Digging up the Esker

We moved to our new home and garden in the Bog of Allen in the Irish midlands in 2006. This was our first real garden; we’d only gardened in pots up to then. Here was an opportunity to grow trees, shrubs, fruit, flowers and vegetables. We looked forward to growing fine acid-loving plants, only to find that, even though we were surrounded by bog, we were planted firmly on the Esker Ridge. The Esker Riada formed a trackway through the bogs in ancient times and forms part of the Slí Mhór, the great highway that crossed the midlands from Dublin to Galway.

This post-glacial gravel ridge shows up as soon as we dig down a few centimeters. It is made up of attractive blue grey stones and boulders, smooth and water rolled. We have unearthed some very impressive sized boulders from the lawn! Our garden has many advantages as a result of the ridge: it does not get waterlogged, and trees and fruit grow well here in the heavy clay. Our vegetables are grown in raised beds so we can enhance the soil every year with homemade compost. Only one very sad and sulky Camellia misses the promised boggy conditions.