Stony gardening by the Burren

Stony gardening

While Casa Ceoil is not in the heart of the Burren or officially in the national park, we are by the edges and get to experience it up close at times. Let me tell you, it is not the best experience in my garden.

The Burren is a unique landscape in the west of Ireland, here you will see flat arid-looking limestone areas, mixed up with patches of green fields, turloughs and lakes. The name says it all, as it means “the rocky place”. The limestone area is referred to as a pavement, and when you see it you are not surprised as it is so flat, ground down by the moving pre-historic ice masses. The limestone is broken and in the crevices, there is a unique flora of Mediterranean, Alpine and Arctic flowers and plants growing.

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The old part of the house has an integrated boulder into the corner. 

That is all very nice, but what does that have to do with my garden? Well, I never knew, until I lived here that is, that stones literally grow out of the ground in the Burren. Yes, in this part of Ireland stones grow in your garden as if you planted them like spuds (Irish slang for potatoes).

It seems like a joke or an exaggeration, but once you’ve gardened a few years you stop doubting that you forgot to dig out certain rocks the previous year. The number of stones and large rocks that are dug out of my garden each year is astounding. It doesn’t matter how thorough I am, my spade always says “clink” when I dig.

This year we’ve had volunteers on working holidays with us; and they sweated over the stones in the beds of my polytunnel. I don’t think they truly could believe that we each year dig out the same amount of stones they struggled with.


This bed was dug, thoroughly, a month or so ago.

This was only a few months ago, and only the other day I dug out a small pile of large stones and a boulder (see the image on the left).

This growth of stones became apparent to me a few years ago. Kevin had decided to plant spuds and scraped out the grass on an area of one of the fields. He never got the chance to set the spuds and the piece of bare ground was left alone.

The year after I was astounded; that bare piece of earth was covered with stones in varied sizes. There were no stones on the grass around it, but on that bare patch it looked as we had planted stones and they had reproduced like crazy. Why stones don’t push up through the grass I will never know, but it was a lesson in geology…the earth is in constant movement.


A part of this year’s crop of Burren stones and boulders.

We all think of stones and rocks as static, but they are actually in constant movement, and nowhere more than here, on the edge of one of the rockiest places on earth. So that is what I have to look forward to in my gardening, forever, a constant production of stones. It is not strange that the stones are pushed up through the softest area of little resistance, the soft earth of my raised beds.

It still surprises and amazes me, every year, and I have to ask myself…could I really have missed that boulder last year when digging my beds? There is no way that rock appeared from nowhere. But I should know by now, the Burren is bountiful when it comes to stone; at least we do have beautiful walls.


Sometimes you dig out the most interesting boulders.

3 thoughts on “Stony gardening by the Burren

    • casaceoil says:

      Yes, the Perfumery ir really lovely and has one of my favourite coffee shops in Clare. We are about 30 min from there. I also love the walled garden in Knappogue Castle in Quinn, also close by.

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