See what else Dave Brigante grows by clicking here.

 Pacific Northwest

Native ornamental aquatics and tried and true
performers top the list!

Go With What Works - Page 2

by Dave Brigante, Tualatin, Oregon
Click images to enlarge

Continued from Page 1

Lizard Tail (Saururus cernuus) is another dual-purpose plant. We use it as a ground cover of sorts, living year after year in the garden like any other perennial. It even survives under our mere four inches (10cm) of ice cover that we occasionally get some winters.

The hardy Lobelias (Lobelia cardinalis and L. siphilitica) add great summer color to our local ponderings. The Red Cardinal tolerates going through the winter submerged in water better than the Great Blue. As a terrestrial though, I’ve never seen a better survivor than ole blue.

Blue Himalayan Primrose (Primula denticulata) provides reliable spring color. Wow, what a show their blooms make when planted among marsh marigolds on the pond margins. Our other favorite is Pink Himalayan Primrose (Primula rosea 'Gigas') which has short flower stems topped with hot pink flowers. At ten to twelve inches (25 to 30 cm), they create a great foreground statement as spring arrives. Both of these are very easy to start from seed. 

Caltha and Primula denticulata

< ^ Primula denticulata

Primula rosea 'Gigas'

Of course, what pond would be complete without a few grasses to create some added texture variation? Here we use the ones that have been survivors through and through. Bowles Golden Sedge (Carex elata 'Bowles Golden') is a beauty! It has bright canary yellow leaf blades topped by soft white flower stocks. Mix it with the next one.

Black Flowering Sedge (Carex nigra) does have black sedge-like flowers but its best attribute is metallic blue foliage. These two sedges in close proximity blend extremely well. Now that we have yellow and blue, let’s throw in some forest green.

Carex elata 'Bowles Golden'

Cotton grass (Eriophorum angustifolium) really catches your eye. When the wispy cottony tufts appear in late spring to early summer they persist for months. This very hardy grass forms its own motion. When in full bloom, they look like they are always blowing in the wind. 

< Eriophorum angustifolium

The last of the ornamental aquatics I’d like to mention is Cattail (Typha minima and Typha latifolia variegata). I chose only two of the many varieties of cattails due to the special attributes of these. Tough little T. minima usually only reaches 2 to 2 ½ feet (0.6 to 0.8 m) high, sporting very rounded catkins in the summer.

Typha minima

Variegated Cattail is a showstopper with its green and white leaves contrasting so well with its large cinnamon-brown cattails. Both varieties easily survive outdoors in the pond for the winter. Both of them work as terrestrial plants, too.

 Typha latifolia variegata

This wraps up the synopsis of which aquatic pond and bog plants grow best here in the Pacific Northwest’s Willamette area. I could present many, many more, but I chose these as much for their reliability as for their stunning impact on an aquatic setting.

Plan your pond or bog plant list with "good bones" to start with, using outstanding performers suitable for where you live. They keep your water garden adding beauty to the surroundings year after year. You, too, can have a bit of Pacific Wonderland in your own back yard. 

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