Make a Splash with Water and Bog Plants

Water gardens add interest to your yard , and bog plants can turn some of your most problematic moisture-attracting areas into a design asset. Choose from these gorgeous water and bog plants.

Excerpted from Garden Design
Goats Beard Fern is Focal Point in Bog Garden Garden Design ©Dorling Kindersley Limited 2009

'Kneiffii' Goatsbeard

The 'Kneiffii' goatsbeard produces fern-like foliage and tumbling flowerheads that look like small white caterpillars. Although it looks delicate, it is quite robust and will tolerate full sun or partial shade. 'Kneiffii' goatsbeard will grow to 30 inches tall and 18 inches wide.

Willie Buchanan Astilbe Blooms in Haze of Pink Garden Design ©Dorling Kindersley Limited 2009


The pink haze of the 'Willie Buchanan' astilbe, shown here, attracts beneficial insects from mid-to-late summer, when its tiny white flowers open to show their red stamens. To make a bolder statement, go with 'Fanal,' whose feathery plumes of long-lasting, crimson flowers first appear in early summer. If you're looking to fill even more space, consider 'Professor van der Wielen,' which produces large, arching sprays of delicate creamy-white flowers, to 4 feet tall to 3 feet wide. Astilbes do well in bog environments, such as pond or path edges, with partial sun.

Flowering Rush Popular Plant for Pond Margins Garden Design ©Dorling Kindersley Limited 2009

Flowering Rush

The flowering rush is a deservedly popular plant for pond margins, with its narrow angled leaves and pale pink, fragrant flowers. Growing to 3 feet tall, flowering rush will reach unlimited width when planted in a depth of 2 to 6 inches, in full sun.

Marsh Marigolds Bring Color to Pond Margins Garden Design ©Dorling Kindersley Limited 2009

Marsh Marigold

Marsh marigolds bring color to sunny pond margins as their intense yellow blooms appear in late spring. Although they grow to 24 inches tall and 18 inches wide at water level, they also suit planting baskets if you need to control their spread.

Umbrella Plant is Slow Spreading Perennial Garden Design ©Dorling Kindersley Limited 2009

Umbrella Plant

The umbrella plant is a slow-spreading perennial that brings color to sunny streams and pond margins and grows to 4 feet tall. White and pink springtime flowers are followed by green foliage that gradually turns red in the fall.

Joe Pye Weed Good for Seasonal Color Garden Design ©Dorling Kindersley Limited 2009

Joe Pye Weed

A superb addition to a wildlife bog garden, Joe Pye weed attracts bees and butterflies with small pink flowers encircled by purple-green leaves. It grows to 6 feet tall and 3 feet wide in full or partial sun.

Queen of the Prairies Forms Colorful Screen Garden Design ©Dorling Kindersley Limited 2009

Queen of the Prairie

The queen of the prairie needs space to spread, so choose a planting position for this sun-loving, pink-flowering perennial carefully. Consider using its height - to 6 feet - to form a screen at the back of a bog garden display.

Kermesina Water Iris Bears Red Purple Blooms Garden Design ©Dorling Kindersley Limited 2009


To give your bog the look of bulbs, search no further than irises. Good choices for smaller ponds include the white-marked 'Kermesina' blue flag, shown here; the shapely flowers of the 'Butter and Sugar,' which boasts white upper petals and butter-yellow lower petals from mid- to late spring; and Iris laevigata, whose blue-purple flowers sit well among broad, sword-shaped leaves that sprout from the shallows. If you're looking for more height - to 4 feet - consider the yellow-striped leaves of Iris pseudacorus 'Variegata' or 'Perry's Blue,' whose mid-blue flowers are dappled with rusty-colored veins.

Irises love full sun, and some need to be protected in winter. A number of them tend to spread to the point of invasiveness, so read labels carefully before you commit to them. Consider planting vigorous spreaders in baskets at the margins of a pond to keep them from taking over.

Yellow Wax Bells are Unusual Plants for Bog Garden Garden Design ©Dorling Kindersley Limited 2009

Golden Wax Bells

An unusual plant for the bog garden, clump-forming perennial golden wax bells has jagged green leaves and pale yellow, bell-shaped flowers. Plant in moist acid soil in a partly-shaded sheltered site, where it can grow to 4 feet tall and 30 inches wide.

Leopard Plant is Must for Larger Bog Gardens Garden Design ©Dorling Kindersley Limited 2009

Ligularia 'The Rocket'

A plant of contrasts with jet black flower stems and bright yellow flower spikes, bog-loving rocket ligularia is a must for larger gardens. Choose a bright site that is shaded from the midday sun to help it blast off to 6 feet tall and 3-1/2 feet wide.

Shuttlecock or Ostrich Fern Last through Winter Garden Design ©Dorling Kindersley Limited 2009


The ostrich fern, shown here, attracts special interest when its enormous, finely dissected fronds emerge from the ground in spring and grow to 5 1/2 feet tall and 3 feet wide; fertile fronds form a brown central cluster each winter.

Even bigger at 6 feet tall and 12 feet wide, the royal fern draws attention at the edge of a pond, where fresh, mid-green sterile fronds gracefully unfurl each spring and tassel-like fertile fronds form in the center of the plant each summer. Both varieties enjoy partial sun.

Plant Water Forget Me Not Close to Pond Edge Garden Design ©Dorling Kindersley Limited 2009

Water Forget-me-not

Plant water forget-me-nots close to a pond edge, where their tiny blue blooms with white, pink or yellow eyes can be clearly seen. Water forget-me-nots grow to 18 inches tall and unlimited width in full or partial sun.

Darwin Water Lily Has Peony Like Fragrance Garden Design ©Dorling Kindersley Limited 2009

Water Lily

One of the best known and most-beloved water plants, water lilies come in many varieties to suit any pond. The pink flowers of 'Darwin,' shown here, grow vigorously amongst large, flat, dark green leaves, to 5 feet wide. Plant it in your medium-sized pond alongside fragrant, white-flowering 'Gonnère' and 'Marliacea Chromatella,' a very old cultivar that produces lemon-yellow flowers from mid- to late summer.

For a smaller space consider 'Froebelii,' whose tiny burgundy flowers open to reveal golden stamens from mid-summer to fall. At only 30 inches wide, it is ideal for small ponds, tubs or half-barrels.

Pickerel Weed is Marginal Plant with Blue Spikes Garden Design ©Dorling Kindersley Limited 2009

Pickerel Weed

Pretty from a distance, pickerel weed's spikes of starry blue flowers and lance-shaped leaves, which grow to 3 to 4 1/2 feet tall in full sun, are exquisite close up.

Moonlight Primrose Blooms in Midsummer Garden Design ©Dorling Kindersley Limited 2009


Primroses can bring sweetness to semi-shady bog gardens. Shown here, deciduous moonlight primrose produces fragrant white, yellow or violet tubular blooms in mid-summer. The semievergreen candelabra primula P. beesiana bears vivid magenta flowers at intervals to 24 inches tall, creating a colorful, textured display. On another candelabra primrose, 'Inverewe,' up to 15 bright red flowers appear on each white stem. While moonlight primrose and P. beesiana prefer partial shade, 'Inverewe' will tolerate full sun as long as its roots are kept moist.

Ornamental Rhubarb has Plumes of Cerise Pink Garden Design ©Dorling Kindersley Limited 2009


Ornamental rhubarb needs a large garden to accommodate its giant leaves and, in the case of 'Atrosanguineum,' shown here, huge plumes of pink summer flowers. It needs deep, moist and very fertile soil and full or partial sun to sustain the healthy growth it needs to reach 8 feet tall and 6 feet wide.

If flowers aren't for you, consider another titan of the bog garden: giant prickly rhubarb. This plant demands plenty of room to share its dramatic foliage - to 15 feet tall and 10 feet wide. Plant giant prickly rhubarb in permanently moist soil that get full or partial sun, and cover the crowns with a dry mulch in hard winters.

Featherleaf is Grown for Purple Bronze Foliage Garden Design ©Dorling Kindersley Limited 2009

'Superba' Featherleaf Rodgersflower

Grown for its foliage, the young, purplish-bronze leaves of 'Superba' featherleaf rodgersflower mature to dark green with distinctive veins. From mid- to late summer, clusters of tiny bright pink flowers reach above the leaves, to 4 feet tall, followed by brown seedheads. Rodgersia prefers full or partial sun, and must be protected from cold winds.

American Burnet has Bottle Brush White Spikes Garden Design ©Dorling Kindersley Limited 2009

Canadian Burnet

A great plant for producing lush green foliage, tall-growing Canadian burnet needs to be placed at the back of a bog garden or moist border. Canadian burnet prefers full or partial sun, and its clumps are best divided in spring or fall.

Miniature Cattail Ideal Plant for Small Pond Garden Design ©Dorling Kindersley Limited 2009

Dwarf Cattail

An ideal plant for small ponds or tubs, perennial dwarf cattail's narrow vertical leaves are joined in late summer by cylindrical flower spikes, which can be cut and used in indoor arrangements. It grows to 30 inches tall and 12-18 inches wide in full sun.

Arum Lily Brings Grace and Style to Ponds and Bogs Garden Design ©Dorling Kindersley Limited 2009

Calla Lily

One of the most exotic-looking marginal plants, the calla lily brings grace and style to ponds and bog gardens. Large pure white flowers, which gleam against the bright green foliage, open from late spring through to midsummer. Calla lilies grow to 36 inches tall and 36 inches wide in shallow water and full sun.

Excerpted from Garden Design

©Dorling Kindersley Limited 2009

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