The Bog Gardens

Part of the Native Plant Trail

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Written and narrated by Ed Miller.

The Bog Gardens

If you have been watching this bog garden for several years, you will have noted some changes. Originally the floating raft, with its load of peat and plants, was in a plastic stock watering tank. When used on the farm, an electric heater in the tank keeps the ice melted. Without the heater, thick ice formed and cracked the tank. We replaced it with a flexible timber box with a rubber pond liner and solved the problem. On our first bog garden we let sedges grow, and they took over the raft. Now we try to eliminate sedges, grasses, and rushes, even though they occur naturally in some less acidic bogs. Don’t feel sorry for them, though; the meadows here at Landis have a rich diversity of sedges, grasses, and rushes. And we have let a few plants of cotton grass grow, as they are so much in evidence on northern bogs and we think we can keep them under control.

Note that the bog garden is distant from a water supply. For the original fill up, we used well water from a tap at the greenhouse. Since we went to the current design, most of the water has come from rain and snow. We are fortunate that the Northeast gets more precipitation than evaporation. Each winter the bog overflows. A problem with our well water is that it contains lime and is less acidic than the water of our northern bogs. Eventually, the growing sphagnum moss is predicted to make our bog garden acidic.

In August 2012, we built an additional bog garden to provide more room for bog plants. The new design is somewhat larger and only living sphagnum moss and a few woody and herbaceous plants have been added. This approach worked well for a similar bog garden that we helped the Thacher Nature Center create.

We have made no changes in the plants on the original raft and we will not duplicate its larger plants on the new raft (for instance, the Bog Birch, Sweet gale, Chokeberry, and Iris). Hopefully, some of the smaller plants such as Pitcherplant, Sundew, and Bog club moss will be happier in the new location.

*Ryan Cole built a bog garden to our new design at the Emma Treadwell Thacher Nature Center as an Eagle Scout project. Ed Miller, Curator, the Native Plant Collection. September 2012