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|05-17-2009, 05:53 PM||#1 (permalink)|
Building a Bog Pond for carnivorous plants
Hey all ... I had posted about this to the Orchid Forums per someone's request and thought, why not??? I will post it here too in case someone is interested.
For those of you who have walked the woods, marshes and swamps, there is nothing more amazing to the eye than to bust into a clearing full of pitcher plants and sundews. Even more amazing if you can time it for the flowering season of both (late spring here in zone 5b)! We have several natural peat bogs here in NYS and they offer an amazing opportunity to get close to the plants (Ahem! DON'T TOUCH!!) and for photo opportunities.
The first time I walked into one accidentally, I was mortified to find myself walking through and crushing sundews and on what felt like a giant water bed ... I backed out the way I had come and got a good look around. AMAZING!!! The ground appeared RED since the sundews were so plentiful and the pitcher plant flowers stood tall amidst the cranberry bushes and other stunted brush. Some of the pitchers I could see were about the size of a juice glass!
This prompted me to want to bring some of that home somehow ... I don't mean steal the plants ... I mean see that sight in my own yard. So I formulated a plan that made my neighbors think I had lost my mind, made my friends tell me it would never work and made my family miss me for over two weeks! LOL!
I bought a 75 gallon kidney shaped prefab pond ... you know ... the cheapys at Lowes or Home Depot in the garden center. It was the biggest one that they had since it was close of season for them and on sale to boot. I got seven 50# bags of sand, some patio stone, 10 bales of pure peat and went home.
POND INSTALLATION - I leveled and installed the pond per manufacturer's instructions, but unlike their suggestion that it not be placed in full sun, I did exactly that. Planted that bugger right in the middle of my south facing front yard in full daytime sun. I was very careful to level with sand and to raise the one side with patio blocks (you can see the pictures in my albums) since my yard has a downhill slope. I was also careful to leave as much of the edging exposed as possible. Since it is black, it soaks heat in the winter months, helping to keep the inside a split degree warmer than the ground outside the pond. Installing took the longest because I am no HE MAN and it was tough diggin that sized hole by hand with a pick ax and a shovel through shale and other rock (my yard is mostly shale and rock underneath what appears to be real dirt).
Next, I spent literally two hours mixing peat with rain and river water. I ran out of rain water in my barrels VERY quickly and ran back and forth in the truck to the river with gallon jugs (twenty five of them to be exact), filling each by hand and dumping them in layers with the dry peat, and mixing every time. WHAT A MESS! For those of you who have never worked with dry peat ... DO NOT wear clothes you care much about! LOL! I did each layer in six to twelve inch depths, mixing peat and water, stirring with my hands (DO NOT use metal or other objects to stir with ... you could contaminate the whole project). Then on to the next layer ... mixing the entire mess into a literal mud bath. It was awesome! HAHAAA!!! As I got ready to do the last layer, I leaned my entire body weight into pressing the peat down firmly all over the pond by hand. This caused the excess water to rise to the top and then I mixed dry peat with that ... just enough to create a slurry.
At the time I built this, I already had a variety of plants to put in it in pots in the house. Now was the exciting "plant your plants in your new bog!" time. I had been growing sphagnum in under bed boxes for over a year to use for other projects and now I finally had a REAL bog to let it grow in!!
I layered all of my moss in on the surface of the pond, left a small area bare (the part I call the "nursery") for seeds and special needs plants, and planted all of my carnivores throughout the moss. TA DA! IT WAS DONE!!! And everything except the moss promptly died off ...
Well, I should say died back, it had never occured to me to ACCLIMATE these poor babies to the direct sunshine! Naturally, they sprang back, growing deep red pitchers and gorgeous dewey, dewey sundews ... they were happy! When winter came, everything went to sleep and I watched and I worried and I had nightmares of everything dying and having a big green/brown puddle come spring.
When warmer temps started I ran out there every morning with my coffee cup and every evening before I even went inside from work. I looked, I poked (but only a little), I waited and finally I was sad. Nothing would grow back. Nothing. I just knew it.
We had about a week of steady rain and the pond filled with water. I knew for sure now everything was dead. Drowned ... As the water level approached overflowing, it occured to me I never allowed for heavy rain!!! Everything would wash out! Armed with a drill, I went out and drilled holes in the side of the pond about a half inch below the peat line. Within an hour, the pond was back to normal ... LESSON AND PART OF INSTALLATION INSTRUCTIONS - DRILL HOLES ALL ALONG THE EDGE OF YOUR POND APPROXIMATELY THREE INCHES FROM THE TOP ABOUT TWO INCHES APART.
The very nexy day, literally, I saw my first sundew beginning to unfurl. Within that same week, my pitcher plants began growing flower spikes and the the new pitchers were making an appearance!
My pond is three years old now and everything is still growing beautifully. This year I had an 18 inch drop in peat ... peat breaks down over time. See my photo albums for pics. I raised the peat up this year and replanted my plants. I also added some new stuff I haven't tried in this zone before. It's still summer ... so why am I already having nightmares about a green brown puddle next spring and why am I having panic attacks???? GEEZ!!!
Peace ~ Ang
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|05-18-2009, 01:53 AM||#2 (permalink)|
Re: Building a Bog Pond for carnivorous plants
What a fascinating idea, and it looks great! Thanks for sharing this with us.
Men In Nursing- "A Few Good Men"
"Gardening is the purest of human pleasures." - Francis Bacon
"If by a liberal, they mean someone who looks ahead and not behind; someone who welcomes new ideas without rigid reactions; someone who cares about the welfare of the people, their health, their housing, their schools, their jobs, their civil rights, their civil liberties; someone who believes we can break through the stalemate and suspicion that grips us; that is what they meant by a liberal, I am proud to be a liberal."
John F. Kennedy, September, 1960