Plants for boggy shade

Series 2 of Great British Garden Revival has had many enjoyable episodes, and for me, the most inspiring was the one on last night (21st January) with Joe Swift encouraging us to include a Bog Garden in our gardens.

By accident I’ve ended up with a boggy area in my garden, which I’ve mentioned in May 2014, and my end of year review in December 2014. I’ve been trying to decide whether I want a boggy garden area or not, and last nights episode rather convinced me I should give it a go. So Joe Swift, you’ve got at least one person supporting your revival.

After the show ended, I re-watched and caught the names of the plants that I was interested in. I also sent a tweet to Fibrex Nurseries, knowing that one of their specialities is Ferns, and asked them for suggestions for a boggy shady area. As you can see below, quite a lot. I appreciate their suggestions; I’ve bought Pelargoniums from them too, another speciality, and along with their frequent helpful advice on Twitter, I recommend them to you.

So this is the list of plants for boggy shade that the Garden Revival and Fibrex Nurseries have suggested. I won’t be getting them all; I wish I had a garden big enough! But it’s a really great start from which I can investigate further and then decide what I think will work for my garden.

Plant suggestions from the Great British Garden Revival
Candelabra primulas

Dicksonia Antartica possibly too big for my garden, but one can dream


Cimicifuga ‘Brunette’, which I know as Actaea simplex (Atropurpurea Group) ‘Brunette’ and in fact already have near the boggy area. So 1 point to me 🙂

Kirengeshoma palmata a plant I’ve been admiring in other gardens for some time. Not sure if it might be too big for mine, so I will investigate further.

Ragged Robin Another plant I love and have, but not in the boggy area. So more seed of this possibly.

Actually, I should stop calling it the ‘boggy area’. Henceforth. it will be the ‘small boggy border’. Suggestions of better names appreciated!

Plant suggestions from Fibrex Nurseries
Matteuccia struthopteris (shuttlecock fern, ostrich feather fern)

Osmunda (esp regalia Purpurescens-Gorgeous). Another I already have but in a different part of the garden. I’ve been thinking about moving it, as I cannot admire it’s purple stems enough where it is. So it’s going into the small boggy border.

Onoclea sensibilis (sensitive fern, bead fern) red form

Onoclea sensibilis (sensitive fern, bead fern) green form

Dryopteris wallichiana

Athyriums in general, including the following that I liked from their pictures:
Athyrium filix-femina
Athyrium nipponicum pictum (Japanese Painted Fern)
Athyrium otophorum

Thelypteris palustris (Marsh Fern)

Thelypteris decursive-pinnata

Woodwardia was suggested, but Fibrex Nurersies advised they might get too big, so I need to research this one carefully
Woodwardia fimbriata (Giant Chain Fern)
Woodwardia radicans (European Chain Fern)

Dryopteris dilitata (Broad Buckler)

That’s a rather good list there. Note: I’ve listed the boggy-shady plants that I was particularly interested in and that would suit my garden. There are many more to suit all tastes and situations. Let the bog garden revival begin.

This episode of Great British Garden Revival will be available to UK viewers until c. mid February on BBC iPlayer: Bog gardens and soft fruit.

9 thoughts on “Plants for boggy shade”

  1. I missed it and need to get on to iplayer. About a quarter of my garden is permanent bog. It's good to think that we can make the most of the conditions that we've got and extend the range of plants. Many thanks for the list!

  2. What a great list! I guess the Dicksonia might… start out… small… ish? Initially?

    I'm a few episodes behind you, so along with your candelabra primulas can I suggest a yellow-flag Iris pseudacorus? Rachel de Thame told me only a few hours ago that it's happy getting its feet wet, more so even than most irises. Think of it as a kind of Lysichiton lantern, but without the smell: after all, your bog garden is quite close to your house!

  3. I love yellow-flag iris but am worried that my boggy area, sorry, small boggy border (that doesn't really work either) is a bit too shady. It doesn't get any sun until about mid-March, and then only for a short period, gradually increasing to several, morning, hours by May. I suppose I could try it on the edge and see, if I can work it in appropriately. Mmmm, much to think on and research.

  4. A good nursery for shady, boggy plants is Long Acre Plants, they only sell plants for shade and boggy areas. I have had plants from them for years and they have always been excellent.
    I was out last night, I hope the undergardener recorded the programme!

  5. Pauline: thanks for the suggestion, I'll look them up.

    Sion: I should have said that I currently have in the small boggy border the following plants, which seem to be doing ok:
    Persicaria affinis 'Superba'
    Astrantia major 'Hapsden Blood'
    Primula 'Guinevere'
    Ligularia 'The Rocket'

    I only planted the Ligularia later last year, so hoping to see it coming up happily & filling out this year. I'm avoiding Gunnera, just too big for my garden and I think it could be a bit of a thug. Which by the sound of your comment, it is!

  6. I have recorded all the episodes and haven’t been able to see more than 2 so far, but I love this series, gives me so many ideas but can be expensive – I bought 2 new roses after seeing Rachel de Thame’s part about roses! Your list is great, I have no boggy area in my garden but I have 3 Candelabra primulas happily growing in a shady area at the bottom of my garden. Looking forward to seeing your new area finished planted.


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