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Plants & Gardens Blog

Return of the Water-Lilies

Water-lilies and other aquatic plants are returning to the Lily Pools.

The pools were drained last year for upgrades including new waterproofing and plumbing fixtures. Now a brand-new planting of water-lilies and sacred lotuses, both of which bloom throughout summer, is underway. The current planting, which received funding from the Stanley Smith Horticultural Trust, contains mostly winter-hardy plants that should be able to remain in place all year. A variety of cultivars in different colors and sizes has been included.

Chicken wire will help protect the young plants from hungry turtles, ducks, and other animals. Photo by Michael Stewart.

“There will also be a larger display of aquatic perennials and annuals, providing additional interest and textures to the pools,” says Wayken Shaw, curator.

Gardeners install water-lilies on Lily Pool Terrace. Photo by Michael Stewart.

The new collection should create a nice colorful display this year, but will take some time to establish. Aquatic plants tend to emerge later in the season than plants in the ground. They also require specialized conditions like dense clay and heavy fertilization and are susceptible to being snacked upon by wildlife.

“Maybe the biggest hurdle in establishing an aquatic garden is protecting the plants from getting eaten and decimated by ducks, geese, turtles, fish, etc. Even once the plants are established, they aren’t immune from hungry animals. They are just better able to survive and rebound,” says Shaw.

More plants will be added this week and will bloom soon after.

Sarah Schmidt is a former editor of BBG's digital editorial content and the Guides for a Greener Planet handbook series.

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