Following last week’s article about creating a water feature, I received many enquiries about planting it up and related bog gardens.
A bog garden is easily constructed as part of the pond. A continuous liner from the pond under the bog garden will serve as an overflow as well as ensuring the level of moisture required for bog plants. A layer of gravel underneath the soil gives some drainage, and stones hiding a fine mesh, or even weed suppressant, will prevent soil falling into your pond and muddying the water. Bog gardens can also become part of the filtration system of your pond, if they are supplied with slow running water the roots of water plants will have an antibacterial effect. Bog gardens can also be independent from the pond, at its most basic it is a hole in the ground lined with polythene or pond liner and back filled with soil and peat. The minimum depth should be 30cm as it can dry out very quickly in warm weather, and when it does it tends to be even drier than the surrounding ground. Access to a hose is handy!
When planting up water features and ponds, it is extremely important to bear in mind the size of your feature. Many water plants grow very quickly and become invasive, especially reeds and grasses! There are three zones to a pond which you will notice on the labels of water plants. Zone one is shallow, up to 30cm deep, zone two is up to 60cm deep, and zone three is anything deeper. Always plant at the recommended depth or they will not grow successfully.
Generally, we tend to think first of water lilies when it comes to pond plants, and, indeed, they are probably the most spectacular. Water lilies, or Nymphea, are available in different sizes, which enables almost anyone to grow at least one. As a general rule of thumb, they tend to grow about 1.5 times the width of their depth, so a lily planted at a depth of 60cm, will spread about 90cm on the surface of your pond. N. Attraction is ideal for a large pond, growing to a width 1.5m with deep red flowers. A smaller red lily to try is N. Froebelii, growing to 50cm wide. Laydekeri lilies are ideal for a small pond, they will happily grow in only 30cm of water. I have several in different colours, but really it is their leaves which are quite unusual, being striped green and maroon.
Iris are also a beautiful marginal plant. In my garden the Iris laevigata varieties grow best. These are a true aquatic plant which will grow in shallow water. Available in blues, pinks and a pure white, they are worth adding to your pond. Iris pseudocorus is the typical ‘flag’ we see in many ditches, but is better used as a bog plant, as in the winter its crown prefers to be dry.
In the case of both lilies and iris, it can be quite difficult to find specific varieties, and unfortunately we often have to make do with what the local garden centre has to offer! Unfortunately, I have had the experience of ordering them on the Internet go horribly wrong – once I had to pay damage costs as water leaked out from the package, and another time the plants arrived rotten. So, be warned if you are tempted!
Jobs to keep gardeners busy
The weather is glorious at the moment, so I thought I would put together some jobs to keep every gardener busy! Winter bedding is now available – so plant up containers and pots to keep everything cheerful this winter! Conifers such as Goldcrest and Elwoodiis are an excellent choice for a centrepiece, as are Cordylines, […]
The weather is glorious at the moment, so I thought I would put together some jobs to keep every gardener busy!
Winter bedding is now available – so plant up containers and pots to keep everything cheerful this winter! Conifers such as Goldcrest and Elwoodiis are an excellent choice for a centrepiece, as are Cordylines, Phormiums and topiary plants such as Buxus and Bay laurels. Heathers give colour all winter, as do ornamental cabbages. Winter pansies, violas and Batchelor’s buttons are all in stock now, and will provide colour for months, Cyclamen are beautiful – but beware! They do not like getting too wet, so ideally use them in pots and window boxes which do not get too much rain.
Bulbs provide a welcome splash of colour in the early spring, at a time when things are looking grey and grim. Choose from an extensive range – tulips, daffs, crocus, snowdrops – to name but a few. Planting mixtures of different varieties can lead to stunning displays in a pot, for example, plant in layers: tulips at the bottom, then daffs, hyacinth, crocus and anenomes for a long lasting pot of colour. In the garden plant bulbs in informal clusters of uneven numbers to give a natural looking display. Alliums are particularly trendy at the moment, these ornamental onions are available in pinks, white and yellow.
Pruning is one of those jobs which can give immense satisfaction. All old flower heads, the straggly growth of herbaceous plants and branches of unkempt shrubs can go into the compost heap. Pruning equipment can be confusing for the new gardener, so here are a few guidelines: there are two types of secateurs, bypass and anvil. The anvil secateurs is used for dead wood, but the bypass secateurs can be used for live as well as dead wood. The hedge shears are used to prune large shrubs or hedges, but is best for soft or thin growth. Loppers are used to prune trees and thicker branches and have long handles. These also come as anvil or bypass. Some of these are geared, these take the strain and strength needed out of the job, an excellent invention!
As the days get shorter and wetter, moss will start to grow again. Treat paths before they get slippy, with a product such as MossOff. Try to keep fallen leaves off lawns as they contribute to poor growth of grass and strong moss growth. A leafblower makes the job easy – especially a cordless one!
Lawns benefit from a final treatment in the autumn with a product such as an Autumn Lawn Feed and Weed or Viano Recovery from the producers of MO Bacter. These products both treat the roots of the grass, making the plant itself stronger for the winter. They do not cause excessive growth.
Finally, if there are empty beds in your vegetable garden, consider sowing a green manure such as winter rye or red clover. These will prevent weeds from taking over as well as enriching the soil with nitrogen. In the spring they can be cut down and dug into the soil, providing essential organic matter.
Add heather for plenty of garden colour
By Debby Looney, gardening expert Nothing provides more reliable colour and interest throughout the winter months than heathers. A forgotten about group of plants, they have gotten a bad rep for overgrowing their welcome. It is true that if not looked after they become lanky, woody, brown, straggly and unsightly. The only reason heathers become ugly […]
By Debby Looney, gardening expert
Nothing provides more reliable colour and interest throughout the winter months than heathers. A forgotten about group of plants, they have gotten a bad rep for overgrowing their welcome.
It is true that if not looked after they become lanky, woody, brown, straggly and unsightly. The only reason heathers become ugly is because they need a severe trim after flowering every year. Miss a year and things start going wrong. After flowering, cut back all heathers to the point at which they started flowering. This does not really have to be done carefully, you can take a shears or even a hedge trimmer to them. This is the only attention they will need all year!
Heathers fall into two groups, Calluna, and Erica. Callunas are lime tolerant and recognisable as such by their leaves and structure. The leaves are smooth and soft, and their growth is upright. Ericas do not tolerate lime, and their leaves are more like needles. They do not grow as tall as Calluna types, and their growth is horizontal more so than vertical. I think heathers look best in a designated bed as they compliment each other. Having said that, they also work really well as a border edging, especially Erica varieties as they tend to stay lower and have a nice round growth habit. I have Erica ‘Kramer’s Red’ along the driveway, in winter it blazes purple and in summer it is a nice dark green. Perfect! They are also ideal planted under roses as they provide a nice bit of interest in the winter. I have recently started adding the to mixed perennial beds too where I think they look great when all else has withered. Heathers are ideal for banks too, and will tolerate wind and fairly dry soil. Yes, I am a fan of heathers!
Some varieties to try are: Calluna ‘Silver Knight’, beautiful mauve flowers on silver foliage. C. ‘Dark Beauty’ – the deepest of burgundy flowers on rich green foliage, the most striking of all the dark flowered ones. C. ‘Wickwar Flame’, lavender flowers on golden foliage, good contrast. C. ‘Theresa’, pink buds on golden foliage – looks like it glows! C. ‘Helena’ white buds on bright green foliage, a welcome break from the pink colours. C. ‘Bonita’ has crimson buds on amber foliage, very pretty. Erica varieties: E. ‘St. Keverne’ has bright pink flowers early in the autumn, compact growth habit. E. ‘Darley Dale’ pink, but foliage has white tips in the spring. E. ‘Eva Gold’ pink flowers, golden foliage. E. ‘Furzey’ dark pink flowers, pink tips in spring. E. ‘White perfection’, pure white flowers, E. ‘Moonshine’, lime green foliage with pale pink flowers, E. ‘Saskia’, masses of rose pink flowers clustered at the end of the shoots, very showy!
There is a relatively new trend in Calluna types emerging, one of which sells under ‘the Girls’ range or ‘bud heathers’. These are usually two or three different colours in one pot. They are different plants put in together and I have noticed in the garden one colour usually takes over from the others. The problem with these is that if you are planting for pollinators they are useless as the buds do not open! They are also, in my experience, not very reliable repeat flowers. All heathers, except these bud heathers are excellent for pollinators. They provide much needed pollen in winter and spring, and it is a great idea to plant them near your apple trees and other fruit plants in order to get pollinators into the habit of visiting a certain area of your garden. All in all, there should be a spot for heather in anyone’s garden!
Katie celebrates 20 years in business
If you enjoy what you do, sure it’s not work at all – and that has been the case for...
County Board open to GAA museum proposals
By Sean Moriarty The Kerry County GAA Board said it would operate “an open door policy” for any plans to build...
Loreto pupils are happy to help save the planet
By Michelle Crean School pupils are fast becoming the next generation of environmentalists thanks to a brand new litter-picking campaign....
Liam O’Connor is the Pride of Cork
By Sean Moriarty Legendary accordion player, Killarney resident and Newmarket, County Cork native Liam O’Connor will pick up a Pride...
More film fun next week with HER Festival
By Michelle Crean The film theme is set to continue in town as the second annual HER International Film Festival...
No reform for football championship as Plan B falls short
by Adam Moynihan There will be no radical change for the All-Ireland Senior Football Championship in 2022 after a motion...
A lover of music and song: Jimmy O’Brien RIP
Eamonn Fitzgerald remembers the late Jimmy O’Brien, the eminently popular bar owner, singer and GAA fan who left an indelible...
OPINION: Plan B isn’t perfect but it’s a step in the right direction
The ‘league as championship’ model has its flaws but it must be passed at Congress nevertheless, writes Adam Moynihan As...
Public welcome to see Kilcummin’s new state-of-the-art facilities
By Michelle Crean With brand new dressing rooms, a state-of-the-art fitness centre and gym, a referee’s room, a training pitch,...
Eileen rewarded for her dedication to athletics
By Sean Moriarty Well-known Dalton’s Avenue woman Eileen Switzer has been named as the Honorary President of Killarney Valley Athletic...