This blog reviews the latest products, plants and innovations in gardening. It also provides a link for my many gardening friends who are members of the GardenMessenger and Seedmessenger Yahoo groups and their sub-groups that I moderate.

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Location: Australia

I am a semi-retired UK botanical garden curator and former international horticultural consultant, who has worked extensively in Europe, the Middle East, North America and Australia. I spend part of the year in Australia and part in Europe, mainly due to family and work commitments. I earn my living from writing and editing Internet copy, articles and books. I have written over fifty books on gardening and have been translated into twenty-four different languages. I am a former UK Garden Writer of the Year and a previous Quill & Trowel Award Winner from the Garden Writer’s Association of America. I am interested in developing gardening communities on the Internet and I manage the popular GardenMessenger Yahoo group, along with its various sub-groups like PondMessenger and SeedMessenger. I also edit International Water Gardener and its associated regional web-sites.

Sunday, May 14, 2006

Making a Bog Garden, New Zealand Show Garden and Harkness Roses

A bog garden is a great feature

One of the least fashionable, but I believe most colourful and interesting garden features, is the bog garden. If you are thinking of constructing one, then this is a good time to start making preparations. A bog garden does not have to be attached to a pond to be successful. Some of the best are completely separate features, either beside a pond or in another part of the garden and it is this independent bog or marsh garden feature that I want to introduce gardeners to here. Providing that that situation is open and sunny, or no more than partly shaded, there is no reason why such a a bog garden that is independent of a garden pond cannot be created.

On stony soils use fleece to prevent liner damage

An independent bog garden is most easily constructed using a liner or sheet of heavy gauge polythene. Use in a similar fashion to that described for a pond construction, but of a uniform depth of 45cm (18ins). Shallow excavations lead to rapid drying out of the soil and all the attendant problems that this brings. Take just as much care when lining an excavation for the bog garden as for a pond. As with a garden pond, scour the excavation for sharp stones or anything else that may puncture the liner. On stony soils spread out a generous layer of damp sand over the base of the excavation and smooth it up the sides. Alternatively use cushioning fleece. Such a precaution is well worth taking, especially on free-draining soils, where uncontrolled seepage from the bog garden can cause problems. Conversely on very heavy wet soils, if there is a prospect of the bog garden becoming waterlogged, the liner should be pierced periodically in a controlled manner with a garden fork. This helps to alleviate excessively wet winter conditions which can be just as damaging to bog garden plants as summer drought. The major problem with any bog garden is securing neat edges. There are many options available, but there are two that are quite straight forward and very effective.

Grass provides a neat edge

If the bog garden is to have a fairly straight, formal outline, then lengths of timber can be used and the edge of the liner or polythene wrapped around these and secured with narrow strips of timber. The wood and liner can then be buried just beneath the surface of the surrounding garden. It is even possible to grass right up to the edge. The liner or polythene protects the wood from rotting and the whole arrangement means that if alterations or major maintenance operations have to be conducted, finding and securing the edge of the lining is simple. If an informal outline is desired, bricks can be used as an alternative. This is a little more time-consuming to arrange, for each individual brick is wrapped in the edge of the liner and placed against the next. However, it allows great flexibility in making a formal edge.The bog garden can utilise all the soil that has been removed, unless it is of a very sandy nature. In this case it should be mixed with a generous quantity of well-rotted organic matter. The best bog garden soils are heavy clay-loam mixed with well-rotted organic material, periodically fertilized with a slow-release fertilizer. The moisture content should be constantly monitored with an independent bog garden, especially in prolonged hot spells.

Chelsea Show Gardens Preview
During each of the days running up to the Chelsea Flower Show I am previewing a show garden. Although these are often regarded as garden theatre and not as sustainable under normal gardening conditions, they are often full of interesting and innovative ideas which can be taken, at least in part, and used in our gardens at home.

The 100% Pure New Zealand Garden

This garden aims to illustrate the unique culture and landscape of New Zealand. The design will represent contemporary New Zealand and the relationship between design and the natural environment. The garden is inspired by the west coast of Auckland and it reflects the close relationship with the city and the wild natural coastline. It follows the movement of water from hilltop to the horizon through rivers, waterfalls, lakes and natural streams. The planting follows the transition from hilltop to the shore, and is naturalistic in nature. It embraces the edges of the architectural elements and softens the harsh angles. The design features a black sand beach fringed with a native rain forest, reminiscent of the Waitakere Ranges, where the designer spent her childhood.


Streptocarpus ‘Jacquie’
'Jacquie' is a delightful cultivar bred by Streptocarpus specialists Dibleys Nurseries of Ruthin, North Wales.The right to name the cultivar was auctioned at the NSPCC (National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children) Snowball held last December in Cardiff. The final bid was for £1050 (which all goes to the NSPCC). As well as choosing the name the winner will be visiting the Chelsea Flower Show on Press Day when the plant will be officially introduced. A percentage of all 2006 sales of 'Jacquie' will be donated to the NSPCC.

New Roses From Harkness
World famous rose breeders Harkness Roses of Hitchin, Hertfordshire, England are launching five new roses at the Chelsea Flower Show later this month. I present a short review of each. For more details about one Europe’s best-loved rose breeders visit and to learn more about their new introductions, click here.

‘Fetzer Syrah Rosé’
This rose has the aroma of its namesake wine. It is unusual to have a rose named after a wine. This fragrant rose has a colour and scent that closely matches the Fetzer Syrah Rosé wine.

‘Caroline Victoria’
This cultivar is named in memory of Caroline Victoria Coldicutt who died tragically at the age of seventeen. Caroline was a great art lover and particularly talented at depicting tranquil Californian landscapes. She won regional art awards for her landscapes, and her work has been shown in galleries in California, London and Paris. The perfumed blossoms have a high-centred whorl of petals in perfect hybrid tea form. Their colour responds to variations of temperature and light, from delicate amber-blush at early opening, to inner depths of light gold flushed with an occasional trace of lemon, as the petals reflex.

‘St. Richard of Chichester’
The rose is named for a much-loved thirteenth century Bishop of Chichester who has been remembered through time as a compassionate man with a deep spirituality and a strong sense of humour. The rose will raise money for the restoration and development trust of Chichester Cathedral , Sussex in the south of England. It is a shrub rose with delicately formed golden-amber blooms. When fully open they reveal loosely cupped quartered centres. The scent is fresh and spicy.

‘Helen Robinson’
This is a free-flowering candy-pink hybrid tea with abundant, medium-sized flowers, up to 10cm (4ins) across when fully open. The richly fragrant blossoms are carried in terminal clusters of 2 or 3 per stem, although they occasionally appear singly. The rose is named for Helen Robinson, who with her husband Dick, created Hyde Hall Gardens from a neglected farm into a major garden with an international reputation. Thirty years after the garden was started it was donated to the Royal Horticultural Society to use as a centre for gardening in the east of England and for horticultural education.

‘Varenna Allen’
This is a delightful golden-apricot floribunda or cluster-flowered cultivar, with a naturally high resistance to diseases. It produces myriad clusters of semi-double blooms that open wide. The breeders believe that it will be an absolute winner in the garden landscape. Growth is compact and bushy, ideal for any general planting situation that requires a mass of colour.


American Hosta Society National Convention 2006
14th - 17th June
Radisson Hotel Valley Forge
1160 First Avenue,
King of Prussia,
PA 19406,
Web-site click here.

Happy Gardening



Today’s Sponsor

Photos: Bog and NZ garden and Roses: Royal Horticultural Society
Fleece and turf: Interpet

If you have enjoyed this publication, you may also like to visit the monthy SeedMessenger gardeners’ seed saving and seed exchange blog click here.
and the weekly water gardening blog PondMessenger click here.

To join the GardenMessenger gardening community
click here

To visit the SeedMessenger seed exchange web-site
click here

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