Seeking advice on placing a CP bog: want natural effect.

njbiologyAugust 29, 2008


I have a 35 x 25 man-made pond in my yard with an exit and entrance stream. The entire pond/stream set-up has a 3-wide marsh all around it (Mallows, Cardinal Flowers, Irises, Arrowheads, etc.) Very naturalistic effect.

I want to build a carnivorous plant bog for native CPs and cranberries. I want this to appear in my yard in the most natural way possible.

I could put the bog in any of the following locations:

-Away from the pond in a slightly depressed section of the yard.

-Right after the marsh that surrounds the pond so that the marsh and CP are directly next to eachother so that the grade goes from plants in the water, alkaline mud plants next to the pond, and then CP plants after this.

The thing is that I want this to look like the CP plant community is completely naturally formed (as best as possible). In nature, do you ever see a pond that is not sterile surrounded by fertile mud loving marsh plant and then a sterile row of peat bog... as though the pond was, over decades, getting smaller, leaving behind a developing CP bog community to form.

- OR I could make a dry stream bed run from the pond to the woods as though the stream used to be running and decades later, is turing into a soggy bog.

My wording is not so great here, but hopefully someone with naturalistic expertise will read this.



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Okay, so here's the deal...

Natural bogs are caused by a paradox of sorts in areas where there is both good drainage and constant moisture. This washes away excessive nutrients leaving a very clean environment. Looking at a natural bog, you might just see a wet area covered with sphagnum, but beneath that there is always a very slow constant water flow. In fact, in a trip recently to cape cod, I saw a bog between the dunes with sundews growing in pure sand.

There are lots of different kinds of bogs, ranging from seeps to kettle bogs. So the first thing to do is examine your site and determine what kind of bog you wish to emulate. I see you are in NJ, so you may want to visit the pine barrens to look at CPs in the wild. That will give you some great inspiration.

Okay, secondly you need to think about your water source. For water to work in a bog garden cannot have much disolved salts or minerals, and cannot be alkaline (in which case it would be a Fen instead). A conductivity test should tell you where your water is naturally. If you're only limitation is nitrogen, then you can seep the water through biological treatment areas first with high nitrogen using species like cattails. Otherwise, you might consider collecting rainwater off your roof in a rain barrel then slowly seep it out into your bog garden. This also has the benefit of naturally treating runoff from your property.

My bog gardens are modeled after a mountain bog, imitating natural seeps/springs where streams begin. I design them on a gentle slope to provide drainage with a curved basin wider at one end, and the other end open pointing down the hill. You can model a bog after any kind of natural system though. Go see some different types in the wild, and give some thought to how they work. After all, Nature is by far the best landscaper and should be your #1 reference for how to do things right. Through observation you may even decide to do a kind of bog no one has done before.

Hope this is helpful.

    Bookmark   December 12, 2008 at 2:00PM
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