘Theresa’, pink buds on golden foliage – looks like it glows! C. ‘Helena’ white buds on bright green foliage, a welcome break from the pink colours. C. ‘Bonita’ has crimson buds on amber foliage, very pretty. Erica varieties: E. ‘St. Keverne’ has bright pink flowers early in the autumn, compact growth habit. E. ‘Darley Dale’ pink, but foliage has white tips in the spring. E. ‘Eva Gold’ pink flowers, golden foliage. E. ‘Furzey’ dark pink flowers, pink tips in spring. E. ‘White perfection', pure white flowers, E. ‘Moonshine', lime green foliage with pale pink flowers, E. ‘Saskia', masses of rose pink flowers clustered at the end of the shoots, very showy!
There is a relatively new trend in Calluna types emerging, one of which sells under ‘the Girls’ range or ‘bud heathers'. These are usually two or three different colours in one pot. They are different plants put in together and I have noticed in the garden one colour usually takes over from the others. The problem with these is that if you are planting for pollinators they are useless as the buds do not open! They are also, in my experience, not very reliable repeat flowers. All heathers, except these bud heathers are excellent for pollinators. They provide much needed pollen in winter and spring, and it is a great idea to plant them near your apple trees and other fruit plants in order to get pollinators into the habit of visiting a certain area of your garden. All in all, there should be a spot for heather in anyone’s garden!
Jobs to keep gardeners busy
The weather is glorious at the moment, so I thought I would put together some jobs to keep every gardener busy! Winter bedding is now available – so plant up containers and pots to keep everything cheerful this winter! Conifers such as Goldcrest and Elwoodiis are an excellent choice for a centrepiece, as are Cordylines, […]
The weather is glorious at the moment, so I thought I would put together some jobs to keep every gardener busy!
Winter bedding is now available – so plant up containers and pots to keep everything cheerful this winter! Conifers such as Goldcrest and Elwoodiis are an excellent choice for a centrepiece, as are Cordylines, Phormiums and topiary plants such as Buxus and Bay laurels. Heathers give colour all winter, as do ornamental cabbages. Winter pansies, violas and Batchelor’s buttons are all in stock now, and will provide colour for months, Cyclamen are beautiful – but beware! They do not like getting too wet, so ideally use them in pots and window boxes which do not get too much rain.
Bulbs provide a welcome splash of colour in the early spring, at a time when things are looking grey and grim. Choose from an extensive range – tulips, daffs, crocus, snowdrops – to name but a few. Planting mixtures of different varieties can lead to stunning displays in a pot, for example, plant in layers: tulips at the bottom, then daffs, hyacinth, crocus and anenomes for a long lasting pot of colour. In the garden plant bulbs in informal clusters of uneven numbers to give a natural looking display. Alliums are particularly trendy at the moment, these ornamental onions are available in pinks, white and yellow.
Pruning is one of those jobs which can give immense satisfaction. All old flower heads, the straggly growth of herbaceous plants and branches of unkempt shrubs can go into the compost heap. Pruning equipment can be confusing for the new gardener, so here are a few guidelines: there are two types of secateurs, bypass and anvil. The anvil secateurs is used for dead wood, but the bypass secateurs can be used for live as well as dead wood. The hedge shears are used to prune large shrubs or hedges, but is best for soft or thin growth. Loppers are used to prune trees and thicker branches and have long handles. These also come as anvil or bypass. Some of these are geared, these take the strain and strength needed out of the job, an excellent invention!
As the days get shorter and wetter, moss will start to grow again. Treat paths before they get slippy, with a product such as MossOff. Try to keep fallen leaves off lawns as they contribute to poor growth of grass and strong moss growth. A leafblower makes the job easy – especially a cordless one!
Lawns benefit from a final treatment in the autumn with a product such as an Autumn Lawn Feed and Weed or Viano Recovery from the producers of MO Bacter. These products both treat the roots of the grass, making the plant itself stronger for the winter. They do not cause excessive growth.
Finally, if there are empty beds in your vegetable garden, consider sowing a green manure such as winter rye or red clover. These will prevent weeds from taking over as well as enriching the soil with nitrogen. In the spring they can be cut down and dug into the soil, providing essential organic matter.
Take the stress out of a career change
By Niamh Dwyer, Chairperson of the Kerry Branch of Guidance Counsellors People change career for a variety of reasons. For some people the desire to change comes from feeling unfulfilled or stressed in a current role or the need for more flexibility and autonomy as circumstances in your personal life evolve. Other people are prompted […]
By Niamh Dwyer, Chairperson of the Kerry Branch of Guidance Counsellors
People change career for a variety of reasons. For some people the desire to change comes from feeling unfulfilled or stressed in a current role or the need for more flexibility and autonomy as circumstances in your personal life evolve.
Other people are prompted to change because of ambition to develop professionally, the desire for more meaning or purpose, job security or to earn more money.
Whether career change is forced upon you through organisational restructuring or is an active choice you are making, it can bring a mix of emotions. Among them is the fear and a lack of confidence on how to navigate the change effectively and the feeling of overwhelm associated with not knowing where to start. Conversely, it can be a time of great excitement about the possibility of taking on a new (and maybe very different) role or opportunity. Either way, drawing up a career action plan that breaks down the process into manageable tasks will help to ease any stress associated with career change and save you time and energy in the long run.
UNLOCKING YOUR POTENTIAL
Start by thinking about where you are now and where you would like to be – what are your priorities and non-negotiables and what are the practicalities you need to consider? To dig deeper do a self-assessment audit of your transferable skills and competencies, your career values and character strengths. Journal your career change journey by recording anything interesting you find out about yourself or career areas you are interested in. Some people like the idea of drawing up a career vision board as part of the process. Set clear goals and a specific timeline for yourself. As you gain more clarity, write out what your ideal job specification might look like, this will guide your job search. Explore options to up-skill or retrain if you feel this is helpful or necessary. Do a spring clean of your CV so that it reflects you accurately and favourably. Reach out to people in your network who may be able to assist you as you navigate this transition. Think about possible side projects you could work on to explore different areas before taking a big leap. Set up or update your LinkedIn profile, it is an important part of career development. Practice interview skills, you want to be able to perform confidently when they come around. Think about this process as unlocking the potential of your ‘career brand’ so that you and prospective employers have a strong sense of who you are professionally, what you value and what you bring to the workplace. Doing this work will enable you to approach your job search and career change with renewed confidence. It will take some time but it will be worth it!
Niamh Dwyer is a Guidance Counsellor in Scoil Phobail Sliabh Luachra, Rathmore, and Chairperson of the Kerry Branch of Guidance Counsellors. She is also a Careers Advisor – For details see www.mycareerplan.ie or follow @mycareerplan on Facebook, Instagram or Twitter.
Jobs to keep gardeners busy
The weather is glorious at the moment, so I thought I would put together some jobs to keep every gardener...
Take the stress out of a career change
By Niamh Dwyer, Chairperson of the Kerry Branch of Guidance Counsellors People change career for a variety of reasons. For...
Bereavement support group welcomes new members
Cancer support charity, Recovery Haven Kerry, is reaching out to those bereaved by cancer to join their monthly bereavement support...
Local DJ’s relief to be back behind the decks
By Michelle Crean It hasn’t been the easiest 19 months for most industries – and for one local man it’s...
Massive support for this year’s film festival
With 15 physical events and 30 online screenings this year’s Kerry International Film Festival (KIFF) was yet another resounding success....
Public welcome to see Kilcummin’s new state-of-the-art facilities
By Michelle Crean With brand new dressing rooms, a state-of-the-art fitness centre and gym, a referee’s room, a training pitch,...
Eileen rewarded for her dedication to athletics
By Sean Moriarty Well-known Dalton’s Avenue woman Eileen Switzer has been named as the Honorary President of Killarney Valley Athletic...
Eamonn Fitzgerald: How to improve the modern game
Fixing the tackle, binning the bin and cutting the numbers… Former Kerry goalkeeper Eamonn Fitzgerald puts forward a number of...
Big weekend ahead in Kerry Club Championships
A tantalising 48 hours of club football lies ahead with key semi-finals or finals taking place at every grade of...
Lakers and Cougars take positives from defeats
Killarney’s two Men’s National League teams suffered opening round defeats last weekend but both sides can take plenty of positives...