Water Garden Plants for Water Garden Ponds

water garden plants

Water Garden Plants

When recommending water garden plants, there are so many that it is difficult to single out a few, but in general, those that are in nature associated with water margins will look the most convincing. For the borders of large pools, the Gunneras, Rheums and Rodgersias are magnificent. If you have a sufficiently skilful eye to be able to juggle proportions about and break rules, you can even place  one of these monsters in a small garden to great effect. They need a moist but not waterlogged soil.

If you do not have such an obliging bit of land you can contrive one, by excavating the area you require to about 30-60cm (12″-24″) deep and lining this with polythene. Quite a cheap quality will do as it does not have to be water-tight, just moisture retentive, by slowing down the drainage.

The excavated soil should be mixed with peat, leaf-mould, well-rotted compost and some bonemeal. Prick drainage holes through the side of the plastic, starting an inch or two above the bottom in some places, a bit higher in others, so that small reserves of water will be retained but not enough to allow the soil to become sour and water-logged. Then return half the enriched soil, and lay a length of hose-pipe along it, either in one line or snaking about on a larger area. The far end of the hose should be blocked off in some fashion and holes pierced at about  15-20cm (6″-8″) intervals along the pipe. The other end should be brought to the surface near to the water supply, and be fitted with a hose connector. During dry periods, water can be run through the hose to keep the soil moist, while in winter and periods of serious rainfall, things would look after themselves. Flagging foliage will be a sign that you need to intervene and let the water run through again.

Gunneras are susceptible to frost damage. They can be protected by wrapping their own leaves round their crowns in late autumn, and tying these in place. A further mulch of bracken or peat, etc., can be piled over this for extra comfort. In this cosy wig-wam, they should make it through till spring.

It is not a good idea to moisten these artificial bogs by overflowing the pool, as the introduction of sufficient cold water to achieve this will upset the balance of the pool to a serious extent.

Filipendula multijuga Water garden plants that will enjoy these semi-bog conditions include the Filipendulas, Hostas, Primulas, Mimulus, Lythrums, Astilbes, Aruncus, Hemerocallis, several Iris, and many others, as well as the aforementioned giants. Several of them can be grown from seed, cuttings and divisions, so that you should be able to plant quite reasonably, and do remember to do this in good bold groups, not in irritating dots.

The true bog water garden plants and marginals will be happiest in a few inches of water on a ledge or trough near the water garden pond’s edges (the more vigorous of them in containers to restrain their enthusiasm) These would include Calla palustris, Caltha palustris, Iris pseudacorus, I. pseudacorus ‘Variegata’ and Pontederia cordata.

Beyond these waterside plants come the shrubs and trees. The Willows, of course, in variety, but do not make the common mistake of planting the well-known Weeping Willow anywhere  near a small pool. It is one of the most beautiful trees when planted by large areas of water, but will quickly overhang and clog smaller water garden ponds.

Salix purpurea ‘Pendula’ is the tree for these smaller pools, while the Kilmarnock Willow, Salix caprea ‘Pendula’, would be in scale by even the merest apology of a mirror pool. Its long branches are a little stiff, perhaps, but it has a charm all of its own, and is hung with ‘pussies’ in the spring.

05. October 2010 by Dave Pinkney
Categories: Plants & Trees, Water Garden Plants | Tags: , , | Comments Off on Water Garden Plants for Water Garden Ponds


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