I have always been fascinated with water lilies. Many years ago as a child I visited a botanic garden in France and marvelled at the stunning colours of the tropical varieties in the glasshouses. Vivid pinks, striking purples and snow whites, seeming to float just above the water, these rare and exotic plants fascinated me no end. Even today I find water lilies one of the most mysterious and exotic flowers out there.
A slightly more showy flower yet also a native flower is the Nymphaea alba. A more traditional water lily shaped flower, the white native hardy waterlily is a pretty addition to the Irish pond and has gorgeous white flowers and handsome shiny green foliage. Seen here in the alpine garden at Lissadell house in Sligo, the Nymphaea alba comes into bloom from June to September and is also suitable for larger ponds or lakes. It is best grown in about a metre of water but in some places can grow in almost three metres of water, making it a great choice for lakes or ponds which fluctuate in water level somewhat. The large lily pads are also valuable for offering shade and protection to aquatic wildlife.
Choosing and planting your water lilies
Start your own waterlily collection
Follow in Monet’s footsteps and order your own varieties of water lily online at Latour-Marliac. There is a wide range of their stunning hardy hybrids available for purchase from their extensive catalogue and you can choose from many varieties of white, peach, yellow red and fuchsia as well as the elusive blue. The prices start at about €21-€24 for the white varieties and go all the way to €89-€99 for the more deeply coloured blues such as ‘Siam Purple’ or ‘Queen Sirikit’ www.latour-marliac.com
Future forests have a great range of water lilies in stock including the native ‘Alba’ deep rose red ‘Attraction and primrose yellow ‘Marliacea Chromatella’ varieties as well as the miniature ‘Pygmaea Rubra’ which is super for small water features and even a small water bowl. All varieties are available to order from the future forests website catalogue late Winter onwards.www.futureforests.ie
Did you know?Until relatively recently the option of including a true blue coloured beauty in European water gardens has been an unachievable dream. Then, in 2017 everything changed. Pairat Songpanich, a water lily farmer in Thailand invented the world’s first blue hardy waterlily, a plant which is now known as Nymphaea ‘Siam Purple’.