The Bog Garden

The Bog Garden

The Bog Garden is a relatively new, but very popular, feature. It lies north-west of the Hall and immediately west of the sawmill. It was always a boggy area and in 1991 it was dug out to form a small pond. The surrounding area has been planted with all the herbaceous plants grown from seed collected on expeditions abroad for the arboretum; there are a lot from China, but also from India, North America, New Zealand, Japan and Europe. There are still a few plants from garden sources which were put in right at the beginning, but these are slowly being replaced. It is meant to show natural plants unimproved by controlled cross- breeding.

One unusual plant which attracts quite a lot of comment is Rheum alexandrae, of which there are a number of clumps. They come from wet ground at high altitude in different parts of Sichuan in south-west China, and have striking flowering spikes covered in drooping cream bracts. They are easy to grow, not easy to flower, but they seem to like our cool climate. There are a number of different Chinese and European salvias, an Indian nepeta, lots of primulas, a few delphinium which rarely last more than a couple of years, tall Chinese aconites which last much longer, arisaemas (the Cobra Lily) mainly from China and Japan, cardiocrinums from China and Japan (the latter not nearly so good), trollius from Europe and the Far East, Chinese and Indian rodgersias and astilbes, and many other species of all descriptions. Because the great majority were all collected as seed in September/October, they tend to flower in July, August and September; the Bog Garden therefore follows naturally on from Silverwood and the borders in front of the Hall.

To give it structure, a number of trees and shrubs have also been planted in and around it from our expeditions, mainly cotoneaster, berberis, roses, and deutzias, but also including a Chinese poplar and euptelea, a swamp cypress from Maryland in America, cercidiphyllum from both China and Japan, and, just by the water at the north end of the pond, a young Glyptostrobus pensilis, a very rare and unusual conifer from North Vietnam of perhaps modest horticultural value! While it would be helpful to label many plants, it would turn the Bog Garden into a botanic garden and spoil much of its natural effect. Labelling is a difficult question to which there seems to be no sensible answer; no one denies its usefulness but it is so difficult to do acceptably, with so many differenting.

In recent years, we have had more favorable feedback on the Bog Garde from visitors than anything else.