Shade Perennials

A Bog Garden Story

A Bog Garden Story

Posted on Feb 2, 2007 | 0 comments

While probing for ideas that might add a little intrigue to the pitifully uninspiring flora of my backyard, I was told by a friend 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.

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, this very interesting Juncus Effusus Unicorn, and two Pine Hibiscuses. 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.

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Ferns Rule the Shade

Posted on Feb 14, 0215 | 0 comments

Athyrium 'Okanum'
Earlier this month, a friend asked me to help her design a few plantings along a pathway through a wooded part of her land here in Greenwood.  Wooded areas are often difficult to plant in, as you need low-maintenance, deer-resistant, full-shade plants.  Hopefully she’ll be pleased when I show up in a few weekends with a truck-bed full of medium-sized stones and a mix of unique ferns, including Japanese painted ferns and my favorite fern, the Athyrium ‘Okanum.’

As most gardeners well know, not many plants do well in full shade.  Ferns are a great exception to this, though, and as shade gardening is becoming more and more popular with each passing season, ferns are gaining in popularity by leaps and bounds.  Part of the appeal of hardy ferns is the simple fact that they do so well in shade, but another huge point in their favor is the amazing diversity they present.  There is a fern for almost any shade area in your garden, from drought-resistant ferns to some moisture-loving examples that will thrive in constantly damp areas that will destroy almost any other plant.  They range broadly in color from the traditional green to the stunning Japanese painted ferns, which can be red, purple, silver, green, or any combination thereof.

Athyrium Silver Falls
Hardy ferns are also a great choice because they’re so easy to care for.  If you are careful to consider soil type when choosing your ferns, often they’ll do just fine with very little work out of you, which is great for those difficult-to-fill border plantings, or even for planting areas along pathways through wooded areas.  Most ferns are also deer-resistant, so that won’t be a problem in planting areas that get less traffic, like my friend’s pathway, though I hope that, once I’ve planted those beds, it will get a lot more visits this year.

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