Bog gardens: plants for

For ground that is always damp, but not permanently waterlogged, bog plants are a good group of plants to consider. These can be planted as part of a specially built bog garden or, if you are lucky enough, in any position in the garden where these conditions are naturally present.

Introduction

Selecting plants for a bog garden presents many exciting options. Enjoy the opportunity to create contrasts with uprights foliage, bold broad leaved plants and filigree ferns. Add to this the variety of flower form and colour, and there can be interest throughout the growing season. Consider colourful stems of willow and dogwood for winter interest.

Practical considerations

When choosing, buying and planting bog garden plants, keep the following in mind;

  • Bog plants love wet soil but not swimming in water. Avoid areas where there is standing water or where the ground is flooded for long periods of time. If the ground has standing water that does not drain, pond marginals will be more suitable
  • Spring is the best time to choose plants and plant a bog garden
  • When choosing bog plants, check for the light requirements. Many large leaved plants will tolerate a certain amount of shade as well as full sun
  • Bog plants like a soil rich in organic matter, so fallen leaves will add to the nutrient levels and structure of the soil
  • Plant directly into soil of a bog garden

Books

Water Garden Plants by Greg Speichert & Sue Speichert (Timber Press 2008, ISBN 9780881928464).

Managing the Wet Garden by John Simmons (Timber Press 2008, ISBN 9780881929003).

These books are also made available through the RHS Lindley Library

Suitable Plants

Herbaceous perennials

Aruncus dioicus AGM: 2m x 1m (6½ft x 3¼ft)
Astilbe chinensis var. taquetii 'Superba' AGM: 1.2m x 50cm (4ft x 20in)
Darmera peltata AGM: 1.5m x 1m (5ft x 3¼ft)
Euphorbia palustris AGM: 90cm x 1m (3ft x 3¼ft)
Eupatorium maculatum Atropurpureum Group AGM: 2m x 1m (6½ft x 3¼ft)
Geum rivale 'Leonard's Variety': 45cm x 50cm (18in x 20in)
Gunnera magellanica: 15cm x 30cm (6in x 1ft)
Gunnera manicata AGM: 2.5m x 4m (8ft x 13ft)
Hosta: variable heights and spread
Iris ensata 'Rose Queen' AGM: 1m x 50cm (3¼ft x 20in)
Iris laevigata AGM: 70cm x 50cm (28in x 20in)
Iris pseudacorus AGM: 1.5m x 1.5m (5ft x 5ft)
Iris × robusta 'Gerald Darby' AGM: 1.2m x 50cm (4ft x 20in)
Iris sibirica 'Silver Edge' AGM: 1m x 50cm (3¼ft x 20in)
Ligularia dentata 'Desdemona' AGM: 1m x 1m (3¼ft x 3¼ft)
Ligularia 'Gregynog Gold' AGM: 1.8m x 1m (6ft x 3¼ft)
Ligularia 'The Rocket' AGM: 1.8m x 1m (6ft x 3¼ft)
Lobelia cardinalis AGM: 90cm x 50cm (3ft x 20in)
Myosotis scorpioides: 30cm x 50cm (1ft x 20in)
Persicaria amplexicaulis 'Firetail': 1.2m x 1m (4ft x 3¼ft)
Primula florindae (Si) AGM: 1.2m x 1m (4ft x 3¼ft)
Primula japonica 'Miller's Crimson' AGM: 50 x50cm (20in x 20in)
Rheum palmatum 'Atrosanguineum' AGM: 2.5m x 1.5m 
Rodgersia aesculifolia AGM: 1.5m x1m (5ft x 3¼ft)
Rodgersia pinnata 'Superba' AGM: 1.5m x1m (5ft x 3¼ft)
Trollius × cultorum 'Superbus' AGM: 60cm x 50cm (2ft x 20in)

Grasses

Acorus gramineus 'Variegatus': 30cm x 50cm (1ft x 20in)
Carex elata 'Aurea' AGM: 70cm x 50cm (28in x 20in)
Juncus effusus f. spiralis: 50cm x 50cm (20in x 20in)
Spartina pectinata 'Aureomarginata': 1.5m x 1m (5ft x 3¼ft)

Ferns

Athyrium filix-femina AGM: 80cm x 1m (32in x 3¼ft)
Matteuccia struthiopteris AGM: 1.5m x 2.5m (5ft x 8ft)
Osmunda regalis AGM: 2.5m x 1m (8ft x 3¼ft)

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