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Add heather for plenty of garden colour




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!

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New free local fitness group to motivate people back to health

By Brian Foley from Activate Fitness  Our mission at Activate is to extend and enhance the lifespan of 7,000 people in Killarney which is why we have set up a […]




By Brian Foley from Activate Fitness

Our mission at Activate is to extend and enhance the lifespan of 7,000 people in Killarney which is why we have set up a free health and fitness group. 

Our primary vehicle is our gym but we do a lot of other stuff, too, like:

* Train kids how to exercise in schools
* Helping frontline workers with their mindset
* Supporting local fitness events and teams
* Running fun social events in the community
* Raise funds for local charities

We’ve won awards for this stuff, but the real reward is moving the Killarney community back towards health. So today, I’m thrilled to share a free Facebook group: ‘Fitness, Nutrition & Health in Killarney’ with you.
Visit this link to join:

In that group, we’ll share helpful posts, tips, and support for everyone, whether you exercise at Activate or not. We’re also welcoming other health and fitness practitioners to join the group and help people find valuable and sensible advice around health and fitness.

When you join, Facebook will ask you a few questions, then my team will be around to support you and give you stuff to help.

If you have questions about fitness, health, longevity, nutrition, or exercise, go ahead and ask! If you have answers, please share! Let’s get some positive momentum going in Killarney!

What’s the deal with motivation?

I was having a discussion with a new client the other day and it came up that they sometimes feel a lack of motivation to keep working out. I know many of you feel like this sometimes, so I thought I would write about it today.

I really believe in discipline, as motivation is fleeting – but we’ll address this anyway. There are a few things that you can do to fool-proof the system. Here’s five ways.

1. Find an accountability partner:

When it comes to working out, having someone to hold you accountable can be a huge motivator. Whether it’s a friend, family member, or even a fitness coach, knowing that someone is counting on you to show up for your workout can help you stay on track.

2. Set realistic goals:

Setting goals is a great way to stay motivated, but it’s important to make sure they are realistic. If your goal is too lofty, you may find yourself getting discouraged when you don’t see results as quickly as you’d like. However, if your goals are achievable and realistic, you’ll be more likely to stick with your workout plan and see the results you want.

3. Find a workout routine you enjoy:

If you dread your workouts, it’s going to be very difficult to stay motivated. However, if you find an exercise routine that you enjoy, you’ll be more likely to stick with it. There are so many different types of workouts out there, so take some time to experiment and find one that fits your needs and interests. I feel a key facet many of us in the health and fitness industry miss regularly is making sure people are always engaged and challenged, so it remains fun to work out!

4. Reward yourself:

This one sounds a little weird, but for some, it can really work. One way to stay motivated is to reward yourself after setting a goal and reaching it. Whether it’s your favourite snack or a new piece of workout gear, treating yourself to something special can help keep you on track.

5. Get enough sleep:

This is the one thing we all hear that’s drilled into our brains – but for good reason! It’s important to get enough sleep when you’re trying to stay fit and healthy. When you’re well-rested, you’ll have more energy for your workouts and you’ll be less likely to skip them. So make sure to get plenty of rest each night!

Following these tips can help you stay motivated to workout, even when it feels like a struggle. Just remember to be patient, set realistic goals, and find an exercise routine that you enjoy. With a little effort, you can reach your fitness goals in no time!

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Irish food only for Lisa’s September challenge

Could you survive on a diet of food grown only in Ireland for one month – well that’s the challenge one Kerry woman has set herself. Artist and food activist […]




Could you survive on a diet of food grown only in Ireland for one month – well that’s the challenge one Kerry woman has set herself.

Artist and food activist Lisa Fingleton plans the unusual action as she will eat only food grown in Ireland for the entire month.

That means no sugar, lemons, olive oil, or coffee with the challenge designed to highlight issues with Irish food security.

In the seven years since Lisa founded the 30-Day Local Food Challenge, food supply chains have been hit by a succession of market shocks highlighting Lisa’s concerns with increasing urgency.

From seed shortages caused by Brexit to the global market shock of COVID-19 to potential shortages caused by the ongoing war in Ukraine, to the recent conversation about the need to reduce the Irish National Herd in line with carbon emissions targets, Lisa says there has never been a more important time to talk about Irish food security.

“This year in particular in Europe we are seeing the impact of war on food and the global reliance on Ukraine as an important wheat producer,” said the former Kerry County Council Artist in Residence who lives in Ballybunion.

“This has shown us more than ever just how fragile our food systems are. We need to focus on building sustainable and resilient food systems on the island of Ireland. This year we are encouraging people to do one local meal a day so they can make it really simple and have Irish porridge for breakfast or really elaborate with a meal grown in your own garden.”

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