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Bring the outdoors in with flower arranging




By Debby Looney, gardening expert

Outside is not really my favourite place to be when the winter arrives. I could say I am beginning to feel my age, but if I’m being honest, I am definitely a fair weather gardener!


That is not to say I don’t feel the need to have plants around me! Apart from houseplants, another great way to bring the outdoors in is flower arrangements. Over the years, this hobby has broadened my knowledge of plants, flowers, and artistry. Colour combinations and shapes can be done on a small scale - a bowl for example, – and copied on a much larger scale in the garden. I find this especially with colour schemes.

For gardeners it is also a relatively cheap hobby. If greenery is varied and plentiful, you can create beautifully intricate arrangements with a minimum of flowers. However, varied foliage can be a study in texture. Or, alternatively, silk/artificial flowers can be combined with real greenery to great effect.

There are some ideal plants to grow if you feel this might be an appealing hobby – if not, the following plants will add variety to the winter garden!

Choisya ternata, also known as Mexican orange blossom, has shiny fresh green leaves in groups of three, with a gorgeous scent. There is a golden version available called Sundance, but the green variety is a stronger plant. They like semi-shade and grow to about one metre.

Helleborus, or Christmas rose, is a low growing plant which has large dark green three lobed leaves. This beautiful perennial will flower mid-winter, adding cheer even before snowdrops make an appearance. Pittosporum ‘Silver Queen’, a large shrub with small silvery leaves and dark, almost black, bark.

‘Tom Thumb’ is a dwarf variety with small burgundy leaves. Its new growth is bright green which contrasts beautifully with the deep burgundy foliage. ‘Golfball' has smaller leaves, silvery, and keeps to a small dome shaped plant.

Pieris japonica is a great plant for flower arranging. Its leaves grow in whorls with a good space between each group. They cover a lot in an arrangement! The flowers are also excellent for lasting. ‘Forest Flame’ is probably best known for its bright pink new foliage but there are many varieties to choose from. ‘Christmas Cheer’ flowers at Christmas time and ‘Little heath’ is a dwarf variety. ‘Valentine’ flowers red in February and is surprisingly hardy.

Viburnum tinus, harryanum and davidii are all great foliage plants. Viburnums, both evergreen and deciduous are among my favourite plants. They are hardy, trouble free and happy plants, which almost all do well in any kind of soil.

Corylus contorta, or the corkscrew hazel, is a deciduous plant but its stems are twisted and grow in fantastic shapes. There are catkins in the spring, to which some people are allergic. However, the stems are ideal instead of a Christmas tree to hang baubles from, or at Easter for an Easter tree.

Ozothamnus ‘Sussex Silver' is an ideal plant in exposed or seaside areas. It has long stems, and an evergreen, silvery foliage reminiscent of heather. If cut back hard each year, it remains fresh and bright. It is a super plant for adding height to floral arrangements and colour to the garden.

Fatsia japonica, also known as Aralia, has large five lobed leaves. ‘Spider’s web’ has white mottling in the leaves. These are grown as houseplants in many regions, but we are lucky to be able to grow them in a sheltered spot.

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Jessie Buckley to perform live on RTE this Friday 22nd September



This Culture Night, Muireann Nic Amhlaoibh will present an hour-long live music and arts programme from Dún Lúiche in the heart of the Donegal Gaeltacht at 7pm on RTÉ One and RTÉ Player.  

Actress and singer Jessie Buckley has been added to the list of stellar musicians who will perform with the RTÉ Concert Orchestra on the night. Jessie will perform a special rendition of a Sinéad O’Connor song in tribute to the late artist. 

Jessie commented: “I am very honoured to return to Culture Night 2023 to remember Sinéad O Connor with the RTÉ Concert Orchestra. Sinéad was such a huge influence on so many women in Ireland and across the world, her courage, her mind, her politics and her intense beauty and soul. She was a warrior to humanity. I remember hearing her for the first time and feeling her uncompromising need to connect and affect. Recognising what couldn’t be said and speaking it out loud. I am so grateful for all her fire and all her love. It is such a privilege to return to Ireland for RTÉ Culture Night in Donegal to sing a song of gratitude for Sinéad and her family and friends.” 

Other artists performing with the RTÉ Concert Orchestra include The Murder Capital, R&B singer and 2FM Rising star Aby Coulibaly and Irish-based Ukrainian musician Olesya Zdorovetska.  

Friday 22nd September, 7pm on RTÉ One and RTÉ Player 

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N22 Killarney to Faranfore road further delayed

The revealing of the preferred route corridor for the construction of the new Killarney to Farranfore road has been delayed – again. Four potential routes for the N22 Farranfore-Killarney project […]




The revealing of the preferred route corridor for the construction of the new Killarney to Farranfore road has been delayed – again.

Four potential routes for the N22 Farranfore-Killarney project were identified and were put out to public consultation in May 2021. These have now been whittled down to just one.

It was previously promised that the preferred route would be published late last year.

This dragged on in to the Spring and there is still no sigh of the preferred route being revealed.

A recent Kerry County Council meeting a council official explained that there are further funding requirements to allow the council complete various reports and investigations required before the road can move to its next phase.

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