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Arbutus trees are iconic in Killarney

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By Debby Looney, gardening expert 

Something I have been asked quite a bit is "are there any nice evergreen trees?" – by which I think people mean - not conifers!

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At this time of year, when trees are losing their leaves, it is nice to have a bit of height in the garden which has foliage. Also in terms of shelter, it is good to have a leafy screen. This does not necessarily mean a high conifer hedge.

Here are a few suggestions:

A great favourite of mine is Eucryphia. It can grow to about five metres, is evergreen with dark green leathery leaves. I might have mentioned it before, as it is also ideal in a small garden, it retains a narrow shape and flowers almost continuously, but mainly in the autumn. There is also a pink Eucryphia, called ‘Ballerina’, and a completely white one called ‘Rostrevor’.

Arbutus trees are iconic in Killarney, but also a beautiful tree for a larger garden. Well-known, they have white pendant flowers and are graced by crimson, strawberry shaped fruits in the autumn. The bark is a beautiful reddish brown, and it has a wide, spreading habit. It can also be clipped to grow as a large shrub. Similarly, Myrtle is a fragrant small tree/large shrub with small, pointy evergreen leaves, white flowers and a striking chestnut coloured bark. It flowers in late summer/early autumn, its fragrance is spicy and makes you think of Christmas! There is a variegated form also, Myrtus communis variegate.

Holm oak, Quecus ilex, if you have the space, is a majestic, large, evergreen tree. It can grow to 20 metres, and is ideal for seaside gardens. It has an unusually cracked black bark. It copes with pollution and salt, and when it is established, is very hardy. Quercus suber, the cork bark oak, is another evergreen oak tree. Its bark is a pale brown, also cracked, from which cork is made. It is not quite as hardy as the holm oak, but it is an unusual tree to have!

Podocarpus macrophyllus is technically a conifer, but so pretty I feel it needs a mention! It has longish bright green leaves and a graceful growing habit. Easy to trim and happy to be grown in any shape whatsoever, it has been used as bonsai, espalier or lollipop – as well as hedging! It is delicate looking, and not at all conifer like!

Eucalyptus trees are definitely my go to plant, they seem to grow anywhere. They tolerate extremely wet soil, dry soil, clay, sand, wind, shelter – an all rounder! They respond well to repeated cutting. I have some which I keep as large shrubs – they give great shelter. If cut often, their leaves also remain fresh and blue. Ideal for flower arranging, shelter and colour, I cannot recommend them enough. Of course, if you have the space and time, a mature eucalyptus is something special. Most of them have a peeling bark which comes off in long spirals, leaving a tiger striped surface beneath. An underused plant!

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Is it a good time to sell your property?

By Ted Healy of DNG TED HEALY Recently published property outlooks are suggesting single digit growth in prices this year. The MyHome.ie quarterly report found the market had held up […]

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By Ted Healy of DNG TED HEALY

Recently published property outlooks are suggesting single digit growth in prices this year.

The MyHome.ie quarterly report found the market had held up better than evidence had suggested in 2022. The number of vendors cutting asking prices remained at low levels, while many house prices were being settled above asking prices.

However, the report warned that the resilience of the housing marking is set to be tested this year. It found annual asking price inflation slowed to six percent nationwide, meaning the asking price for the average home in Ireland is now €330,000.

There were 15,000 available properties for sale on MyHome.ie in the fourth quarter of the year – an improvement on the same time last year but still below pre-pandemic levels.

Average time to sale agreed was 2.7 months nationwide which the report said is indicative of a very tight housing market.

The report said it expects to see 28,400 house completions in 2022, exceeding its previous forecast of 26,500 finished units.

The author of the report, Conall MacCoille, Chief Economist at stockbrokers Davy, said it appeared the market had held up better than evidence had suggested.

“The number of vendors cutting their asking prices is still at low levels. Also, transactions in Q4 were still being settled above asking prices, indicative of a tight market,” he said.

Recent months had seen worrying trends in the homebuilding sector, with housing starts slowing, and the construction PMI survey pointing to the flow of new development drying up.

“We still expect housing completions will pick up to 28,400 in 2022 and 27,000 in 2023. However, the outlook for 2024 is far more uncertain. The Government’s ambitious plans to expedite planning processes are welcome although, as ever, the proof will be in the pudding,” he added.

Locally, and unsurprisingly, the lack of supply of new and second-hand properties remains the dominant issue. There has been very little new construction due largely to the rising cost of construction, labour, materials and utilities which in turn is putting pressure on the second hand market.

This market proved particularly strong in 2022 with active bidding experienced on the majority of house sales and a large proportion of guide prices being generally exceeded.

The detached family home end of the market is particularly strong with increased competition for a limited number of available well located family homes.

So, what lies ahead and is it a good time to sell your property?

The answer is a tight market with scarcity of supply being a factor. If selling now you will benefit greatly from a lack of supply of available homes (therefore less competition) provided your property is marketed correctly of course!

For anyone considering placing their property on the market, contact DNG Ted Healy 064 6639000 killarney@dng.ie for genuine honest advice on how to achieve the best possible price for your home.

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Tourism VAT rate should be “continued indefinitely”

A Kerry Fianna Fáil Councillor believes the current 9% tourism VAT rate should be continued indefinitely despite “the allegation that some hotels were not passing on the saving to its […]

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A Kerry Fianna Fáil Councillor believes the current 9% tourism VAT rate should be continued indefinitely despite “the allegation that some hotels were not passing on the saving to its customers”.

The reduced VAT rate of 9% was introduced by the Government in response to the challenges posed by COVID-19 to the hospitality sector.

“I believe a return to a 13.5% Tourism VAT rate would be counterproductive at this stage, to small and medium businesses that welcome visitors to our country and our county,” Councillor Michael Cahill said.

“Catered food is already charged at 13.5%, alcohol at 23% and accommodation presently at 9%. This sector is providing pretty decent returns to the Exchequer and should be supported. All parties in this debate, including the Government and accommodation providers, should review their position and ensure their actions do not contribute to ‘killing the Goose that laid the Golden Egg’.”

He explained that the tourism industry is “in a very volatile market”, as can be seen by the enormous challenges “posed by COVID-19 in recent years”.

“A grain of rice could tip the balance either way and great care must be taken not to damage it irreparably. We are all aware that the next six to 12 months will be extremely difficult for many businesses with the increase in the cost of oil and gas, etc,, and a return to the 13.5% VAT rate will, in my opinion, close many doors. If a minority are ‘price gouging’, then it should be possible to penalise them and continue to support the majority who offer value for money to our visitors.”

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