One nice thing about gardening is that plants are usually so forgiving.
~Edward C. Smith
The picture above is what you will see if you go outside the fence and look into the corner of the Bog Garden in early autumn. It is almost an extenuation of the meadow; pretty wild. But right now it does not look like this. It is in its dormant stage; brown, faded, cut back and covered in snow. Still wild and pretty though like this seedhead of Joe Pye found throughout this garden area.
This post is a continuation of the review of the backyard left corner garden or what I call, The Bog Garden. I showed this garden through the seasons in my Garden Journal post a couple of weeks ago. And I thought it would be nice to see it up close, although there isn’t much to see out there right now.
We had a thaw right around the New Year so it was easy to see this area in all its wet glory, although it wasn’t nearly as flooded as it can get. The pictures look like they were taken in the morning, but actually it was around 1pm when the sun shines barely over the trees and through the space between our house and our neighbor’s. It is bright and glaring, yet still golden with long shadows; a unique winter light.
I am using the Stuck Foot method to review this area in depth. What is the Stuck Foot method/post? Lucy@Loose and Leafy created this idea, and as Lucy says:
A stuck foot post is where you plant your foot firmly in a roughly random place and see what you can see without moving. Best is when you plant both feet but sometimes, as in this post, where you are on a slope or some other kind of difficult ground you may need to move the other around for the sake of balance. But you mustn’t move the ‘stuck’ foot. You can bend your body this way and that. You can lean forward and twist at the waist – but you mustn’t swivel that stuck-foot.
So here we go……..
As we exit from the back of the house and descend the steps (top left), we can see the left corner of the garden bathed in bright sunlight (bottom left). Turning left, we move from the brick patio to the grass path (top right) and continue around the patio garden and to the left of the arch (bottom right). We are headed to the those tree stumps in the center picture.
And here we are facing the Bog Garden. Can you see my shadow taking the picture? I am surrounded by water that floods this area of the garden, but there is a small area where I can stand in the middle of the Bog Garden between the stumps. So let’s go there.
And this is where we were just standing beside that puddle. Can you see my boot prints in the muddy lawn. The lawn is resilient and will recover. And you can see the horseshoe-shaped rain garden to the right. It should help with all this flooding, but it doesn’t.
So why is there a big puddle here? Well when the lawn was put in, the area was not graded properly so the water pools here. We need to raise the left side of the area so the water drains to the Bog Garden and into the rain garden.
The land was originally graded so everything drained to this corner where there was a gully that ran along the fence line and back to the main drainage gully behind the meadow. When I planned the garden, I didn’t want a gully with a huge open area running under the fence so we filled it in….yikes was that a mistake.
And to make matters worse, when we filled in the area, we put sand on top of the clay and then added compost on top of that. Anyone who has added sand to clay will tell you that it actually makes the clay area worse and creates a wet area that actually doesn’t drain; in essence a bog.
This is the rain garden we created to help with the drainage, but the water overflows right into the Bog Garden in the foreground.
The area here is pretty scraggly. It has lots of Joe Pye, goldenrod or Solidago, daylilies, Rudbeckias and ferns. The tree that sits on the edge of the rain garden is a native bald cypress or Taxodium distichum. It loses its needles every fall, and it loves wet areas. Perfect here, but being bullied by goldenrod and Joe Pye.
As you can see in this mucky mess, there are also iris; some native Iris versicolor, and some Japanese iris. There is also an unnamed evergreen that has not grown much in this wet clay. I think it needs to be rescued too.
If we move a little further right we see some of the shrubs. This is an American Cranberry bush or Viburnum trilobum which loves the wet muck. Unfortunately, it is swallowed whole by the rudbeckias and Joe Pye not giving it much of a chance to really grow.
As we move toward the corner, we can see the base of ‘William Baffin’ rose, an ornamental grass, I still need to identify, and a rose obelisk. Yes I have a climbing rose in this area, but it is drier where it is located. And yes those are daffodils peaking through at the end of December into January. They will still be there once the snow melts again ready to grow. The daffs do not mind being wet, and have not rotted yet as they continue to naturalize here.
Here’s the same view but I am looking up seeing rose hips and the swamp rose (bottom right), I forgot I planted here.
There are also some hydrangeas back here though they don’t flower except for the one pictured here. The tag was still with it. I had no recollection I planted a ‘Limelight’ hydrangea along the fence in this area.
These are the seedheads left by the hardy hibiscus against the fence in this corner. They look so interesting that I might put them in a vase this winter.
As my feet are sandwiched between two white ash stumps, let’s move ourselves clockwise to the drier side of this garden area. This stump has been giving insects shelter (see the holes) for a few years now. There’s a huge clump of daffs that have naturalized here too. And if I focus my camera over the fence, you can see the meadow and one of the compost piles.
As I turn now to look behind me, we can see another climbing rose against the pergola. The gate to the meadow is right under the pergola. The area around the stumps was a hosta garden when there were three ash trees here. The hostas are still here, but they get covered up by Rudbeckias and goldenrod as well as some weeds. There are smaller grasses growing here as well as a small bayberry bush that I uncovered this past fall. I was so surprised to see it had survived and grown so much…it’s the twig in the photo bottom right. The new leaves growing in the center are Rudbeckia laciniata ‘Autumn Sun’. Also growing here are lots of smaller bulbs including dwarf iris and snowdrops.
As I look up and out from where I am standing, we can see the gazebo and White Garden and veg garden area. Keep turning and now you can see the Center Garden, the back of the house and the back end of the birdhouse.
So what do we plan to do to alleviate the flooding? We will be digging down to the original gully. We’ll start at the rain garden and open the end of it extending the rain garden back to the fence. You can see the water naturally flows in that direction already. We’ll line the new rain garden with rocks so it keeps the erosion down.
And I will move the plants that are in its path and relocate them. In order for this to work we have to have a large opening at the base of the fence between the rose at the corner and the tall grass. This can pose a problem as it will allow critters to easily get under the fence. So we will install a screen over the opening.
So there you have it….now I just have to draw the plans for the new rain garden, fill in exactly what is growing there, what is staying, what is moving and what plants we are adding. I’ll keep you posted once the plans are finalized.
Have you ever stuck your foot in your garden or any space and looked closely to see what is there? Give it a try.
Next up on the blog:
Monday will be time to profile another favorite native plant for Wildflower Wednesday.
I am linking in with Michelle for her Nature Notes meme at her blog, Rambling Woods. It is a great way to see what is happening in nature around the world every Tuesday.