Five months on: The bog garden

It’s been five months now since I made my bog garden and it’s filling in nicely so I thought I’d do an update so you can revel in my success and snigger at my failures and then pretend that you were coughing really.

So here it is (cat for scale):


I’m pretty pleased with how everything has settled in. The loosestrife looks awesome, the creeping jenny around the pond is providing good ground cover, and the water lily has put on a lot of growth (no flower this year though). The ragged robin is all growing well but no flowers yet.

I had a lot of slug issues with the Ligularia which took a real battering in April. So there was slug warfare until it started growing more quickly and now it’s doing OK. The flowers were fantastic but you’ll just have to take my word for that. It’s also being a bit crowded out by the Persicaria so my plan in the autumn is to move the Persicaria to the space in between the two ponds. It won’t be in the bog garden but I have heavy clay soil anyway so it will still be pretty damp. If it’s sad then I will just have to make more bog garden. My family will probably stage some sort of intervention.



How to make a bog garden, by someone who has probably cocked it up


It’ll look better in a couple of months, honest.

I have been planning a bog garden for sometime, having been ‘blessed’ with heavy, wet clay soil (my mum keeps reminding me about all the good points of clay but she’s not the one who has to dig it). Last year my back garden was a bit overrun with veg, but now I have the allotment I have plenty of room to extend my wildlife section with another pond and a bog garden. The area is a small border, but you don’t need a ton of space for a bog garden anyway. You could create one in an even smaller space than this if you wanted.


Digging is hard work, so get help if you can.

The first step is digging. Digger Jr looks like she’s helping but really she is just posing with a spade, the massive slacker. You’ll need to dig down about a foot and a half, which is 45 cm or knee high if you’re 5’4″. For a bog garden, you don’t need to worry about using a fleecy liner because you want holes in the liner anyway. Just remove any biggish or pointy stones and bung in the liner.


Stabbing things is fun. And legal if it’s pond liner.

Next comes the fun part! Stab some holes in the liner with a fork. The bog garden needs to be slow draining but not completely water tight, so some drainage is needed.


Looking forward to this not looking like a grave.

Next add a layer of gravel at the bottom to aid drainage. It’s hard to tell how thick it is in this photo- it’s about an inch.

The next step is to fill it all in. The soil will settle and the level will drop so it’s best to leave the planting for a couple of days.

So I finished my bog garden off with (and you’ll have to trust me on this because they’re only just waking up): Purple loosestrife, Ligularia, Persicaria (no idea which one…), cowslips and forget-me-nots. I’ll also be adding some ragged robin which I’m growing from seed and some bog bean in the pond margins. I’ll take a few more photos when it starts looking good. In fact, I’ve worked so hard that I’ll probably approach strangers in the street with photos yelling ‘LOOK AT MY BOG GARDEN.’ Someone look after my bog garden while I’m in jail.



I made a wildlife pond and I deserve an award or at the very least some alcohol


Cat shown for scale (cat is massive)

Last year this bed was where I grew my brussells sprouts. Since they’ve all been eaten (4 plants is a good amount for a family of 4 btw- you will run out of sprouts at about the same time you get really sick of them) I was able to get cracking on my plan for extending the pond/wildlife area.

I have built one and a half wildlife ponds before so I vaguely know what I’m doing. So, for your information here is how I did it. The Digger- cocking up gardening so you don’t have to.


Yes, that is solid clay.


Nope, never dries out.

These are the conditions I’m working with- heavy clay that never dries out. For years I’ve been trying to fix it but now that I have more space for veg up at the allotment, I can finally work with the conditions and put in another pond and a bog garden.


I found some sanity at the bottom of the hole. And a lot of bricks.

First things first, decide where you want your pond. If you want a natural wildlife pond it’s best to go for somewhere flat or at the bottom of a slope, and somewhere that gets some sun. This spot ticks the boxes and will get more sun that the other pond so hopefully the frogs will prefer it.

If you’re organised or picky then you can mark out the edge of your pond so that you can plan the shape beforehand. I was limited by the space available, so since I didn’t have much scope for choosing a size and shape I just dug.

It’s a good idea to have different depths in the pond. I needed a deep bit for a water lily that I impulse bought last summer and has been sitting in a bucket ever since, poor thing. But I also wanted a shallow bit for some native marginals.


An hour and a half later….

Make sure you check to see if your pond is level, otherwise you’ll end up with loads of liner showing on one side and it will haunt you forever.


Don’t worry, it’s meant to look like this.

You’ll need to put something between the pond liner and the ground to prevent it getting punctured by sharp rocks or some of the crap that the lazy arses that built your house left behind. Sand is OK for the flat parts but you’ll need fleecy stuff for the sides. I’ve used a mixture because I am cheap as hell and just used what I had lying around, but you can buy special stuff for the job.


Leave me alone, I know what I’m doing.

Don’t cut the liner yet! Lay it over the hole and start filling with water. This will help the liner form the shape of the pond. There will be creases, so try and flatten them out as best you can while the pond is filling.


Told you.

When it’s filled up, you can trim the edges of the liner- be cautious, you can always trim off more later on.


Nearly there….

You can weigh down the edges of the liner with rocks or you can dig a little trench and bury the edges with soil. I opted for the latter, firstly because it’s cheap and secondly because I want plants growing all the way up to the edge.



Done! Not a massive pond, but a worthy addition to my little wildlife corner.

Right, the sun is shining so I’m going to go and finish my bog garden. Stay tuned for updates!


Plants I am definitely going to grow in 2015

It’s a brand new year! And I’m starting to plan. I’m always making lists of plants I like, both on Pinterest and in my garden notebook (yes, on real paper; old-school).

Having the allotment means that I have a bit more space in my back garden now, even after I replace all the lawn that I dug up to make space for all the veg. I do need to put it back because the trampoline and swing set don’t leave much space for actual walking. But anyway, I am going to extend my shade garden and do a new border from scratch- yay! I get excited about this but the truth is that once everything is in, I will change my mind and want to start a new border somewhere else.

I am trying to narrow it down a bit, partly because of costs and partly because having one of everything will look rubbish (garden design 101), so here is a short list of some of the things I’m going to grow in 2015 (how exciting is 2015? Hoverboards and flying DeLoreans at the ready):


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Alstroemeria: These were a favourite of my Grannie who passed away earlier this year. She always had a vase on the windowsill, and she loved gardening, so growing my own for cutting seems like a good way to remember her. I’ve just redecorated my living room in red and white so I’ll probably go for this pure white one. I can’t wait to have a vase of homegrown (well, allotment grown because Alstroemeria is poisonous) flowers and of course I’ll take some to my Granddad as well.


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Salvia nemorosa ‘Caradonna’: This will look perfect in my pale pink/deep purple/lime green border that is going where my courgettes were last year. It won’t be a massive space because my garden isn’t that big, but I’m hoping that it will work well with some Alchemillas dotted in between.


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Iris ‘Magic Bubbles’: I have been reliably informed by my children, who are both rubbish at keeping secrets, that they have ordered me one of these as a present. I’ve been trying to get hold of one for ages, so I’m really pleased that they found one. This will go on my cat’s grave, because his name was Bubbles. He wasn’t magic though. He was pretty dim actually, but very cute.


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Roses: I think I might need more. In this post I bought 4 roses for my back garden, but I’m fairly sure I can squeeze a couple more into the front. I’ll probably take another trip to Harkness Roses and treat myself to a couple of these.


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Gaillardia × grandiflora ‘Burgunder’: Gaillardia is another of my Grannie’s favourites, she had some lovely ones in her garden that she grew from seed. I’m planning to grow some of these lovely red ones for cutting.


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Lychnis flos-cuculi: Otherwise known as Ragged Robin, this pretty little native will slot in perfectly to my not-very-big bog garden. Bee friendly, yay!

2014 was a bit of a weird one. I lost my Grannie, who I was very close to, and my favourite cat. I had a lot of problems with my mental health. And then at the end of the year, I found someone who can help me. So I’m going into 2015 feeling a lot more positive even though I now know there aren’t going to be any easy solutions. I’m ready for the challenges! Except digging over the allotment, I’m not looking forward to that at all.

Retail therapy part 2


A box of roses for Christmas.

Part one saw me impulse buy (under the evil influence of my mother and some large ‘SALE’ signs) some plants that I hadn’t really planned on getting. Shopping trip number two was more planned; I wanted some roses. I came into a little bit of inheritance after my beloved Grannie died in the Spring. She was a keen gardener and I thought what better way to remember her than to have a bit of a splurge. I had been looking online for  roses so I went to the Wyevale (are they taking over the world?) near my mum’s house that stocks Harkness roses. And they had a sale so I got some other stuff too. And my daughters wanted to choose a rose each. So the trolley was filled pretty fast and my money was well spent.

I’ve decided to redesign one of my borders that was full of veg this summer and is now empty. I’m going for a pale pink, dark purple, and lime green colour palette with roses as the headliner. So I chose these pale pink roses with a strong perfume, and the rest of the border will be stuff like Salvia, Aquilegias and Alchemilla mollis so quite cottagey and very pretty (I hope!).

The girls are being given their own little patch of garden next year and I have very bravely told them they can choose whatever they like. So they’ve started by choosing a rose each and I have to say, they have quite good taste. Digger Jr chose a lovely gold/apricot rose and Digger Jr Jr opted for this peach/apricot blend rose. I await the choosing of stripy petunias to complement their roses in the spring. I want to encourage a love of gardening, not just because I want them to stop moaning when I make them go to nurseries, but also because I think it’s a useful skill to have. But I do worry what exactly a 4 and 6 year old will choose to grow. More is more when you’re that age.


The Ligularia doesn’t look like much at the moment, I guess that’s why it was only £2. It isn’t dead, honest.

Anyway, I also got the Echinops bannaticus Blue Globe to go in my blue/orange/yellow borders in the front garden, and the Ligularia will go in my new bog garden. So there is room for everything, especially now that I have the lottie and won’t have to cram my back garden full of veg.

Retail therapy part 1


Self control? What’s that?

I’ve been getting better and better the last couple of weeks, so I decided it was time for a trip out to indulge in the time-honoured tradition of Buying Stuff I Don’t Need.

My local garden centre has recently changed hands and is now a Wyevale. Good garden centres can be hard to find- there are many near me that seem to sell nothing but plastic meerkats and pots (and what am I meant to put in them, hmmm?), but this garden centre has always had a good balance between plastic meerkats and plants that I actually want to buy.

Since all the Christmas stuff has been on display since the last day of the summer holidays (I shit you not), there has been a sale on ever since. Only now it’s bigger. But I wasn’t going to buy anything, oh no. I was going to plan and make a list and ERMAHGERD SALE.

I have legitimate reasons for each and every plant, I swear.


Shortly after this I mowed down a little old lady because I couldn’t see where I was going.

The Ceonothus and Delosperma are going in my front garden. There’s a tricky area around a drain cover that I’ve been trying to figure out for a while. The drain cover sticks up so the soil is shallow because of concrete underneath, and it’s a south facing slope. It gets absolutely baked in the summer so I need something pretty tough there. I didn’t want one of those drain covering planters because to me they just scream ‘THERE’S A DRAIN UNDER HERE, LOOK!’, so I hope I can cover it with plants.

The Buddleia is to replace the white one in the back garden that is currently too big for the space its in. I’ve tried keeping it in check but it’s got so big now that it’s starting to become a funny shape. The Buddleia I’ve bought is a patio variety called Buzz, which is so dinky that you can even grow it in a pot if you want. I love having Buddleia in the garden but the space is small, so this one is perfect.

And I got this Persicaria for my new bog garden, that is currently my brussels sprout patch (are you keeping up?). I wasn’t going to get anything for the bog garden until I’d actually dug it, but this was on sale and my mum said (and I quote) ‘this would be really good for your bog garden’. So I would like the world to know that my mother is a BAD INFLUENCE.

More shopping in part two.