A Bog Garden Story from Wayside Gardens

Posted By on Feb 2, 2007 | 0 comments

Good Research Makes a Happy Gardener

While probing for ideas that might add a little intrigue to the pitifully uninspiring flora of my backyard, I was told by a fellow Wayside Gardens employee to check out bog gardens. My first thought was of a marsh or swamp, something more appropriate for a wildlife preserve or ghost story than my simple little yard. However, trusting my source, I dove, head-first into that murky swamp of information, the all-knowing internet. Using my favorite search engine, I typed in the obvious “bog gardens” and amassed a king’s feast of information that was all completely useless.

While wading through the many explanations of what a bog garden might be and the varied items that I should purchase to enhance my garden, I realized the one thing I always try to tell myself before starting any home-improvement project: Always start your research with reliable academic resources, and work your way up to the commercial resources. That is one thing I have learned while working at Wayside Gardens. By the time you get there, you should know what it is you need to buy. I had not even thought to ask myself if I even knew what a bog was much, less how to plant anything in one. So, I did my research.

Apparently, if you have a low spot in your yard that never completely dries and you plant some elephant ears there, you have not created a bog garden as some of the sources I found would lead you to believe. It is a clever way to turn a problem into an asset, but not a bog garden. A bog is actually a type of wetland formed from a deposit of dead plant matter, most commonly some type of moss or lichen. Its moisture comes almost completely from precipitation and tends to be slightly acidic. An exotic environment for exotic plants- It’s exactly what I was looking for.

I also found that recreating this environment on the small scale is not very difficult; some people even create indoor bog gardens in terrariums, which would be a perfect way to display those bog-loving carnivorous plants and make an excellent conversation piece. I just needed a place that will hold moisture and that I could fill with peat. I had the perfect place, that gross little pond insert that I installed two seasons ago, or as I like to call it, my “mosquito nursery”. I just cleaned that out and poked a few holes in the bottom for drainage- lined the bottom with coarse sand and filled it with moistened peat. The moss maintains the acidity and I use a soaker hose to keep my bog damp. I planted an Iris “Holden’s Child, this very interesting Juncus effusus Unicorn, and two Pine Hibiscuses. Some of these plants could even be purchased right here at Wayside Gardens. Situated in the center of my garden, accented with two lawn gnomes and a pink flamingo, my bog has definitely added spice to my back yard.

John Durst
Wayside Gardens Voice


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