A Guide to Pond Plants
Having created our pond, lake, stream or bog-garden, the next step is the planting, and the most exciting part is that no two water gardens need to ever look the same; you can create something stunning, beautiful and unique. I have written this article to guide you and boost your own confidence that we all have the capability to be creative, and that water-gardening is not a hobby only for green fingered experts, but also for the in-experienced novice.
I have listed eight basic categories of water plants, when I say water-plants I mean anything from totally submerged to moist perennials, depending on your design you may only want to include plants from one or two categories or if you are adventurous and creating your very own Wisely Gardens you may wish to incorporate plants from every category.
- Alpines and rockery plants
- British wild aquatic and bog-garden plants
- Free-floating plants
- Marginal and bog-garden plants
- Moisture-loving perennial plants
- Oxygenating, deep-water and submerged plants
- Water lilies
Personally I find it a impossible task to plan on paper (pond planting schemes) a design of planting, I find I can only achieve this when the plants I have purchased or using from my nursery are stood out in front of me, trying to work from planting schemes is far more difficult and less fun than choosing the right plants from the collection you have just purchased. I have listed below the seven most important factors when placing plants in their desired place.
- Flowering Times
- Position (sun or shade )
- Complementary ( toning )
- Ground cover
- Formal, informal or wild
You will need to consider the position before you purchase your plants; you won’t have a healthy happy garden if you buy plants for semi or full shade and your water-garden is in full sun.
If you are planting a large pond, stream or lake you will want taller plants as a backdrop and a mixture of short, medium, and few large growing varieties in the foreground, if you are planting a small back garden pond, you will be better sticking to small and medium sized plants.
Color, flowering times and complementary ( toning )
Choose a color scheme that suits you, it’s all down to individual taste, personally I like yellow, blue and white, it’s all about colors that complement each other, another one of my favorites is a mixture of pastel colors planted with dark-reds, if your favorite color is orange, you may want to plant among-st some brown or olive-green rushes, we are not just talking about flowering plants but incorporating a mixture of rushes, sedges, grasses and other foliage plants to compliment and soften edges.
Try to compliment plants to give different tones and textures, place all your plants before you actually plant anything, you will soon see if a plant for example with broad-leaves looks out of place next to a plant with narrow leaves, another thing to remember is orange and red flowers always seem to clash,
And lastly choose plants that flower at different times throughout the year, Caltha’s look fantastic in the spring and schizostylis will brighten up your bog-garden or moist border in the autumn, let your imagination run away and get creative.
Ground Cover Plants
A very important collection of plants that can be used to soften edges and tone in different areas of the water garden, ground cover plants form dense carpets of leaves and flowers and some of the smaller carpet-spreading varieties will mold their way around contours and rocks and grow across excess pond liners right down to the water’s edge, creating a very natural look and exit for amphibians and other wildlife.
Formal, informal or wild
Formal can look great, imagine a square pond surrounded by paving with four large clumps of water iris planted in each corner; personally I would mix up the iris colors to give four dense clumps of pastel colors. If you are planting informal or wild try and plant in odd numbers, there is also no reason why you can’t have the same variety of plant in two or three places in your pond, but don’t plant opposite and if you have for example planted seven pots one side plant 3 or even just one on the other side.
On the wild side I would recommend you only use clump-forming or slow-growing native pond plants for small wild ponds, invasive plants should only be planted where they can be invasive without causing harm to ecosystems or natural habitat.
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