This isn't intended to expert advice on gardening on the Aughrus Peninsula - far from it! Indeed, if others have additional advice, or feel a need to contradict what's written here, please feel free to contact us. But we're adding this page because of years of frustration - and some pleasure - in trying to get a garden to develop in the harsh conditions which prevail in this area - very strong winds; wet, acid soil; salt-laden air....

So, below we mention some trees, shrubs and pernennials which seem to work well around here, and which the visitor is likely to see and may wonder about. So it's a mixture of advice, and also an incomplete guide for visitors interested in identifying the plants they see around them.

The first thing to note is that in most parts of the peninsula, the soil is acid and poorly-draining. This is either because the land is bogland, which is wet and acid naturally (and needs drainage ditches to be dug and maintained, in order to dry it out); or because much of the Peninsula is composed of low drumlins - deposits of soil and stones from glaciers as they drifted towards the sea, melting and carrying large deposits of such materials with them. These deposits got left behind in the form of low, rounded hills. The deposits themselves were mineral-rich, particularly in Iron - which, over the subsequent years, was leeched from the upper level and sank to form Ironpan clay (often referred to as "daub") - thick, blue-grey fine clay resembling potters' clay, and impervious to surface water. It's often very close to ground level, and it makes drainage very difficult, unless you go to the trouble and expense of laying ground-drainage pipes and leading the surface water into suitable ditches or drains or streams.

Around the peninsula, as well as the widespread beds of granite which formed in this region, you'll come across many other forms of rock, often Iron-rich; you'll identify these from the red-brown Iron Oxide smears on the rocks.

These conditions - high rainfall; wet ground; acid soils; poor drainage; strong winds; salt-laden air - makes it difficult for almost anything to grow, except for those plants which have evolved to thrive in such conditions.



One of the first things the visitor will notice in Connemara is the almost total absence of trees. Who could blame the trees? The conditions are especially harsh for plants which want to put on height!

The larger trees you will see include:

  • Pines (but only certain species - one of the commoner is Pinus contorta latifolia (the Lodgepole Pine, which does fairly well here)
  • Sycamore (though these are often burnt badly)
  • Horse Chestnut, in more sheltered spots such as near Cleggan Farm (though these also burn badly in strong winds in late Spring)

Spruces generally do badly, and if grown, generally burn and die except on the leeward side. The same is the case even for Thorn trees and for Rowans (Mountain Ash, for example, or Whitethorn); they are scarcely worth trying except in a very sheltered spot.

Smaller trees, useful both for wind-break, a form of hedging, and their own attractiveness, include:

  • Alder, especially the Common Alder (Alnus glutinosa), which thrive in both salty wind and in very wet soil
  • Salix (Willow), especially S. caprea (Goat Willow), S. viminalis (Common Osier, used for basket-making), and the decorative, coloured, straight-stemmed forms of willow. These also seem to do very well in very wet soil, and if cut back hard in Spring, the young shoots of the coloured willows are very decorative in Winter.

Few other trees thrive here.



Thankfully, there are many shrubs which survive the harsh conditions here, though few are native to Ireland. Below, we list some you'll commonly see, and include also others less common but which are pretty and hardy.