The American Botinast 1922

Kevin Snively (
Fri, 23 Jun 1995 07:04:52 -0700 (PDT)

The following has been prepared and presented purely for
its historical content and entertainment value. It is not
being presented as a method or plan for the cultivation of
any plants.

And now for your Dining and Dancing Pleasure;

The American Botanist

Volume 28. Number 3
August, 1922

Gardening in an Artificial Bog
By Henry Bird, Rye N. Y.

Many of our native wild flowers take kindly to horticultural
uses and landscape architects are recommending natural plantings to a
degree never equaled before. To secure the acme of result in such way
requires much skill and experience, but the successes are being duly
appreciated. Not a few of the acid soil plants and shrubs are valuable
in this line, but they are tabu except when their transference happens
to be to a situation closely resembling their original habitats. The
true bog plants have much to recommend them in some instances but
success in their case requires an understanding that makes appeal to
botanists rather than others.
Mention of the successful transplanting of trailing arbutus
and northern pitcher plant recently in this magazine, indicates that
commendable human attribute which ever seeks to do the difficult and
unusual. The writer's efforts in the artificial acidulation of soils
has found an outlet in the production of an artificial bog which may
appeal to botanists and is not without artistic possibilities in its
horticultural development. Arbutus and _Sarracenia_, woodland orchid
types and the swamp _Helonias_, sundews and gentians, may be brought
together in the space of a few square feet in a manner one never sees
quite duplicated in nature. It is not difficult to grow all the
_Sarracenias_ in the latitude of New York City, and if a majority of
these species be represented and made to form a principal feature of
the planting, a pleasing result is assured. To be able to follow these
interesting types, have them bloom and exhibit their anomalous
features of entrapping insects while at the same time others find
immunity and their sole habitat within these wonderfully adapted
pitchers, in ones own garden, is a privilege, and the trouble in the
beginning is soon forgotten in subsequent gratification. The recent
work of Jones, Hapburn and MacFarlane in checking up the old and
adding new data on the many sided question involved in these plants
takes on a new meaning when such striking types may be seen standing
one beside the other. And of this category it is always of interest
to point to _Dionaea muscipula_, that plant characterized by Darwin as
the most wonderful in the world.
To enhance an extension of the environmental of ecological
possibilities of the suggested bog, the aim has been to produce an
acid content where such plants as _Sphagnums_ and sundews for most
types, and _Fissipes acaulis_ of drier ones, plants usually associated
with maximums, may get on with what may be there minimum requirements,
thus allowing a condition of limited acidity, open to a vast number of
While the plants themselves act in a large measure as
indicators of their acid requirements, the work of Wherry in computing
the entended data he has given us, simplifies and suggests much that
may be done in this line. It may seem anomolous to bring togather
plants redolent of moisture in juxtaposition with of thin soil or well
drained situations; to comingle habitats as divergent as Canada and
Florida, but it only demonstrates that moisture and temprature lose
much of their significance when a sufficent acidity is met.
An experimental bog may be no longer than an area six by nine
feet. It should copy the natural bog in being an entrapped drainage
area; be sheltered thru depression; secure an "acid" content by by the
use of tannin residues such as the commercial extracts of oak or
hemlock bark, as they come in concentrated form prepared for the
tanning trade.
These bark extracts dilute readily in water, contain a very
minute percentage of acid, but seem to develop a rather marked amount
as their constituents undergo chemical change in moist soil. Thru a
continuous supply of the tannin, favorable conditions arise for
growing the more pronounced types of so called acid soil plants, and
because of this, at a degree much less than that of their usual
habitats. That is, the tests by the Wherry method using the LaMotte
indicators, show we may grow arbutus, pink lady slipper and buckbean
for instance, at thirty points or less beyond neutral, whereas one
rarely finds a natural station for them except it be well beyond that
For such a six by nine planting we recommend the following
procedure. Select some situation in full sun, and excavate an area of
seven by ten feet down to a depth of three feet. At the bottom a
saucer of puddeled clay must be formed, two cubic feet of such
material being needed. Having donned rubber boots and moistening the
clay at intervals it can be trodden into proper consistency, about
that of stiff putty. It may then be shaped into a saucer with a
mason's trowel to a thickness of ten inches with edges arising as
perpendicularly as possible on the inside, and its finished periphery
conforming to the six by nine feet required. The edges should run up
so that there is a depth of about sixteen inches in the center of the
saucer, and when thoroughly dried out the basin may be filled with
sand and wood soil, two parts to one respectively, finishing the
surface so that the center is four inches lower than the sides. Since
this level is yet about a foot below the ground line an arrangement of
planking like a hot bed frame should be built to hold the adjoining
soil and keep out surface water. With such a wooden coping the
southern plant life can be protected by three hot bed sashes in
winter, and lath screens be applied in very hot midsummer weather or
on occasion of damaging windstorms.
In applying the bark extract, our plan is to sprinkle once a
week or oftenerat the start, using one half pint of the extract
diluted in ten or twelve gallons of water. If this quantity of extract
is mixed in two quarts of tepid water first, a better suspension is
obtained. Other waterings may be with the garden hose-the bog is never
expected to mantain standing water, but must always be thoroughly
Form its concave surface most moisture will accumulate at the
center of the bog, and here sundews, pitcher plants, ect., should be
placed, while the sides can support the dryer types. Of course water
that is decidedly limey should be avoided and no fertilizers
countenanced. the earthworms will soon become established and help
build up the humus, and in transplanting, the introduced plants should
have plenty of soil about their roots, thus bringing in bacteria that
thrive where tannin abounds.
As to adaptable plants, the list is large. Due to restricted
area, small and low-growing ones must be used and if in addition to a
botanical experiment the artistic possibilities be considered, the
_Orchidaceae_ at once suggest themselves. The more adaptable of these
like _Cypripedium parviflorum_ may luxuriate in two seasons as we have
seen, from a three crown plant to one supporting twenty six flowering
stems. When this and its immediate relatives hold sway, a floral
effect is easy. Following this array, the _Sarracenias_ become in
evidence, first with their peculiar flowers and for the remainder of
the seasion their pitchers form a dominating feature. _Drummondii_
and _Flava_ are very effective and though not so robust as in southern
climes, their pitchers attain a hight of nineteen to twenty inches at
Rye. A congeniality for for mosses and ferns abounds but we have
restricted the single species _Lorinseria areolata_ for a broder
fringe to hide the woodwork.
The following list of plants are those most conspicuous with
us, are luxuriating normally, have for the most part flowered and
shown a commingling of types which point to the extent acidity may
bridge differences of moisture and gaps of isotherms.

Sphagnums and other mosses _Limnorchis dilatata_
_Camptosorus rhizophyllus_ _Blephariglottis ciliaris_
_Lorinseria areolata_ _B. blepharigottis_
_Juncus effusus_ _Limodorum tubersum_
_Lycopodium complanatum_ _Ibidium strictum_
_L. lucidulum_ _I. gracile_
_L. olscurum_ _Helonias bullata_ (Delaware)
_Xyris sp._ _Clintonia borealis_
_Coptis trifolia_ _Hepatica acutiloba_ (Can.)
_Cypripedium reginae_ _Bicuculla cucullaria_
_C. parviflorum_ _Sarracenia purpurea_
_Fissipes acaulis_ _S. flava_ (S.C.)
_Galeorchis spectabilis_ _S. Drummondii_ (Fla.)
_Gymnadeniopsis integra_ _S. minor_ (S.C.)
_G. clavellata_ _S. rubra_
_Kalmi latifolia_ (seedlings) _S. psittacina (Fla.)
_Drosera rotundifolia_ (Fla.) _Gaylussacia brachycera_ (from
_D. filiformis, var traceyi_ (Ala.) primitive Penna. plant)
_Dionaea muscipula_ (Carolina) _Vaccinium sp._
_Silene caroliniana_ _Oxycoccus macrocarpus_
_Sedum trantum_ _Sabbatia sp._
_Heuchera sp._ _Gentiana crinita_
_Rubus hispida_ _Dasystephana andrewsii_
_Epigaea repens_ _Menyanthes trifoliata_
_Gaultheria procumbens_ _Mitchella repens_
_Viola lanceolata_ _Houstonia coerulea_
_Rhexia virginica_ _Shortia galacifolia_
_R. mariana_ _Ionactis linarifolius_
_Cimaphila maculata_ _? Coreopsis sp._ (adventive
_C. umbellata_ seedling from Fla.)