a mediateam website

See a sample issue of The Irish Garden!

May 2012

To see a sample of the current issue of Ireland's best-selling gardening magazine, click the image below.

Accessing from an iPad? This edition is designed for PC and Mac access using Flash, which is not supported by the iPad. To access the iPad edition, search 'The Irish Garden' in the Apple app store.

Mary Davies is in the West

This is the season for visiting the famous stony landscapes, swept by Atlantic gales, on the opposite side of Ireland from where I live. Accustomed to the gently curving east-coast mountains, their lower slopes thick with trees and their summits wrapped in heather and bracken, the starkness of the bare Burren limestone always seems something of a marvel. These are curving hills, too, but of a different order to the granite and schist crests of Wicklow, with no more than fringes of scrubby vegetation. 

Growing plants in the gardens that skirt the bare hills is a more arduous task than tending them in rich acidic soils. Some of the front gardens seem no more than bare rock, miniature versions of the limestone pavements that fringe the coast; others have shrubs and trees planted into holes dug with the help of crowbars and pickaxes and filled with imported soil.

Many years ago an artist friend of mine, not Irish, followed the fashion of her fellow countrymen in buying an old cottage on the edge of the Burren. Her cottage had not been modernised - it consisted only of the traditional three rooms, and still had its thatched roof to accompany the tiny windows and single chimney stack. It stood facing towards the grey hills, on limy soils barely covering the rock beneath: at the back stone-walled fields led the eye to an expansive view of the sea. There were no trees in sight, only a wind-swept fuchsia hedge to frame the view.

The shrubs and flowers my friend added in front of her house were indeed planted into hard-won pockets in the limestone. But she managed to grow vegetables in the thin soil of her small field, and proudly reaped crops of rye to have milled for bread. Most adventurously, she learned to thatch and used the rye straw to renew the roof. It was a pleasure to visit a place of such tranquil self-sufficiency.

Last year in May I returned to the Burren, and visited another garden carved out of the inhospitable landscape. Up a narrow boreen, well off the tourist track, an exuberant plot occupies one part of an otherwise bare and narrow valley, at the point where an ancient bridge arches across a clear upland stream. Stone-walled terraces and steps lead up the slope from a stream-side pool filled with water plants, native and rare. The terrace borders, so laboriously made, are filled with a luxuriant mix of desirable plants; a multitude of verdant containers edge the steps; small birds nest everywhere in the wall crevices. It is a true oasis in the great wilderness of limestone.



Garden.ie Members

Not a member yet?
Join now to:

Join Now

Existing Members

Forgotten password

Garden.ie CLUB

Join Ireland's first online garden club! Share pictures of your garden, make new friends and chat with other gardeners. It's simple to join and free! Register Here

Featured Members

a mediateam website

©2018 Garden.ie. Mediateam Ltd, Media House, South County Business Park, Leopardstown, Dublin 18.

Tel (+353 1) 2947777 Email info@garden.ie

Website Design by KCO.ie