April 27th, 2008
Bog Garden Comes to Life

Zanthan Gardens bog garden
2008-04-27. Taken after much of the water had soaked in…poor light and a dead camera battery kept me from getting a good shot of how it looked at its worst–the lawn was completely under water.

Imagining the bog garden is a much easier when we get a month’s worth of rain in about 15 minutes. Even without any roof runoff the holes I’ve been digging to collect water fill quickly. The water overflows into the lawn and is slowed temporarily by the berm before rushing around it and flooding the garage.

Note to self: dig deeper holes.

This morning’s downpour was intense. I cringe to see all that precious water running off. My rainbarrels were already full from the rain the other day.

Note to self: get bigger rainbarrels.

My rain-catching terraces are having some effect in slowing down the runoff. The amount of rain pouring off the place where the roof forms a valley by the front door looked like someone had opened a fire hydrant. I think it would have overwhelmed any guttering system. Must check to see how VBDB’s new rainwater collection system handled this storm.

by M Sinclair Stevens in Austin, Texas

12 Responses to post “Bog Garden Comes to Life”

  1. From Cindy, Katy:

    Mss, I feel for you. You should see my cul-de-sac during a big downpour … I call it Lake Langton. Your mention of gutters reminds me: I need to have Phil clean the front gutter. Even with leaf screens, there’s a fern and some unidentified plant growing in it! Note to self: nag DH about gutter.

    This happens every big storm so I wasn’t surprised. I’m pretty happy to see that most of my ideas for retaining water are working…I just need to think bigger. After I have all the caliche dug out of the someday-to-be bog garden (and moved out from where it was dumped uphill from the house), I can put French drains around the garden house. I want to put a rainwater collection system in, as well. Anyway, the storm reinforced my feeling that I’m on the right track. — mss

  2. From bill/prairie point:

    We had a big downpour Wednesday night also. Our road was closed by flooding on the east side, which required a 20-mile detour to get anywhere east of where we live. The water was still over the road Saturday morning but trucks could get through.

    If I had a bog I would plant some of those carnivorus pitcher plants I saw last week in east Texas.

    Your new place seems pretty isolated by bad weather. I remember your photo of your river of a driveway (or road in front of your house?) Don’t they always tell you guys up north Texas way not to drive through water on the road? Or is that only if there is a creek? They’re always fishing motorists out of the creeks down here. Some go around the barriers the police put up. Some never get out alive. — mss

  3. From Deirdre (Texas):

    I had major hail damage to my plants and lost a lot of new spring flower buds…sniff sniff (still feeling sorry for myself) lol!

    I really need to get some rain barrels too. I have been looking for some large ones.

    Sorry to read about your storm damage; the flooding at your Mom’s house is so depressing. And I didn’t suffer any hail. The storms always seem more fierce up in north Texas. They’ve lost some of their punch by the time they reach Austin. — mss

  4. From Frances:

    Your berm is such a good idea, as are all the other notes to yourself about catching the rainwater. The valley of the roofs is a problem here also, although our continuing drought lessens the excess water. Our roof is metal and that speeds the water with a tremendous force to that corner. It can fill a garbage can easily in one storm. I like the pitcher plant idea from Bill.

    We’ve always had problem with drainage but last year’s construction has made it worse. This storm gave me a good chance to study where the water flowed and where it collected–interesting info for making future adjustments to the plan. Our roof is metal, too. It’s amazing how much rain collects in such a short time. Now to capture it! — mss

  5. From cindee:

    Oh I love a good spring rain!!! I bet it was really something!!! We have had a few heavy spring rains here too. Finally our new roof will be put on tomorrow!!! Its been covered in tarps since January!!! I am really ready to see the tarps gone and the new roof on(-: I hope your gardens didn’t get damaged from the rains!

    It was one of the heaviest rains in my memory but it was very short-lived…only about 15 minutes for the downpour and about 45 minutes total of rain. — mss

  6. From Mr. McGregor's Daughter:

    I have bog-envy – do you think you’ll have any frogs move in?

    We’ve had a big bullfrog serenading us for the last couple of weeks. I think the goldfish keep eating his spawn, though. Last year we were more successful with the Gulf Coast toad spawn. That was before we got goldfish. — mss

  7. From Gail:

    I used to dread the rain, seriously, even now after much work to correct the rain water runoff problem the memories of bad rain experiences keep me from being able to completely relax and enjoy a good spring storm. I like your idea of a bog garden.

    How can I attract frogs to the garden?

    I don’t know anything about frogs, really; even my bullfrog is probably a toad. All my success has been accidental. However, toad, small snakes, and lizards all returned to my garden a couple of years after I moved in primarily, I believe, because I do not use pesticides. They like to hang out in the compost and eat the bugs there. Also I have some wild places with tall grass-like plants. The lizards especially like to make homes in my stacks of firewood–so I’d suggest stacking some old logs. The toads/frogs were the first thing to move into the pond, even before we started putting plants in it. — mss

  8. From Pam/Digging (Austin):

    We got 2.75 inches here in north-central Austin between Friday and Saturday, along with a pretty good smattering of hail. Of course, I had just succumbed to the need to water on Thursday. Aargh. I am wishing for a big cistern like VBDB’s too. My two little rain barrels filled up in about 30 seconds.

    Mine do too when the water is gushing like someone opened a fire hydrant! I was surprised by Frances’s remark that she could fill a garbage can in one storm. I have one 75 gallon and one 80 gallon rainbarrel and they were both overflowing within minutes and they don’t even have downspouts feeding them. We had less than 15 minutes of hard rain Saturday morning and at least six inches of standing water against the house. — mss

  9. From karen:

    Golly! I thought Austin was dry. Much sympathy.
    You probably don’t want to be bothered with this right now, but I had to pick on somebody!
    I’ve tagged you on my blog, so you’re it. Hope you want to play.

    Cheers, Karen

  10. From Nelumbo, South Carolina:

    I hope you will post more about your bog! I have long been interested in moving some carnivorous plants outside.

    I will as I build it. Now I’m just observing how the water flows and settles during a hard rain. — mss

  11. From Ki:

    I saw the segment on “This Old House” when they were doing a remodeling job in Austin. I remember one of the guys commenting on the huge size of the rain gutters which are about 10x the size of the puny ones we have! They seemed to be about a foot in all dimensions. I guess you have gully washers there.

    I always have wanted to create a bog garden next to the pond to take up the overflow but thinking about all the work I’d have to do to maintain it ended that idea – mercifully. I can still wistfully imagine some horse tail rushes next to the pond though.

    That’s my plan for the bog garden, too, to hold the pond overflow. Unfortunately the guy built the pond so it overflows under the deck where the water is trapped by the concrete footing, creating a mosquito haven. Brilliant, huh? I can’t build the bog garden until after the screened porch is rebuilt. — mss

  12. From Robin at Bumblebee:

    I really must get those rain barrels in this year. This is a good reminder.

    And I had never heard of a bog garden…Learn something new every day around here.

    Robin at Bumblebee

    I think bog gardens and rain gardens are similar but now I’ll have to do a longer post on them to find out. Bog gardens are generally built next to ponds to hold plants that like wet feet but aren’t true water plants. Karen, at Savannah Garden Diary wrote about hers. I think I first read about bog gardens from the Pond Lady, Jan Goldfield, when I was researching my pond. — mss