I recently gave a speech to my local Toastmaster club about bog gardens and why someone might want to build one in their yard. The first question is always: what is a bog garden? Well, a bog garden is simply a small version of a swamp. Which leads me to the next obvious question: why on earth would anyone want a swamp in their yard????
Swamps are actually incredibly valuable pieces of our ecosystem. They are, essentially, the sewage treatment plants of our environment. Dirty wastewater filters into swamps where sediments drop out, chemicals are taken up and neutralized by plants, and water leaves the other end much cleaner than when it entered. We have traditionally taken these ares of our ecosystem for granted, often draining and filling them to make them more appealing. The smell can be pretty offensive at times, but imagine if all the world's waste runoff was hanging out in your backyard instead!
Having a bog garden in your backyard isn't going to solve the world's wastewater runoff problems because it's so small. So, what is the advantage of a bog garden?
One major advantage of building a bog garden is that you can use it to turn a problem into a solution. If you have a boggy, wet area in your yard, instead of trying to fight with it, use it! Turn that area into a beautiful place for plants to grow. Solve a problem and grow something beautiful. Two birds with one stone.
The other obvious reason to grow a bog garden is the unique and exciting plants that you can plant in a bog garden! Many of these plants won't do well in a traditional dry garden, so they would need a boggy spot to live in.
We have one such boggy spot in our yard. It is always water logged after rain, and stays so for many days. Instead of trying to fill it in, we decided to work with it. My husband boarded the area off for me earlier this year, and I finally got around to planting it this week.
Many bog plants are actually carnivorous plants. I'd be remiss as a biologist if I didn't mention that carnivorous is actually a misnomer, since plants don't eat anything. These plants do break down and dissolve insects, and they then use the nutrients gained from the breakdown of the insects to grow.
Sarracenia, often called pitcher plant, has pitchers that fill full of acid. Insects are attracted to the sweet smelling liquid inside, crawl in, and then get trapped by the downward facing hairs in the pitchers. The acids inside the pitcher then dissolve the insects.
|Sarracenia 'Carolina Yellow Jacket'|
My kids are hoping I'll acquire some venus fly traps to add to the collection. What are your favorite carnivorous plants?