After that I settled down to weeding the bog bed, which has ceased to be a bog. A few patches are dampish, but much of it is dry underfoot. At least this means I can get at it to weed it without wading around ankle deep in mud, and don't lift a fistful of soil with every handful of weeds. I planned to start at the bottom of the slope and work my way uphill, so that I could begin watering the area I'd weeded without it running into the parts I had yet to do and was about to kneel on.
I hauled the hose around to the bottom of the back garden, but was distracted from watering the bog bed immediately by the spectacle of the Hydrangea aspera 'Mauvette' by the ditch which had started to collapse, big furry leaves hanging down like dead rabbit's ears. The pink lacecap next to it looked poised to go the same way, and the leaves of the Pulmonaria rubra in front of them lay shrivelled and flat on the ground, revealing various odd spikes of horsetail and bramble stems which had been concealed up to that point. The bog had to wait until I'd rescued the hydrangeas and pulmonaria, and had a quick go at the brambles.
There is a generous crop of Primula bulleyana seedlings, which is a good thing since I forgot to save any seed last year and have none coming on in pots. I did a fairly thorough job of sifting out anything that wasn't P. bulleyana the last time I was working down there, so went through them again teasing out any nettles and other unwanted inhabitants that escaped last time, or have come up since. Once I have got the area rehydrated I might try moving some of them to fill the gaps where they have not seeded, though it might of course be that they don't like those areas for some reason. The books say that this delightful apricot flowered candelabra primula should self seed where happy, and I was disappointed when in my first spring after making the initial planting I didn't seem to find any babies at all.
My other mission in that corner was to thin the yellow stemmed bamboo, remove the canes that had fallen outwards from the main clump, and remove the lower leaves from the remaining stems so that we can see the yellow canes more clearly, which is part of the point of the bamboo, and to allow more light through to the bog planting. Bamboos like reliable moisture, but will not grow in a bog, and the adjacent clump of black stemmed bamboo was almost entirely killed when the water table rose beneath it, only a little clump on fractionally higher and dryer ground surviving. Its yellow stemmed neighbour, although planted no more than six or eight feet away, was outside the zone affected by the unexpected welling up of ground water, and thrived.
Indeed, it thrived a great deal too well, and I had to chop out great unwanted tracts of it with a pick axe. Its name is Phyllostachys aureosulcata 'Aureocaulis', and while I must have formed the impression from the label that it was reasonably clump forming, I now know from personal experience that it is a runner, at least if it likes you. After reducing the diameter of the clump I surrounded it with a couple of rolls of galvanised lawn edging, buried with a couple of inches remaining above ground, and this has almost succeeded in containing it so far. One cane is arising from the wrong side of the edging, and as soon as the herbaceous plants in front of it have died down for the winter I'll be in there again with the pick axe. At least having an edging gives you a demarcation line to work to, and you know that anything outside that area must be dealt with, so the bamboo can't expand gradually by stealth. The lateral shoots ran very close to the surface when I was digging it out before, so I hoped that a fairly shallow barrier would do the job.
As I weeded and trimmed, the plants in the rest of the bog bed began to collapse. The big leaves of Ligularia flopped, while the Rodgersia foliage descended stiffly to the ground, and the Persicaria signalled that they were not happy, leaves puckering and stems drooping. Purple variegated leaf P. microcephala 'Red Dragon' should be good for weeks of display yet, as should P. ampexicaulis 'Firetail' whose red flowers were thick with bees today, so I don't want either of them finishing the season prematurely. The Thalictrum, having set masses of seed, are simply beginning to die back. There wasn't time to give everything a turn with the hose, but I did what I could, and will see where I've missed tomorrow by the patches of still drooping foliage.