Allotment Articles 2.
Creating A Bog
Whether or not you have a fishpond you might like to create a bog garden. It gives you the opportunity to grow many plants well, that you might struggle to grow in your ordinary garden, or indeed grow others that just won’t grow in normal garden conditions at all. Perhaps a bog garden is a misnomer as a true bog is a peat filled area covered in sphagnum moss, with acid water lying on the surface in parts and few plants other than sundews, butterworts and some course grasses. A better name to call it would be a marsh garden.
To create a marsh garden you need to dig out the soil in the designated area to a depth of about 12inches, or 30 cm. Then you need some sort of liner to retain the water. This can be a proper pool liner that need not be an expensive one, or it can even be a sheet of strong polythene. The liner needs to have some holes in it to allow excess water to seep away slowly. It will then keep the soil very wet in all but the hottest months.
To enable easy watering in very hot dry months when the plants would suffer, a length of hose pipe with holes in it, or some proper seep hose should be placed in the bottom before the soil is put back. When the plants start to wilt it is then a simple matter to connect it up to the tap and water the Marsh garden from below soil level and thus prevent spoiling the effect by constant spraying. As the soil is put back the edge of the liner can be buried. In fact an inch or two of soil over the top of the edge is a good idea because that will also help to prevent the plants from becoming too waterlogged.
For a marsh garden to be really successful it needs to have some patches that are a little dryer and others that are wetter to accommodate the different types of plants and simulate their ideal growing conditions. If you are installing a fishpond at the same time simply allow for the extra width when buying the liner and make it all in one. In this case the soil should be mounded up in the marsh garden area and held back from seeping into the pool by a small wall. This will enable you to plant in the normal soil but allow the roots of the plants to go down into the very wet soil on top of the liner.
There are several plants that are often grown in gardens that will do very well in the dryer parts of the marsh garden. Ferns are of course one that usually require very damp conditions and have attractive foliage. Hostas are another plant that will grow very well in damp soil that have very large decorative leaves and white flowers. Houttynias will make a splendid show of variegated foliage and Astillbes will also grow in the same conditions. These have very colourful plumes of red, white or pink flowers. Primula Denticulata and Polyanths will also add colour and appreciate damp soil.
Many of the so called marginal plants normally grown in fish ponds will also grow very well just in wet conditions rather than actually in water. Marsh marigolds are perhaps the most obvious ones with their yellow, or white flowers. They are the first marginal plant to flower in the spring. Lysichitum, or skunk lily which smells badly but has very large attractive flowers of either yellow, or white is a somewhat taller plant that will also grow in marshy conditions.
Lysimachia Nummularia, or creeping jenny is an ideal plant for all wet conditions and spreads very quickly with its yellow flowers.
Two native plants that grow in wet conditions are Mysotis Pallustris, or water forget me not and Veronica Beccabunga, or brook lime. Both have small blue flowers and grow very wall in ideal conditions. Mint is sometimes avoided in the garden because of its rampant habit, but in an enclosed area, water mint, or Mentha Aquatica maybe grown a little more safely. It is a slightly different flavour to the garden variety and can be used in the kitchen just the same. Another common plant is Glyceria which is a variegated grass. Normally it is green and white, but in winter it turns to red and green giving a little bit of colour in the colder months.