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Snowdrops and daffodils making an early appearance this year




Winter is most definitely still with us, but these bright days have a wonderful optimism about them.

The garden is waking up, and many plants are starting to grow shoots already – I am looking out at my roses and see a haze of green.

There should always be colour in the garden, and it is easy to achieve this if you plant the right plants!
Bulbs are the obvious splashes of colour, with snowdrops showing, and daffodils making a very early appearance this year.
Muscari is about to flower, with crocus quick to follow. I have hundreds of Crocus ‘Romance' already in flower, creating a carpet of pale yellow.
I planted these just in front of our beehives as an early source of pollen for the bees, and any other pollinators out on a sunny day. Tulips will flower a bit later, along with hyacinths, which are my favourite! If you did not put down bulbs in Autumn, September or October, then do not despair! There are lots of bulbs available potted up, and these will come back year after year.
In my opinion, every garden should have at least a few of the following plants. At the front of any border, there should be a (few) Pulmonaria.
Growing only to about 20cm, they start to flower in February and continue right through March.
The brightest blue, ‘Blue Ensign’, an uplifting pink ‘Raspberry Splash’ and a deep purple, aptly named ‘Dark Vader’, are among my favourites.
Their foliage is also very pretty, with silvery splotches on a dark green leaf.
Winter flowering Heathers will continue to flower throughout the spring, I found the varieties available this year to be very varied. However, ‘Kramer’s Red' is still one of my go to's - it is reliable, it does not get too scraggly and is early to flower. Heather, along with pulmonaria, are also excellent sources of nectar for our winged friends. Apart from flowering, many Heathers also produce brightly coloured new foliage, such as ‘Spring Torch’.

Eranthis hyemalis, or winter aconite, is a pretty yellow flower, which happily naturalises under trees.
The epithet ‘hyemalis’ means winter-flowering, and indeed, this plant flowers during the coldest months.
Forsythia is a common shrub, flowering yellow before the leaves appear. I am not a great fan of the large varieties, ‘Sugar Baby’ is a cute variety that stays small and is very pretty tucked away in a border. Hamamelis, or Witch Hazel, is also an early flowering plant mine unfurled its spidery auburn flowers on Christmas day, well, I passed by it on the way to the wormery, and imagined it had started flowering as a gift to me!
Certainly, its scent should make Hamamelis a must-have, a mixture of vanilla and jasmine, which, on a sunny day is discernible from quite a distance. The flowers curl back into themselves when it is close to free6, to prevent frost damage. Nature is so amazing isn’t it?
The only drawback is the cost of this plant, you would expect to pay €20 for what looks like a twig in a pot.

The first few years are slow going, but once it reaches a certain point, it starts to grow and thicken.
It is not fussy and tolerates any soil, as well as wind. Some varieties to look out for are: ‘Early Bright’, one of the first to flower, bearing bright yellow blooms. ‘Kohanki red’ has orangey-red flowers, and its foliage rivals any reds in the autumn. ‘Aphrodite’ has bronze coloured flowers, and is a nice sized shrub for a medium-sized garden. ‘Diane' has bright orange flowers, and possibly the best scent of all.

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Eight month wait for a driving test in Killarney

A Killarney councillor is calling for action in an effort to reduce the driving test wait list in Killarney The current wait list for a test in Killarney sits at […]




A Killarney councillor is calling for action in an effort to reduce the driving test wait list in Killarney

The current wait list for a test in Killarney sits at eight months.

Cllr John O’Donoghue raised the issue at Monday’s full meeting of Kerry County Council.

He proposed that driving instructors should be employed to carry out the final test to reduce the current backlog.

At Monday’s meeting he asked that hat Kerry County Council would write to the Minister for Transport to ask him to consider giving driving instructors temporary powers to issue a temporary Driving Licence/Certificate of Competence to those on the waiting list for tests.

“The wait is currently far too long and the system is in danger of becoming completely overwhelmed,” he said.

“The huge waiting list for young drivers is well documented at this stage. In a case I am familiar with, a young person passed their theory test in January 2022 and he immediately applied for his mandatory 12 driving lessons. When these were completed, he applied for his driving test on the 2nd of December 2022. Some weeks ago, he still had not received an application to apply for his driving test. This wait is placing him and his family under considerable extra cost and stress which is completely unacceptable.”

In the course of his research into the matter Cllr O’Donoghue discovered that the next available date for a driving test in Killarney is May 25, 2024, while Tralee is June 3 2024.

“Bear in mind, these are only the dates on which you receive an invitation to book your test, the test itself will then be an estimated three to five weeks later.

“This is an appalling situation and one which needs to be rectified as a matter of urgency. I am proposing that driving instructors, which presumably are fully trained up on the rules of the road, be granted temporary powers to be allowed to issue temporary driving licences to young people. When the waiting list time has been reduced, I would still propose that these people sit the test as usual, but the current pressure needs to be alleviated as soon as possible. There is precedent as I believe that in the 1970s, a cohort in this country were issued driving licences without having sat a test as the wait time for the test was too long.”


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Ballymac charity vintage run on October 1

The Ballymac Vintage Club is hosting a classic car, tractor and Honda 50 run on October 1. The run will leave from and return to the Halfway Bar, Ballymac. Registration […]




The Ballymac Vintage Club is hosting a classic car, tractor and Honda 50 run on October 1.

The run will leave from and return to the Halfway Bar, Ballymac.

Registration begins at 9:30am and sets off at 11am.

“There will be two separate routes with one for tractors and the other for cars and motorbikes. Proceeds on the day are in aid of Castleisland Day Care Centre and we’ll have plenty of spot prizes to giveaway too in the morning,” said the club’s PRO Kieran Glover.


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