Bog Plants for the Garden Pond
Stretches of vast open water areas are frequently surrounded by wetlands, which are areas ofwhich remains constantly moist, and where the water table is only just beneath the water’s surface. Some plants have adapted their original root system in order to manage this high moisture level. Many so called ‘bog plants’ have brightly coloured flowers and extraordinary leaf shapes and so they make fine subjects for planting close to a garden pond. Try growing some from the following selection.
Monkshood; Wolf’s Bane
Of this large family of plants, two are recommended: A. carmichaeliiirom Central China, 1.8m (6ft) tall with dark green foliage and blue flowers, and A. napellusirom Europe and Asia, up to 1.2m (4ft) high with deeply cut leaves and violet-blue flowers. Increase by root division or by seed. Beware: all parts of the plant are poisonous.
False Goat’s Beard
A large group of plants from Europe and Asia. The most suitable ones are the A. arendsii hybrids, which bear white, pink, red and crimson blooms. The foliage is mid to deep green and deeply divided. The superb flowerheads are feathery and made up of tiny flowers. They appear throughout the summer months. Most of these plants will grow 60-90cm (2-3ft) high. Propagate astilbes by dividing the clumps in spring.
A North American bulbous plant with sword-like leaves and spikes of purple, blue, white and cream flowers in early summer. A double variety is available. The plant grows to 90cm (3ft) tall and can be increased by division of the bulbs or by seed.
Arctic Spring Beauty
A group of small plants from North America and Asia with fleshy rootstocks, smooth leaves and white or pink flowers in spring. C. arctica, C. sibiricaand C. virginicaaW grow up to 15cm (6in) tall and thrive in peaty bog conditions. Increase by seed.
A large family from the Northern Hemisphere comprising shrubby andwith varying leaves and large heads of daisy-like flowers in white, pink and purple from midsummer until early autumn. Usually growing up to 1.2m (4ft) tall some, such as E. cannabinum, can reach 1.8m (6ft) in a rich and moist soil. Cut the stems almost to ground level after flowering and increase by dividing the rootstock.
From Europe, Asia and North America, these plants are like, to which they are closely related. They have long green leaves in a variety of shapes, mainly lobed, and large heads of small white, pink or red flowers. Some varieties can reach 2.4m (8ft) tall, but most grow to 90cm (3ft). Increase by root division.
A striking Brazilian plant that looks like a giant. The leaves can reach 3m (1 Oft) long by 2.4m (8ft) wide and the flowers are like long circular brushes 1 m (3.3ft) tall. Frost will cut the foliage back, but if the crown is covered with a layer of leaves or bracken it will survive the winter. The plant can reach 4.5m (15ft) high and 6m (20ft) wide, making it suitable only for the larger garden. Divide plants.
Swamp Pink; Stud Flower
A North American plant with shiny leaves clustered in rosettes and spikes of pink flowers in spring. It grows up to 45cm (18in) tall and has a tuberous rooted system that can be divided for increasing stock.
Two Japanese spring-flowering plants, H. breviscarpa with white flowers and H. japonica with pink blooms, are recommended. Both have spear-shaped leaves and should reach 30cm (12in) tall in a good moist soil. H. breviscarpa sometimes increases by producing small plants on its leaf ends; otherwise divide the rootstock.
The best of this group of plants come from China. They have sword-like leaves and many hybrids are available to provide a wide range of midsummer colour. They will reach 60-107cm (2-3.5ft) tall and can be increased by root division in spring.
Most hostas originate in Japan and are grown for their fine decorative foliage and their ability to thrive in shade. The leaves are veined and are available in blue, yellow, green and variegations. The flower spikes, white or mauve in colour, appear in early summer. Plants grow to 75cm (30in) in height. Increase by division in the spring. Guard against slug damage.
A large group of plants containing some species that thrive in moist conditions. Most come from China and have sword-like leaves and fine iris blooms, some heavily marked and veined. Recommended are: Ins bulleyana, I. chrysographes, I. Forestii, I. Kaempferi, I. Laevigata, I. Sibirica and I. wilsonii. I. Kaempferi needs to be kept dry during the winter months. Normally increased by division.
Mainly of Chinese and Japanese origin, most ligularias have heart-shaped leaves and spikes of yellow and orange daisy-like flowers in summer. They can thrive in a deep moist soil and can reach 1.5m (5ft) tall. Increase by division in spring.
A few of the American members of this family will thrive by the pond: L cardinalis, with oblong leaves and spikes of red flowers; L. fulgensanti its hybrids, with purple and red foliage; and L syphilitica, with blue or white flowers. All grow up to 90cm (3ft) tall and can be increased by root division during the spring.
Two spring-flowering plants, L. americanumtrom America, with large yellow flowers and pointed green leaves, and L camschatenseirom Japan, with white flowers like the Arum Lily can be recommended. They are easily grown in either shallow water or wet soil, in sun or partial shade. Up to 90cm (3ft) tall and easily raised from seed.
Most of the moisture-loving primulas come from Eastern Asia and have a variety of forms; the flowers can be single or in umbels of up to 50 blooms in a variety of colours. Some will reach up to 90cm (3ft) tall while others will only make 15cm (16in) in height. They can be grown from seed or division.