Connect with us


With the right conditions lavender can thrive for years




By Debby Looney, gardening expert

A plant which is synonymous with long, hot summers, is lavender.


A Mediterranean plant, it can be tricky to grow, indeed, impossible for some of us! Before spending too much on these plants, it is worth remembering that this plant hails from hot, dry countries, and therefore some gardens with wet, clay or dark conditions, will not suit it at all. It prefers slightly alkaline, well-drained conditions. Plant in full sun, south facing is best. If your soil is wet, or clay, mix plenty of organic matter and sand in with it, and even then, planting on a mound or ridge is preferable. If the soil is very acidic, adding lime can greatly improve growth. Lavender can be grown very successfully in pots, as they do not like soil to be too fertile, or wet. Keeping them quite dry over winter improves their resistance to cold.

When happy, lavender can thrive for years. It tends to become woody after a few years, and pruning is essential. Many books recommend pruning in spring, but I find cutting back immediately after flowering, in late summer, is best. Lavender does not ‘break’ easily from old wood, that is, buds do not easily come from old wood, therefore if plants have become lanky and woody, it is usually better to replace them.


Cuttings can be taken in early autumn, or spring. They are quite easy to root, but anticipate a 50 percent failure/success rate, as the cuttings often rot just after rooting. Good ventilation is necessary for a better success rate, as well as fungicide which is unavailable to the amateur gardener!

Lavender can be grown in many situations, they are popular in a formal garden, both as a filler plant behind buxus hedges, or as hedging in their own right. It has long been associated with roses, and is often used as under planting or companion planting in rose gardens. In the border, it is beautiful planted with bright green alchemilla mollis, or ladies mantle, peonies, phlox or penstemon. A contemporary way of using it is with Verbena bonariensis and Agapanthus. Blue/silver gardens are very trendy currently, and it is used extensively with rosemary, salvias, veronica, eryngium, caryopteris and perovskia.

There are many varieties of lavender to choose from, but there are basically three types: French (or Spanish), English and a hybrid of the two called Lavendin. The ones we see in garden centres are usually the first two. French lavender has flowers with ‘ears’, two long petals at the top. English lavender is the traditional variety, which, it must be said, grows better in our wet climate. It has the stronger scent, a bushier, more compact growing habit, and, in my opinion, better colour. ‘Munstead’ and ‘Hidcote’ are the hardiest and oldest English lavenders. French lavender is available in so many varieties it is often difficult to see the difference between them, but a tall one to look out for is ‘Vera’, and there is a whole ‘wings’ range which grows well.


A fantastic alternative to lavender is catmint, or Nepeta, in particular ‘Six Hills Giant’. It also has mauve coloured spikes of flowers, but is an exceptionally easy plant to grow in most adverse conditions!



Fossa School says ‘bonjour’ to French classes



Fossa National School is giving its pupils a headstart in learning a new language.

The school signed up to Language Sampler scheme as part of the ‘Say Yes to Languages’ initiative in primary schools organised by Post Primary languages Ireland in 2021. This is the school’s third year running the module.

Hélène Olivier-Courtney, the school’s French teacher and director of French For All Killarney School of French, covers ten schools in Kerry over the three terms.

The success of the initiative relies on an all-school approach and the active involvement of class teachers and management.

“The whole staff in Fossa certainly helped make this new journey a special and enjoyable experience for the children as we learnt French through art, songs, games and food tasting! This year, we also organised a catwalk on our last day. Our sixth-class students will have such a head start before secondary school and most importantly will have develop curiosity interest and love for the language,” said Hélène.


Continue Reading


Opinion: Silent majority needs to stand up and call out far-right hate



By Chris Davies

Last Friday’s Dublin Riots should not have come as a surprise to anyone. It has been bubbling under the surface of Irish society for a good number of years now. The actions of a small minority last week was a culmination of years of racism, hatred and misinformation shared online by far-right groups.

Late on Friday night a disturbing WhatsApp voice note was doing the rounds on social media where a far-right actor could clearly be heard encouraging violence on the streets of Dublin. 

“’Seven o’clock, be in town. Everyone bally up, tool up…Any foreigner, just kill them”

Watching the Riots unfold on social media brought me back to when I was working in Dublin a number of years back. My morning commute from Skerries to the city centre involved a dart to Connolly Station followed by a short trip on the Luas to the Jervis. Every week, without fail, I would witness at least one racial slur or attack on someone who didn’t fit the narrow minded view of what an Irish person should look, dress or talk like. I don’t know if it is the eerie silence of public transport that seems to amplify the situation, but that’s where I found it to be most common. The abuse was usually perpetrated by a group of youths or someone who was clearly under the influence of drink or drugs. The victims were always of colour, often dressed smartly enough to presume they were on their way, or coming from work. A far cry from the perpetrators who you could tell were roaming aimlessly around the city looking for trouble.

While shameful to admit, I would often look on and watch the abuse unfold, only to spend the rest of my work day thinking about the poor person who was told to “F*&K off back to your own country”. I would sit at my desk questioning why I didn’t step in and say something. There were one or two occasions where I did step in and call it out, but not nearly often enough.  

This disgusting behaviour is much more visible in our cities. Since moving back to Killarney I wouldn’t witness as much direct abuse on the streets but working with the Killarney Advertiser I would be tuned in to local news and some of the comments I read on our social platforms are far worse than anything I witnessed during my time in Dublin.  

There is a significant group of people in Ireland that I would call the ‘silent majority’. We are not as outspoken on issues we care about. We tend to observe and consume the news quietly, and only speak of our support or disgust on certain issues in close circles, too afraid we might offend someone. The problem with this is that we are leaving these far-right groups unchallenged, to become louder, more aggressive and more hostile as seen last week. 

The past week Sinn Fein and the Social Democrats have been busy in the media expressing no confidence in Justice Minister Helen McEntee and Garda Commissioner Drew Harris but I would suggest that there is a large percentage of the Irish population that bears some of the responsibility. We witness racism in our communities and online every day and we need to start speaking up and calling it out. 

On the issue of immigration in Killarney, there is no doubt resources are being stretched and our tourism industry is suffering as a result of an influx of immigration. Locals have also raised concerns in relation to the placement of so many male international protection applicants in one setting and we only have to look back on the incident in Hotel Killarney last year where a number of men were involved in a harrowing stabbing incident to see how that played out.  

However, being concerned around immigration is not the same as anti-immigration. It is important to raise these issues with local representatives and Kerry TD’s but also to separate ourselves from far-right groups who are only interested in encouraging violence.  

The anarchy we witnessed last week should never be the answer and research shows it is completely unnecessary. Harvard University have looked at hundreds of protests over the last century, and found that non-violent campaigns are twice as likely to achieve their goals as violent campaigns and that it only takes around 3.5% of the population actively participating in the protests to ensure serious political change.

Let’s continue to protest peacefully for issues we believe in, but stand up and speak out against people and movements in our community that incite hate and violence. 

Continue Reading

Last News