Gardening Articles

Aquatics Water Lilies

The native Water Lilies that abound in many of our lakes, ponds, and rivers, are more or less familiar to all. They grow up year after year through the placid waters, unfolding their blossoms of spotless purity to the silent stars, and after

a short while, disappear, to return at another favorable season. The American Water Lily, Nymphaea odorata, has flowers of a yellowish-white, and an odor that is peculiar and pleasant. The size of the flowers averages three to four inches across. This is by no means the only aquatic lily, for we have in cultivation quite a number of other choice and striking species quite different in leaf and flower from N. odorata. Among the most noticeable of these is, N. rubra, a native of India, which has flowers of a rosy-red, measuring from eight to ten inches in diameter, with scarlet stamens; the large leaves of this Water Lily turn to a gorgeous crimson color in the fall. There are also N. Devonensis, bearing flowers of a brilliant red, which often measure from twelve to fourteen inches across, are star-shaped, and very beautiful. N. caerulea, a native of Egypt, has light blue flowers, and light green leaves; the flowers are very fragrant. N. flava has yellowish flowers, sometimes beautifully variegated with brown. There is quite a number of other interesting species, but those already mentioned are the best. The cultivation of Water Lilies is very simple, they can be grown with success in tubs or tanks, or in little artificial ponds, constructed to accommodate them. A hogshead sunk in the ground in the open air, in some sunny location, will answer to grow them in. Fill a hogshead half full of the compost recommended for aquatics, then set the plants in the compost, press down firmly, and fill the cask with pure water. If possible connect a flow and waste pipe with the barrel, to keep the water fresh, as this is highly essential in growing these plants in this manner. A Mr. Sturtevant, we believe, now of Burlington Co., N. J., is an enthusiast on the cultivation of Water Lilies, and no doubt an excellent authority, He has written some valuable hints on the culture of aquatics, from which we are tempted to quote. He says, "I will add here a few words on the possibilities of aquatic gardening. One argument in favor of cultivating tropical lilies in the open air is, that larger leaves and flowers are obtained, and in case of the colored kinds, greater depth of color than when under glass." And again, "Let us suppose that you wish to have an aquatic garden, fifty, sixty, or a hundred feet in diameter. We will not build it in the stiff form of a circle or oval. There is a small bay, across which we will throw a rustic bridge to a peninsula: somewhere on the margin we will build a rustic summer-house." * * * * * "Now let us suppose that all has been planted, and come to mid-summer perfection. Some morning, before the night-blooming lilies (there are varieties that bloom only in the night), have taken their mid-day sleep, let us ascend the tower, and take a view of the picture." He graphically describes the beauty of this miniature Eden, with all its rare and beautiful tropical plants, which certainly must be enchanting for any who love the beautiful. It is surprising that many people of ample means, and with good facilities for growing aquatics, and who have a taste for flowers, do not take more interest in domesticating these plants. Any one who keeps a gardener can have a very fine show of these beautiful flowers, and a comparatively small outlay will bring good results in a short time. Let those who can, try it.

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