I used to have a small pond in my back yard, mainly for water lilies and a few small fish. It got to be a problem because raccoons would get into it at night and have parties. They would tear up all the plants and terrorize the fish. I don't have a really good photo of what the pond looked like at that time. All I have is this photo that I took when a small hawk (probably Cooper's) took a bath in the pond.
So I decided to construct a new pond, which I am still working on. I decided to make the old pond into a bog plant area where I could try a number of native wetland plants. The bog area will be immediately adjacent to one end of the new pond and they will both be edged with flagstone so that they will look like they belong together.
Step 1 was to punch a few holes in the rubber pond liner so there would be some drainage. The next step was to fill it in with dirt. Below is how it looked full of dirt but not yet planted. There are just a couple of rush-type plants off to the sides.
As with the rest of my garden, I want to use plants that are native to California, and ideally San Diego County. Looking at the types of plants I would want to include in the bog, I determined that I would need plants that are found in riparian and freshwater marsh areas. To get a list of candidate species, I went to a web site that I use often, calflora.org. This web site lists every species of plant that is native to California, as well as many common non-native weeds. The site includes links to photos for most of the species (from a related website called calphotos.berkeley.edu), and the list is searchable in various ways. I did a search by "community", specifying wetland-riparian plants native to San Diego County. The search returned 588 candidate species.
I had to narrow down my search quite a bit to those species available at native plant nurseries. I also did not want any plants that would get to tall or too broad (such as willows or mulefat) or any that would spread so much that they would take over the whole area (such as bulrushes or cattails). Lastly, I wanted a mix of foliage plants and showy flowering plants. I finally arrived at 9 species that I planted for now. I will add more next year, but these are the ones I wanted to start with. I'll let them get established before adding anything else. They 9 that I planted are:
- San Diego Sedge (Carex spissa)
- Santa Barbara Sedge (Carex barbarae) - despite the name, it is found throughout much of California, including the San Diego region
- Iris leaved Rush (Juncus xiphioides)
- Common Bog Rush (Juncus effusus)
- Cardinalflower (Lobelia cardinalis)
- Scarlet Monkeyflower (Mimulus cardinalis)
- Seep Monkeyflower (Mimulus guttatus)
- Yerba Mansa (Anemopsis californica)
- Stream Orchid (Epipactis gigantea)
I waited for winter rains to soak the area thoroughly. Then I bought my plants and installed them. Here is what they look like as of March 2013, after being in the ground a couple of months.
In the foreground are the Lobelia Cardinalis. They will produce red flowers later in Spring. The bushier, leafy plants are the Mimulus. In the center is Carex spissa. To the right of that is Juncus Xiphioides. Along the right side are 3 Carex barbarae. Three is probably too many for this space, but for some reason I bought 3 so I planted them all. In the back is Juncus effusus. The Carex and Juncus do not have showy blooms, but their foliage and seed heads are interesting. The two Mimulus species have red and yellow flowers respectively. I have one guttatus in a container that has bloomed already (below).
The Epipactis is not showing above ground because it has a fairly lengthy dormancy period each year, and in my limited experience it doesn't show above ground until late Spring. However, it is worth the wait because the flowers are small but exquisite. It is one of the few native California members of the orchid family.
I will sprinkle a little water on this area a few times a week, and I think that will be enough to keep the plants happy. In my area (Encinitas) it does not get especially hot during the summer and humidity remains fairly high, so I don't think I will have too much water loss during the summer.
I'll post updates on the bog area as the plants begin to flower. When I complete the new pond, I will show how the two areas relate to each other.