Goodbye Bog Garden

The better side of the Bog Garden - still not that great
The better side of the Bog Garden – still not that great

I had a lie in last Sunday morning, an unusual event recently but well overdue.  The only problem is that it meant my mind was wandering around (I had been woken by my mad cat demanding to be let out at 6am so was wide awake!).  I started thinking about Bog Garden which really isn’t very boggy and is one of those parts of the garden that I walk past averting my eyes.

The bog garden was originally created to solve the problem of the pond which itself was created in the large hole left by a very large inherited conifer.  The pond was alright to start with but people always under-estimate how much work is involved in maintaining a pond and I do believe  that in order to have a good and healthy wildlife pond you need one of a good size not the small one I had.  So the pond was filled in, with the liner punctured first to improve drainage.  The idea was that this would provide the ideal conditions for my Ligularia and other plants which had been around the pond.

The bog garden from the shady end - in need of work
The bog garden from the shady end – in need of work

It turns out that this was not the case.  I suspect I was over enthusiastic in puncturing the liner since the bog garden has never been that boggy.  The Ligularia in particularly looks great in spring until the slugs attack but it soon declines and is obviously suffering from a lack of moisture, this was even the case last year when it was very wet.  I have decided to take the approach I took with the Cottage border and to remove everything apart from the shrubs.  Some plants I will discard, such as the Ligularia and Rodgersia, and other I will pot up until I can decide where they will go.

I need to have a more cohesive approach to the border and this, as well as the lack of moisture, has caused a real headache.  I have until now treated the border as two  separate borders, an approach that was destined to fail.  On the far side is the bog garden and on the side nearest the house is a drier area with a large Prunus incisa ‘kojo-no-mai’.  I have some Phlox and Monarda in this area but they look a little lost so they will be lifted and probably incorporated into the Big Border.  The whole border is very shady with only the far corner nearest the shed in any sort of sun.  So I have decided that this is going to become an extension of the ‘woodland/shade border’.  I think the planting will be predominantly ferns, hostas, primulas and maybe meconopsis if I can get them established but I need to do some research to find the right varieties for the deeper shade and for the drier areas.

Woodland slope - also in need of an overhaul
Woodland slope – also in need of an overhaul

Then there is the slope behind this bed.  It is quite a small slope behind the bed but gets higher the nearer the shed you go.  At the shed end I have my asters which need sorting out.  They were bunched up here when the shed project started but now I can see which one is what I can reorganise for a better effect.  The lower bit of the slope is much shadier and I want to clear this and use it for more of my woodland bulbs and smaller plants.  As this is one of my areas of growing interest making extra space for these plants is a real boon and makes me very happy.

It has taken me a while but I have finally realised that I can’t have everything and anything that I take a fancy to.  Not only do I not have the space but also I don’t have the right conditions for everything.  Therefore, I am focussing on my real passions and not whims and amazingly, instead  of feeling like I am being denied something, I feel liberated and able to really focus on my burgeoning passions. And I love a project to get my teeth into!

16 Comments Add yours

  1. Hurrah for feeling liberated. You sound very focused and excited, particularly about your woodland bulbs etc, which in turn has me excited about what you will do with that space. I really admire the way you are giving your whole garden a long, hard look, it’s infectious and reminds me to at least try to maintain my own focus when it comes to my front garden. It is so terribly easy to fall in love with a plant or even a plant combination and persuade yourself that you can fit it in somewhere. There seems to be a weird sort of liberation that comes with being a tad more disciplined. You may be losing a bog garden but you seem to be gaining coherence and more space for things you love most. Excellet use of a lie-in!

  2. fairegarden says:

    Way to make the best of your situation, Helen, good work and good ideas. When confronted with the reality of the bog-less spot, you have made the right decision. Onward!

  3. Kylee Baumle says:

    It’s hard to come to the acceptance that you can’t always have or do what you really want to do in your garden, isn’t it? I fight with myself over this ALL the time. It’s kind of silly, I supposed, because there’s so much we CAN do, without trying to grow things that require more work than a garden should, just because we like them. Good for you, for making good decisions!

  4. rusty duck says:

    This sounds great Helen. Look forward to seeing what you do. Over half of my garden is in shade. You are so right about choosing appropriate varieties. The first year I enthusiastically planted out quite a few ‘shade lovers’ only for most of them to expire. There is shade.. and then there is deep shade!

  5. Pauline says:

    We have such a lot of shade here and it was a steep learning curve when we first moved here. I also found that we have a natural bog formed by an underground stream, I wondered why all the shrubs that the previous people had planted in that area were dying, it was far too wet for them! Once I planted boggy plants, everything was fine.We all have to go with the conditions that we have, our last garden was on sand in the NW, here it is heavy clay, totally different conditions. Planning new plantings is my favourite part of gardening, you are going to have a wonderful time!

    1. Helen Johnstone says:

      Hi Pauline
      I agree, I really like shady/woodland plants there are so many to choose from and I had been running out of space in my other woodland area

  6. Alison says:

    What a bummer that your plan to turn your old pond into a boggy area didn’t work out, but you’re right, it’s best to just face the music. I’ve had similar problems here in the PNW with Ligularia and slugs, they just love them. I understand that liberated feeling.

    1. Helen Johnstone says:

      Hi Alison
      I have been making excuses for the Ligularia for years but it is time for it to go 🙂

  7. Ricki Grady says:

    I like how you think: seeing opportunity rather than failure when you look at an area that isn’t working out. Onward and upward!

    1. Helen Johnstone says:

      Hi Ricky
      Just all me Pollyanna!

  8. As I am only just realising a happy plant is an attractive plant. I’ve many plants that I would turn my nose up at but since realising they are ideal for certain spots I’m learning to love them. Good luck in your research and I’m sure you’ll have plenty of fun deciding what to grow.

    1. Helen Johnstone says:

      hi Angie
      it comes down to the right plant right place doesn’t it. A well grown healthy plant looks so much better than one that is struggling

  9. Anna says:

    How exciting Helen – more space for all those shady characters that you love which should flourish in the conditions that you can offer them.

  10. Cathy says:

    You are reaching some sensible decisions, Helen, and I am sure you won’t regret these changes ((or the ligularia!) 🙂

  11. Diana Studer says:

    I tried to grow fynbos, proteas and such. But only one Erica has survived. And that one grows IN the path. Now there is a blue border, and a pink border – both using the plants that DO grow happily in my sunny garden.

  12. bittster says:

    Sounds like the whole garden is getting a redo! It’s hard to recognize when certain parts of the garden bore you, much easier to walk on by and just not make the connection as the years go by (I’ve been there!)…. then one day you have your nose full of it, rip most everything out, and wish you would have done it years ago! Unfortunately in the haste to plunk in all those new treasures, my current mishmash of a garden has way too many of those uninspiring parts to it….. I’m afraid I lack structure and wish I had the shrubs you are working with.

Please feel free to leave comments as its always lovely to get feedback. I try to respond to comments as much as possible but sometimes life and work get in the way but I will do my best to respond especially if your comment is a question.

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