Bog Gardens Explained!
True Bogs are a classified type of natural wetland; they collect natural rain water and are home to Sphagnum Moss which compresses over the years to form Peat which is often then farmed from the Bogs on a seasonal basis. Natural Peat bogs have no nutrients, therefore most of the plants that grow wild in them tend to be carnivorous, and include species of Pitcher plants, Sundews, Butterworts and Bladderworts.
Throughout the Water Garden and pond industry there is much confusement as to what actually is a bog garden, so I’m going to set the record straight! The reason I’m going to do this is I’m simply fed up with watching, listening and reading about the subject only full knowing that I am being fed totally miss-leading information, not just to me but everyone in the world! The problem is that what most people think of as bog garden plants are simply Perennials that like free draining soil. The traditional man made bog garden most commonly described, consists of a pond liner pierced with multiple fork holes and then back filled with 10 cm of manure and a further 20 cm of top soil, however the end result is a free draining moist perennial border, it’s hardly a bog at all! For this reason we have a category on our website called “Moisture Loving Perennials” and they will thrive in these manmade conditions, and will also tolerate a bit of seasonal flooding, But for permanently wet conditions see below.
Waterlogged, muddy, swampy and permanently wet areas
These areas occur naturally where streams, ditches and water courses enter and exit ponds, they also occur where there is no natural drainage and where there is clay, the water level in these areas can fluctuate from seasonal flooding in winter to dry in times of draught, however even in the height of summer if you were to dig down 20-30 cm these dried up areas tend to be saturated. These areas are widely described as bog garden areas, and more rightly so, but there are plenty of nutrients here and so conditions would be unsuitable for Carnivorous plants. These conditions would also be unsuitable for cultivars of Hosta, Astilbe, Iris Sibirica and dozens of other recommended bog garden plants, or should I say Moisture Loving Perennials? If you want to grow moist perennials plant those in your moist perennial borders as described in the paragraph above.
So what can we plant here? The answer is Marginal plants, after all the name Marginal means just that, shallow water that rises and drops in times of seasonal flooding and drought, marginals are designed for this and grows long roots that reach down deep to take up water during hot summer months. On my website www.lilieswatergardens.co.uk I have a main category called “marginal and bog garden pond plants” and in there is a sub-category called “bog garden plants” there you will find hundreds of suitable marginal plants to choose from, there are some marginal plants, where the clue for planting is in the common name, Menyanthes Trifloiata (bog-bean) Primula Candelabra (bog primulas) Calla Palustris (bog arum) and many others!