‘The Planting a Bog, Blog’
Looking back at the August 2020 blog, we were just emerging from the national lockdown. I wrote at the time that regrettably the three B’s ‘Brambles, Bindweed and Balsam’ took control of many areas of the garden. This month the B’s ARE BACK and our attention has been frustratingly spent on tackling and removing these weeds. Once more our apologies if you’ve visited and seen grumbling gardeners lost in the brambles.
Some exciting news is that Malcolm Pharoah, our Astilbe National Collection holder, has discovered a new astilbe. This chance find has caused a great deal of excitement amongst our garden team. It is an arendsii type, a sport of ‘Lili Goos’ which is tall Astilbe, 90cm (3ft) in height and flowering in June. Instead of having red-pink flowers, this new find has a much more orange tint, it could be described as salmon or apricot in colour. We, alongside our visitors, are having great fun, deciding upon its name.
August has been a great summer holiday treat. The tearoom is bustling, and the garden has been full of families stretching out across the lawns enjoying ice creams and cream teas. The garden is full of colour, especially the herbaceous borders and the peony garden. Hydrangeas are currently the star attraction, coming in various shades of striking blue, purple, white, pink and red (my personal favourite). Many visitors are noticing the unusual white flowering Eucryphia trees dotted through the garden. Also admired are the pink loosestrife surrounding the lake and in the bog garden, and the white flowering Anemone ‘Honorine Jobert’. I hope you can visit us and enjoy this for yourselves.
This month we have been developing an area of the garden that the gardeners affectionately call the ‘marsh’. It’s the triangular section of land above the top lake found at the point where the stream enters the garden. In this area water cascades from a pool under a bridge and into the upper lake, creating a beautiful harmonious scene.
The ‘marsh’ has drastically changed in the last 10 years for many reasons. When the garden was first established this area was much drier underfoot than it is today. The skeleton of a dead tree gives testament to this. The once thriving green oak tree, which stood at the head of the valley, sadly demised due to emerging springs. The lake is essentially a dam, catching all the silt and detritus that comes down from the upper valley. Despite our best efforts with a series of silt catching traps the lake still needs to be periodically dredged. The dredging work can be quite destructive especially to the bank side and consequently much of the original lakeside planting was lost. A bridge over the marsh enables visitors to enjoy stunning views down the valley, with a raised perspective to the astilbe beds and beyond. This summer I have often heard children on the bridge calling for billy goat gruff and a troll so maybe the marsh holds more secrets to be found.
Now that much of the landscaping work has been completed, the gardeners have begun clearing and redesigning the areas. At the water’s edge, mimulus, watercress, weedy grass species, Iris pseudocorus, and Carex pendula (Sedge) are being removed. These wildflowers and weeds although beautiful are tall blocking the views down the valley across the lake. Great care has been taken to not remove all plants along the lake edge as their roots prevent erosion and keep the lake bank together.
One group of plants that is certainly destined to be homed in this area is our Iris ensata collection (Japanese Water Iris) These irises flower in the month of June with large, magnificent blooms and with their preference for moist soil will be very suitable. This redeveloped marsh area should complement the impressive bog garden further downstream.
We are so lucky to have a wonderful volunteer team at Marwood Hill Gardens. This month we welcome Scott, John and Sue to the team. It’s great to see our team growing with a mix of different ages and backgrounds. Some of the team prefer to work alone in the tranquillity of the garden, whilst others prefer group activities, but we all come together to enjoy a break with coffee and cakes. Please feel free to get in touch if you’d like to join in and volunteer, upcoming tasks include Hydrangea pruning, leaf clearance and propagation work.
11th & 12th September 2021. RHS Rosemoor Plant Fair, Devon.
We will have a stall and will be selling a range of Salvia’s, Astilbes, and other sought after herbaceous perennials that look good.
It’s exciting to think what September will bring.