Building a Bog Garden

When building a pond, we generally have a good idea as to how we want it to look when completed. Our pond size will determine how many fish can be stocked and the pond’s shape and design will be a guide as to how it should be planted. Deepwater plants such as lilies, water Hawthorn and oxygenators such as Elodea and Hornwort are relatively straightforward to plant, difficulties however, can arise when planting marginals. These are the plants that prefer their feet to be wet, but their flowers and foliage to be proudly displayed above the water. There can be a tendency for us when planning a pond to include marginal shelf, but only one that is 9” wide (More water for the fish) and we can fall into a trap of lining our plants in a tight, regimented row along the narrow ledge that we have left ourselves. Hardly appropriate or in keeping with the overall informal shape and design of our pond. Unsightly baskets too, if we are not careful, can soon protrude, proud of the water, again spoiling the appearance of our ‘natural’ pond.

There is another way however, of preventing our marginal plants from appearing as though they are in a military procession, head to toe on a shelf, and that is by planting them in a bog garden. Because of the flexibility required in design and installation – particularly incorporating a gently shelving beach area, you are better of using a flexible pond liner as opposed to a rigid preformed pond.

A bog garden is a dedicated area where many of the plants that are regarded as ‘marginals’ can be planted in 3 dimensions, giving natural, broad swathes of lush planting.

There are many benefits to be gained from creating a bog garden.

a. Ideal for encouraging wildlife. A bog garden presents a damp and moist haven for many different types of wildlife. Amphibia such as newts, frogs and toads adore bog gardens as they compliment their lifestyles. These moist-skinned visitors cannot afford to stray too far from their life-saving water yet enjoy a life out of water. What better place for them to ‘hang out’ than in your bog garden? A bog garden will warm up quicker than a pond giving these cold blooded tenants conditions they will not want to leave. They will also find comfort from the cover afforded by the lush green undergrowth and use your semi-aquatic garden as a safe place in which hibernate.

b. A bog garden presents you with a bonanza planting opportunity. Firstly, by electing to create a bog garden, many more plant varieties present themselves as available for your selection. Bog plants provide a range of different foliages in shape and colour not available in marginal plants and because their roots are warmer than their truly aquatic counterparts, they can provide earlier colour and growth prior to the pond plants coming to life.

A bog garden offers great planting versatility compared to a narrow planted marginal shelf in a garden pond. Through careful plant selection and construction of the bog area, it is possible to conceal the join between the pond and the garden. A bog garden should be regarded as a marshy no-man’s-land that allows the pond to blend in with the established plants in the truly terrestrial planted borders. This creeping colonisation of a bog garden is further encouraged by not having to plant specimens in mesh baskets or containers. Where these may have curtailed a plant’s aspirations to spread in a pond, plants in a bog garden are given a free-range lifestyle, colonising and spreading through your moist organic paradise in the way that nature encourages.

c. Finally, a bog garden allows you to break one of the rules of keeping koi, and that is designing a pond that incorporates plants. As koi are notoriously inquisitive fish, any plant (especially if offered in a basket of soft aquatic soil) will be investigated, sampled, and usually up-rooted. By adding a bog area around parts of the pond’s perimeter, aquatic planting is made possible while keeping them out of temptation’s way.

Kill blanketweed and string algae.