Maybe one day my bog garden will look as good, although on a much smaller scale, as the one we visited the other day at Marwood Hill Garden. The garden covers 20 acres altogether and contains 3 lakes with streamside planting set in a north Devon valley along with herbacious borders and a large rock garden.
The gardens were started in the 1950s by the late Dr. Jimmy Smart VMH. The Victoria Medal of Honour is awarded by the RHS to those who make an outstanding contribution to horticulture. I remember him zooming round on his buggy when we last visited. Dr. Smart died in 2002 and the garden is now owned and maintained by his nephew and a band of volunteers working with a head gardener.
The large bog garden beside the lakes and streams provides just the right conditions for moisture loving plants and they hold the National Collection of Astilbes, Iris Ensata and Tulbaghia. This was the obvious place to come, when I decided that I needed another Astilbe for my much smaller bog garden and we were lucky in that the primulas were still flowering and the astilbes had just started.
There are a few sculptures in the garden, including these realistic geese in the stream.
A very tranquil area way down the valley, a grove of birch trees.
Beyond the birch trees, more stunning planting with Primula viallii in the foreground and toning candelabra primulas in the background. Viallii start out with their poker flowers all red when in bud, but change to mauve when the flowers open. All this planting was very new indeed when we last visited, lovely to see how it has all come together like a tapestry.
A lovely little bridge to take us over to the other side of the stream to wend our way back with a beautiful planting of astilbes.
Lots of wild foxgloves on all the banks further away from the water.
A collection of various Eucalyptus planted up the hill away from the stream. 10 yrs ago, these trees were so tiny, barely 6ft tall, what a difference!
A statue of the late Dr. Jimmy Smart, enjoying the view down the valley with his beautiful streamside planting.
Large groups of rodgersias accompany the primulas.
More sculpture on the island in the centre of the upper lake. Lots of ducks and moorhens were on the island and yes, it was still raining!
The early astilbes have started flowering. This area will look fantastic in a couple of weeks when they are all flowering at once.
And even more primulas, some of them have grown so tall with all our extra rain. On the right is a pink ensata iris, very pretty.
There were large clumps of white rosebay willow herb, Epilobium angustifolium f. album, which looked very healthy. We have a very pathetic few plants here that wander around each year, never coming up in the same place twice. These were planted at the side of the stream, I never realised that they like moist soil, they are obviously looking for our underground stream, must move them to the back of the boggy border!
And even more primulas! The tall yellow ones must be P. sikkimensis I think or maybe P. florindae.
A super planting of large hostas at the head of the first lake, no slug damage here, but further down by the stream, they certainly had a problem.
A last look at primulas before making our way round to the walled garden where the nursery is. You didn’t really think I would leave without buying something did you? One white Iris ensata, one astilbe and one candelabra primula just like the one in the foreground, which I was told would seed itself about, coming up in all the colours of the rainbow! It was lovely seeing the primulas and astilbe in such numbers, I just had to remember that their bog garden is about 20 times the size of our whole garden, but maybe one day, I will have our border bursting at the seams with colourful primulas and astilbes, just like theirs.