Back in Jay Sifford’s Beautiful Bog Gardens

Today we’re exploring more of Jay Sifford‘s lesser-seen back garden. We’ve toured and featured the award-winning landscape designer’s immaculate stylized meadow front garden, but now we’re wondering why the blooming bogs at the back of his home aren’t getting more attention.

In case you missed his description yesterday:

Many are familiar with my septic drain field turned stylized meadow in the front yard of my house called Rhodwood, which is located in the western North Carolina mountains at 3300 feet. We were Zone 6b; now we’re 7a. Fewer have seen the back garden, accessed by a series of switchback steps. This area is comprised of a large rhododendron maximum forest with a high tree canopy, complete with two natural bogs and a stream with rapids.

The natural plant palette contains mostly spring ephemerals that are gone by the end of June, just about the time the front garden peaks. Hundreds of native skunk cabbage (Symplocarpus foetidus, Zones 4–7), Trillium sulcatum (southern red trillium, Zones 4–7), Veratrum, and marsh marigolds (Caltha palustris, Zones 3–7) form the framework. My goal was to embellish this natural wonderland with native and nonnative plants that look at home in the space.

In bog #1, I added the ostrich ferns (Matteuccia struthiopteris, Zones 3–7). They are happy in the muck!

close up of trillium sulcatum in bloomTrillium sulcatum (southern red trillium, Zones 4–7) naturally occurs here by the hundreds.

close up of pink Trillium grandiflorum flowerTrillium grandiflorum pink form (Trillium grandiflorum f. roseum, Zones 4–8)

close up of Trillium cuneatum in bloomTrillium cuneatum (little sweet Betsy, Zones 5–8). I’ve planted hundreds of additional trilliums to complement what was already here.

close up of variegated podophyllum leavesI love podophyllums! This is Podophyllum ‘Kaleidoscope’ (Zones 6–9).

close up of white shooting stars flowersIn addition to shooting stars (Dodecatheon meadia, Zones 4–8), white form (shown here), I also planted the pink form.

close up of yellow primulas close up of bright purple primulas
bright pink primulas surrounded by lush foliage close up of bright pink primula flowers

I always wanted to grow primulas, but couldn’t when I lived in Charlotte. Here are four that are blooming now.

close up of small Asarum canadensis flowerThis Asarum canadensis (Canadian wild ginger, Zones 4–6) flower makes it look like a Dracula orchid to me.

bright red and green blown glass leaves in the bog gardenGlass leaves by Jesse Kelly are at home in bog #2.


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