How to Make and Maintain a Bog Garden

Bog Plants at Crystal Springs Rhododendron Garden

There are a number of reasons why you might want to create a bog garden. If you have children and are worried about the depth of water in a pond, a bog garden is a good shallow alternative. If you have a redundant or leaking pond, you can easily turn this into a bog garden. And, if you have a naturally waterlogged area in your garden the answer may lie in making a wetland garden. You can also add a boggy area on to the edge of an existing pond. A bog garden will not only provide an opportunity to grow a different and attractive set of plants in your garden, it will also attract an abundance of wildlife. Here are a few tips on how to go about creating one and which plants to choose.

Making a bog garden

Bog gardens are best kept fairly small as they are easier to construct and maintain. But if you do want a larger area, remember to put in stepping stones or pathways to allow access for maintenance. You construct a bog garden in much the same way as making a pond but the hole needs to be much shallower. Mark out the area you want to excavate and then dig out the soil to a depth of about 18in. Line the hole with polythene or butyl liner, securing the edges with a line of stones or bricks. Lay a length of leaky hose pipe along the bottom of the hole and seal it up one end. The other end will need to come out of the hole so that the area can be irrigated. Cover the hose pipe with grit to stop it becoming blocked and then put all the excavated soil back into the hole. It might be an idea to add some well rotted leaf mould or compost at this point to provide a good growing medium. Your bog garden is now ready to plant up.

Wetland plants

If you do have a large area you really must plant Gunnera manicata, a giant of a plant with huge umbrella-like leaves and prickly stems. This architectural gem will need some protection in winter which you can do by covering the crown of the plant with its own dead leaves. Try Gunnera magellanica for a smaller variety. Primula pulverulenta is a lovely plant with flowers growing in tiers up tall stems in early summer. Geum rivale or water avens has delicate peach coloured flower heads during April and May. There are many varieties of Iris which make a lovely addition to the edge of a wetland area. Ligularia has multitudes of yellow daisy flower heads above green leaves. Rodgersia has attractive horse chesnut shaped leaves and cream/pink flowers in July/August. Trollius has lovely globe shaped cream flowers in May and June. If you run out of planting space or don’t want to overcrowd your plants, then try positioning a few garden planters around the area with appropriate plants such as Astilbe or Camassia.

Maintenance

There won’t usually be much to do in the way of maintenance. It is however important to make sure your bog garden doesn’t dry out, so a steady trickle of water provided by the leaky hose pipe is essential. You may need to remove leaf debris in autumn and replace any plants that may have died over winter.

Bog garden wildlife

By making a bog garden you won’t just create an attractive space in your garden, you will also attract an abundance of wildlife. Frogs, toads and newts will be perhaps the most obvious visitors. Insects that will love this type of garden include dragonflies and damselflies, bees and butterflies. You may even see a grass snake. They love damp areas and will feed on frogs and toads. Birds will also drink and bathe in the shallow waters.

A bog garden is a great addition to any garden, a place that will provide children with endless fascination, as well as the beautiful spectacle of a mature wetland space.

Source: Jo Poultney

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