Jewels From the Water – the Waterlily

I am fascinated by water gardens

written by: Brad Austin | 27-05-2020

Brad Austin - Author on Thursd. - Waterlily - Header

Now that the weather is getting warmer, ponds are springing into growth. I have always been fascinated with water gardens and the beauty of waterlily plants. The flowers come in many colors and some plants have interesting variegated foliage.

Nymphaea Colorado

While living in Los Angeles, my waterlily – Nymphaea ‘Colorado’ was in bloom for almost 10 months of the year and had the most beautiful fragrance. This is a hardy waterlily that can easily withstand much colder winters than California.

Victoria Waterlily

One of my “Bucket List” dream plants to grow is the elusive Victoria Waterlily, Victoria amazonica. After teaching floral design classes at Longwood Gardens last year, I was invited to wade into the famous water ponds to see my dream plant up close. There are two different species and a wonderful hybrid between them known as Victoria ‘Longwood Hybrid’.

Brad Austin - Author on Thursd. - Giant waterlily
Brad with Matthew Ross- Director of Continuing Education Longwood Gardens.

Kennet Square Gardens

Tim Jennings, Senior Gardener responsible for Longwood’s outdoor Waterlily Display answered some questions about what the requirements are for creating the perfect environment for this waterlily plant. The world-class gardens are in Kennett Square, Pennsylvania. If you have the opportunity to visit, you will be amazed at the beauty.

These tropical waterlilies typically only seen in botanical gardens are the world’s largest. Their leaves or paddles can grow up to 3 meters in diameter with an upturned lip.

Giant White Night

The giant white night-blooming flowers open to 40 cm in diameter. They have the most wonderful fragrance of pineapple.
The flowers are remarkably interesting as well. Pollinated by beetles, the first night they open, they present as female, the following night they change color to pink and present as male to ensure cross-pollination.

Brad Austin - Author on Thursd. - happy with Giant waterlily

My dream to grow this plant has a chance to happen now that I am relocating to Mérida, Yucatán, México. We are in the planning stages to design a pool to accommodate one as the jewel of the garden. I look forward to unlocking the secrets of this amazing plant.

See you next time,

Brad Austin - Author on Thursd. Profile
Brad Austin

Brad Austin

When Brad isn't busy creating exquisite arrangements for his clients, he designs gardens, studies photography, and enjoys botanical illustration. "I have always been amazed at how the natural world works, how the smallest detail interconnects with everything around it," Brad says. "My enthusiasm for nature is infused into my work. It is my calling, and it is apparent in everything I do."

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