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With the right conditions lavender can thrive for years

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By Debby Looney, gardening expert

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

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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

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.

ONE LAST TIP

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!

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Killarney hotels are still open for business

By Sean Moriarty Only a few of the town’s 37 hotels are homing displaced people – according to Bernadette Randles, chair of the Kerry branch of the Irish Hotel Federation. […]

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By Sean Moriarty

Only a few of the town’s 37 hotels are homing displaced people – according to Bernadette Randles, chair of the Kerry branch of the Irish Hotel Federation.

This week she said that there’s still accommodation to be found in Killarney for visitors.

She was speaking in relation to the current accommodation situation facing International Protection Applicants and Ukrainian war refugees.

She explained that there is a perception that Killarney has taken in too many refugees and that it is putting the tourism industry at risk as people are starting to think that the town is at full capacity.

“If you can’t get a room in Killarney there is something wrong,” she said. “Maybe with the exception of New Year’s Eve.”

She added that hotels that are providing emergency accommodation are helping off-season unemployment.

Many hotels remain in survival mode after two years of pandemic turmoil and the additional off season business is important, she explained.

“Many could be closed at this time of the year, others would not be operating at full capacity,” she added.

However, she warned the Government needs to put a plan in place before the tourism season starts next year. Some hotels offering emergency accommodation either have a three or six month contract.

“I can see there will be tears next April – the Government must have a long-term plan,” she said.

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Homing refugees worth almost €14m

By Sean Moriarty Hotels, B&Bs and other accommodation suppliers in the Killarney area have secured contracts in excess of €13 million to accommodate Ukraine war refugees. The Department of Children, […]

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By Sean Moriarty

Hotels, B&Bs and other accommodation suppliers in the Killarney area have secured contracts in excess of €13 million to accommodate Ukraine war refugees.

The Department of Children, Equality, Disability, Integration and Youth released figures to the Killarney Advertiser.

Documents show that contracts totalling €13,852,255.00 are being shared between 13 premises in the Killarney urban area.

However, the department warned these figures are “indicative” only and the full value of the contracts depends on “occupancy and actual usage”.

The Eviston Hotel has secured a contract worth €5,727,590.00, the Innisfallen Hotel in Fossa for €2,404,620.00 and The Hotel Killarney signed a deal worth €1,701,000.00. These are the three biggest contracts published in the documentation.

This is only the tip of the iceberg, and Department officials say more contracts could come on stream. Figures seen by the Killarney Advertiser only cover contracted premises up to the end of September this year and updated figures are only released every three months.

“We are in contract with far more, but the formal exchange of contracts can take place sometime after the service commences,” a department spokesperson told the Killarney Advertiser.

“The Department of Children, Equality, Disability, Integration and Youth is obliged to publish a list of contracts formally signed off each quarter that have been awarded under a special EU Derogation that permits the Department to enter into contracts in the context of the Ukraine accommodation crisis without going to formal tender.

“The values of the contracts shown are estimates; the actual value materialises upon occupancy and actual usage. Standard contracts have no-fault break clauses available to both parties so again, the figures are indicative rather than actual.”

These figures only cover Ukrainian refugees fleeing the war and do not include International Protection Applicants.

The Department refused to release International Protection Applicant figures to the Killarney Advertiser.

“The International Protection Applicant accommodation contract information is commercially sensitive information and is not available,” added the Department spokesperson.

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