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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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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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