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More great choices for large shrubbery





Following last week’s article on large shrubs, I received many comments, suggestions and questions, leading me to believe that there were quite a few people unsure of what to plant in a large space.

I felt at the end of the article there were definitely more plants for that list so here are some more great choices for the large shrubbery.

The bottlebrush, or Callistemon, is named appropriately for the shape of its flowers which are bottle-brush like spikes of many small flowers with long stamens, giving it that brush like appearance. Usually red, they are also available in yellow and pink. They flower in summer and into autumn adding a lovely splash of colour. Their leaves are hard and spiky with arching branches. Cut them back immediately after flowering or they will not flower the following year. If they do grow out of hand, they will tolerate a hard cut back.

Ceanothus, or the Californian lilac, is an often evergreen shrub bearing dark blue flowers. There are several sizes from the low creeping C. repens, to the tree like proportions of C. thyrsiflorus. An ideal candidate for the large border is C. ‘Gloire de Versailles’, which has large blue flowers from July to the end of autumn, (deciduous), or C. ‘Southmead’ which has dark blue flowers in early spring (semi-evergreen), or C. ‘Blue Mound’ which has deep blue flowers (evergreen). I find with all ceanothus that their flowering times seem to be very weather dependant!

Forsythia is a large common shrub which flowers early in spring before the leaves appear. I mention it as it seems to have gone out of fashion completely, though it adds such a fantastic yellow brightness in those dark February days.People often complain that it either grows out of all proportions or that it does not flower. If pruning, do so immediately after flowering. ‘Golden Nugget’ is possibly one of the smaller varieties at a natural five foot.

An unusual, but well worth finding plant is the Sorbus reducta. It is a low 1-1.5m type of mountain ash, with all the great features of its larger tree relatives! It forms a thicket – yes, it does sucker, but does not take over, has white flowers followed by dark red berries which fade to a creamy colour. Like most mountain ashes, its autumn colour is blazing!

Butterfly bushes, buddleja, are a much maligned plant as it can self seed and become a bit of a nuisance. However, it does not really self seed much in gardens where the conditions are not ideal, (ideal conditions – derelict, dry, stony waste land). Most cultivated varieties are sterile, so there is no reason to avoid them! B. colvilei is a very unusual variety, being semi-evergreen with large panicles of tubular dark pink flowers – these clusters can reach up to 20cm. B. davidii is the common butterfly bush and is available in a range of colours such as ‘Black Knight’, deep, deep purple, ‘Empire Blue’, blue flowers with orange centre, ‘Royal Red’, deep pink/maroon. One of my favourites is ‘Harlequin’ which has variegated leaves. There is a range of smaller butterfly bush available too; the ‘buzz’ series.

These remain compact, up to 1m, however their flowers are not quite as impressive! To remedy that, plant breeders have come up with a new variety – the ‘Rocketstar’ series. I have only just planted one, but it promises a diminutive 80cm with the same large flowers as large varieties have. If this plant does what its creators claim, it will certainly be a hit in my garden!



Kerry rowing clubs flock to Killarney for the start of the coastal season

There was a fantastic spectacle of colour and rowing on Lough Leane last Sunday (June 16th) with the coastal rowing clubs of Kerry participating in the first ‘Head of the […]




There was a fantastic spectacle of colour and rowing on Lough Leane last Sunday (June 16th) with the coastal rowing clubs of Kerry participating in the first ‘Head of the Lake’ time-trial for coastal one-design boats.

The event, hosted by the local Flesk Valley Rowing Club, signalled the start of the summer season for clubs rowing the coastal ‘one-design’ boats.

It was fitting that on the weekend that the Killarney National Park celebrated the 60th anniversary of the opening of Muckross House to the public, that hundreds of people also flocked to the Flesk Valley shore to appreciate and enjoy the splendour of the park.

Speaking after the event, Flesk Valley chairman, John Fleming thanked all the Kerry clubs who supported this new event and congratulated all the first-time rowers taking to the water in a competitive event for the first time.
“We were delighted to welcome our neighbouring clubs Workmens’ and Fossa, and look forward to renewing rivalries with them again at the Killarney Regatta at the end of this month,” he said.

“We would also like to thank Mary B. Teahan, Andrew Wharton, Johanna King and the Kerry Coastal Rowing Association for all their support and encouragement, and Denis O’Leary for coordinating safety on the water.”
Flesk Valley would also like to thank the Killarney National Park, Leanes Tool Hire, Hegartys Shop and Muckross Rowing Club for their support.

“This was a great start to the coastal rowing season, and augurs well for the months ahead as clubs build towards the All-Ireland Coastal Rowing Championships to be held in Dingle at the end of August,” added the chairman.

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NPWS announces nature scholarships to mark ‘Muckross 60’

Director General of the National Parks and Wildlife Service, Niall O’ Donnchú, this week announced the inaugural ‘Muckross 60’ nature scholarships to commemorate the 60th anniversary of the opening of […]




Director General of the National Parks and Wildlife Service, Niall O’ Donnchú, this week announced the inaugural ‘Muckross 60’ nature scholarships to commemorate the 60th anniversary of the opening of Muckross House and Gardens to the public. The scholarships will be funded and managed by the National Parks and Wildlife Service.

Niall O Donnchú said, “Killarney and Muckross have a very special place in Ireland’s heritage legacy, and  such beautiful gems need constant care, nurturing and indeed protecting by future generations. In supporting these third level scholarships, the NPWS is building the knowledge base of the future to assist those generations in continuing to realise the full beauty and nature value of the very unique Muckross House and Gardens and Killarney National Park.”

Mr O Donnchú added: “Killarney has a long history of scholarship, research and frontier work on nature and that continues to this day in the management of Killarney National Park and Muckross House and Gardens. The endowment of these annual scholarships is a very clear attestation that this crucial work continues to be undertaken across our national park system and especially here in Killarney and Muckross. This work has been pioneering in respect of wildlife and nature research and indeed the reintroduction of endangered species and the discovery, even this year, of more.”

Minister for Education and Kerry T.D. Norma Foley also welcomed new scholarships to mark the 60th anniversary of Muckross House.

“Muckross House is one of the jewels in the crown of Kerry tourism and received almost one million visitors last year. These scholarships will further add to our understanding of this outstanding part of our national heritage,” she said.

Muckross House was built by the Herbert family, who were local landlords. They became very wealthy during the 18th century due to the working of the copper mines on the Muckross Peninsula. They commenced the building of the present Muckross House in 1839. It was completed in 1843 at cost of £30,000, just two years prior to the Great Irish Famine. The Herbert family hosted the visit of Queen Victoria to Muckross House in 1861 but later got into financial difficulties and lost the house in 1897.

It was then bought by Lord Ardilaun, a member of the Guinness family. He in turn sold it in 1911 to William Bowers Bourn, a wealthy Californian gold miner. Bowers Bourn gave it to his daughter Maud as a wedding gift when she married Arthur Rose Vincent, an Irish barrister who later became a Senator.

After Maude died from pneumonia in 1929, Arthur Rose Vincent decided to donate Muckross house to the Irish nation as a memorial to his wife. Muckross House was transferred to the state in 1932 with its 11,000 acre estate and became Ireland’s first National Park in 1933.

The park and gardens were opened to the public but the house remained closed until 1964 when it was reopened as a folk museum on June 14, 1964 following a campaign by people in Killarney.

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