Lilies Water Gardens News

Moorhens

Moorhens

For those of you that are lucky enough to be proud owners of larger areas of water, there is a water bird that you should welcome with open arms should you be lucky enough of course, if they decide to make your back garden their home and breeding ground.  Moorhens also known as Marsh Hens, Latin name Gallinula Chloropus,  are black coloured water birds with red beaks.  They are similar to and are often confused with Coots that have white beaks.  Moorhens are solitary birds that are well adapted to a life on ponds, canals, wetlands, woodland marshes, and water meadows.  Their loud single calls are pleasing to the ears and can often be heard throughout the spring and summer  Having long legs and large webbed feet, they are perfectly designed for fast swimming , walking and running over and amongst floating pond vegetation.  Moorhens eat a wide and varied array of vegetation as well as small fish, crustaceans, amphibians and a vast range of insects.Moorhen eggsBaby MoorhensAdult Moorhen

 

Breeding Season

Marsh Hens start constructing nests as early as late February and sometimes even earlier.  The nests are raised above emerged water plants and are constructed out of rushes and other pond vegetation.  They usually have two broods a year, one in early spring March – April, and the second in July  – August, though occasionally there is a third brood.  On average there are 5-8 eggs laid in a single nest, and the incubation period is 19-22 days.  Unfortunately, baby Moorhens have a lot of predators so have a low survival rate.  Foxes, Herons and large predatory fish like fresh water Pike, will all take baby Moorhens for a quick and easy snack.

 

MOOR MOORHENS PLEASE!

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Persicaria Amphibia-Amphibious Bistort

 

Persicaria Amphibia – Amphibious Bistort

Persicaria  Amphibia also known as Polygonum Amphibian, is a terrestrial native plant that can be found growing wild all over the UK.  It thrives as a deep water submerged plant and can be found in natural clay bottomed ponds, lakes, rivers, ditches and manmade canals, but being terrestrial, (growing on both land and water), it will also grow quite happily in marshes, water meadows and other damp and boggy places, hence the common name, Amphibious Bistort.Persicaria Amphibia LEGAL

Polygonum Amphibian is easy to grow and does best when planted straight into natural clay bottomed areas of water. It is so adaptable it can also be grown easily in man-made, lined fibreglass ponds as long as it’s planted into large aquatic baskets of 24cm in diameter or wider.   It favours a water depth of 12-24 inches, but will also grow quite happily in water that is up to 4 ft in depth, and has even been known on rare occasions, to grow in water that is up to 8 ft in depth. Once planted, Polygonum Amphibian will establish itself quickly and within a few seasons, produce an abundance of cheery looking, attractive, elongated floating leaves and produce very pretty pink flowers that will stand up out of the water during the months of June until September.

However, this highly underestimated plant has got more going for it than just pretty flowers.  Its elongated floating leaves make excellent water surface cover that will block out sunlight and therefore help reduce spring and summer Algae blooms.  Also, this plant is excellent at removing nitrates from the water which in turn, will help to combat those dreaded Algae and Blanket Weed problems.  Its floating leaves will attract our lovely spring spawning Toads, offer a valuable hiding place for small fish and various other wildlife from any predators, and last but not least, it’s beautiful flowers will attract our hard working bees and other pollinating insects.  So, this plant really does have something for everyone.

 

Summary

If you have water in your garden or work with water in a natural environment, Persicaria Amphibium surely deserves a home with you.  Sometimes a forgotten and very under-rated plant, Persicaria definitely deserves much more recognition and certainly has earned its place at our nursery.  Persicaria is available to buy from Lilies Water Gardens www.lilieswatergardens.co.uk throughout the spring and summer.

 

 

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Callitriche-For Oxygenating and Attracting Newts

 

Callitriche – For Oxygenating and Attracting Newts

Callitriche is a submerged aquatic but also terrestrial plant that grows under water to a water depth of 60 cm.  It adapts to growing in shallow and moist margins, where it favors clay and silt. There are many wild species that are very similar in appearance and they can be found growing full sun, partial and/or full shade, all over the UK in ponds, lakes, canals, marsh lands, streams and ditches.  Callitriche also known as ‘Water Starwort’, has small, round, bright green leaves that change shape on the water surface where it puts on a display of rosette clusters of star shaped leaves that float on the water.  The fresh green looking leaves are Evergreen and look great throughout the autumn and winter.  Its under water leaves are favored in spring by Palmate, Smooth and Great Crested Newts that lay and wrap their eggs in the leaves for protection.

VLUU L200 / Samsung L200

 

Uses in the Water Garden

Starwort is a native plant and very popular with many water gardeners and for lots of good reasons.   It’s an excellent for wildlife gardens and attracting wildlife.  Being adaptable in the wild to varied water levels, this plant is Terrestrial and therefore, transforms itself in late spring and early summer where it takes on a completely different growing habit of low, dense, creeping mats of foliage.   Starwort is therefore, an excellent pond edging plant for all pond visitors that need a drink and a safe entrance and exit out of the water.  The underwater growth also makes excellent protection and a safe hiding place for small fish and all kinds of underwater pond life.  Finally, Starwort is a fantastic oxygenating and nitrate removing plant.  Some say that it can only be found growing in clear water, but that would be because it has created that crystal clear water.  We carry two distinct species of Callitriche for sale on our nursery www.lilieswatergardens.co.uk.   For more information and images, please click on the links below.

VLUU L200 / Samsung L200

Callitriche Stagnalis (more star shaped leaves than Hamulata)

Callitriche Hamulata (more dense and compact out of water)

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Common Reed Bunting

Common Reed Bunting

Common Reed Buntings unfortunately, are not so common nowadays and are on the British wild bird conservation list, but if you live near water or have water in your garden, you may be lucky enough to see these precious birds.  Reed Buntings can be found in various habitats but favour wetlands, marshes, ponds, ditches, and streams where they can nest amongst reeds and rushes in safety from predators however, they will also nest on the ground especially in the banks of streams and ditches.Common_reed_bunting_(emberiza_schoeniclus)_m

Also known by their Latin name Emberiza Schoenicius, Reed Buntings are small Sparrow sized birds that mainly feed on seeds, chickweed and insects, but they also have a taste for Oilseed Rape seeds and favour Oilseed Rape fields as a good breeding ground.  Being mainly a wetland bird, they are often pursued by bird watchers in the Norfolk Broads.

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Aquatic Baskets and Pond Plants

 

Aquatic Baskets and Pond Plants

Unfortunately, there is a lot of misleading information all over the internet about certain sized pre-planted aquatic baskets being sold as Pond Ready and the baskets not requiring  aquatic liners Therefore, I feel as a grower that I need to provide some accurate information and explanations!

 

Misleading

(Aquatic baskets don’t need liners!!!)

 

Correction

If you are planting into aquatic baskets in any situation it is essential that you use liners.  Any baskets planted without liners, will lose half the soil content within one season due to the movement of the water from pond pumps, waterfalls, moving fish, and even the wind rippling the water surface.  Pond plants require a stable footing and their roots tucked in tight under silt, clay or aquatic soil.   If the soil has been washed or eroded away from around their delicate roots, the pond plant will grow weak or simply float away.  For best results line your baskets with Cloth LinersInlegdoekjes sfeer

Round 17 cm baskets = 45cm cloth liners

Round 23 cm baskets = 45cm cloth liners

Square 24 cm baskets = 45cm cloth liners

Oxygenating 20 cm baskets =  45cm cloth liners

Square 29 cm baskets = 60cm cloth liners

Contour baskets = 60cm cloth liners

Extra Large Square 40cm baskets = 90cm cloth liners

 

 

 Misleading

(Plants sold as ‘Pond Ready’ in small aquatic baskets!!!)

 

Correction

With the exception of a handful of miniature species and cultivars, the vast majority of Pond plants that are sold in 9cm or 11cm size aquatic baskets are ‘NOT POND READY’!  Plants offered in any size smaller than a round 17cm aquatic basket, will fall over or blow off of your marginal shelving in the first gust of wind that blows their way.  Aquatic plants need room to grow and there is just not enough room for them to establish in 9cm or 11cm baskets so, they are therefore, ‘not pond ready’ as they will need re-potting into larger containers as soon as you have bought them.

 

Important Information

There is a very good reason why, here at Lilies Water Gardens, we only sell our pond plants in solid pots,  and the reason for that is, we can always guarantee that they are 100% Duckweed free,  duckweed is a tiny highly invasive plant that loves to cling to aquatic baskets and find its way into the baskets  through their  tiny  holes, once inside a basket amongst the wet earth  duckweed can hide unnoticeable, however this problem does not exist when growing pond plants to sell in solid black pots. Once Duckweed takes control, there is no way to control it. For that reason, here at Lilies Water Gardens we sell all of our aquatic planting containers separate to all of our solid pot range of pond plants thus resulting in a 100% Duckweed free growing environment.  After all, Duckweed is the last thing you want in your pond!

 HAPPY DUCKWEED FREE PLANTING!

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The Ten Must Have Water Lilies

 

The Ten Must Have Water Lilies

I thought comprising a list of the 10 most must have Water Lilies would be a simple task, but I had to give the list some serious thinking first.  I have been collecting new hardy Water Lily cultivars for 30 years, and with a collection now of over 250 named hybrids, I had to be a little choosy in trying to pick 10 favourites.  Being an enthusiast, I find all the cultivars to be highly important and unique in their own way.Nymphaea Indiana 107

VLUU L200 / Samsung L200

It’s not just the varied and vivid array of colours; the Water Lily has just so much more going on and for it when it comes to appreciating the beauty of these exquisite flowers.  When I walk into my poly-tunnels in the summer, I am hit with a strong citrus scent and a micro climate of humid air from the Water Lily holding tanks.  This creates ideal conditions for hundreds of breeding Damselflies which is a joy to see.   Water Lilies have a vast range of flower sizes and shapes. Some of the flowers are minute measuring only 2cm across, to those that are giants that have flowers measuring up to 16cm across.  So, some are small and have single petal cultivars whilst others have huge cultivars with hundreds of petals.  Many of the cultivars produce flowers that change colour over their short blooming lives.  Some open up with a light peachy colour fading to bright red within a week.   We now have a new pink cultivar called Nymphaea Manickam that literally changes shape, This stunning Lily was hybridised by Vasu Manickam and seserves a place in the hall of fame, it not only changes shape but varies from dark pink to light pink with age and throughout the summer season, the image above is of Nymphaea Manickam, unfortunately it wont be available to purchase for a few years. We also have another Lily called Nymphaea Wanvisa that has blooms that sometimes open up a very unusual half red and half yellow in colour.   All these blooms come in varied shapes such as goblet, star and tulip.  Flat, open shaped blooms all exist in the Water Lily world.Nymphaea Pinwaree 91t - Copy

I hope you enjoy looking at my list of the Ten must have Water Lily cultivars listed below.   All of them have links to my website where you can see multiple images of each variety along with a very good description and informative information.

VLUU L200 / Samsung L200

Nymphaea Peach Sunrise

Nymphaea Indiana

Nymphaea Chubby

Nymphaea Firecracker

Nymphaea Moondance

Nymphaea Joey Tomocik

Nymphaea Purple Fantasy

Nymphaea Ellisiana

Nymphaea Pinwaree

Nymphaea Wanvisa

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Attracting British Amphibians to your Water Garden

 

Attracting British Amphibians to your Water Garden

 

One of the main attractions when creating a water feature in our gardens is, the hope that we will attract that lovely and sometimes comical, array of amphibians.  We all like the idea of a bit of home conservation, and inviting Frogs, Toads and Newts to live and breed in your gardens is easier than you think. There are two important factors to consider first though, and the first the design of your pond.  The second is, to incorporate and establish the right types of pond plants that these little fellows will love.  If you plan your garden or water feature carefully, below is a list of British Amphibians that you can expect to see in your water garden:-Common Frogs

Common Toads

Common Frogs

Marsh Frogs (South East England)

Smooth Newts

Great Crested Newts

Palmate Newts (not South East England)

I have not included our Naterjack Toad as it is rare and confined to select coastal areas where there are marshes and sandy pools in which they prefer to breed in.

 

Design

The most important factor to consider when creating the ideal environment is that it will suit the needs of all the amphibians that we hope to attract. A good start would be to try and create a low gradient beach area where land meets water.  This area can be back filled with aquatic soil and when planted with low growing foliage plants, will provide an essential entrance, exit and escape route for all amphibians.  The only other thing that is essential in your creation is to incorporate a selection of different levels (planting shelves).  About 7-9 inches and 12-16 inches below the water surface is ideal.  The bottom of the pond can be anything from 18 inches deep for small ponds and 36 inches deep for large ponds.VLUU L200 / Samsung L200

 

 

 Planting

Below is a guide of all the plants that will attract our lovely amphibians and give you a head start in creating the perfect environment to keep them happy in.

 

For the beach area (amphibian entrance and exit to and from the water.)Mazus reptans blue

Mazus Reptans

Phyla Lanceolata

Mentha Pulegium

Veronica Becabunga

Baldelia Ranunculoides

Eleocharis Acicularis

 

Protective cover for Tadpoles and baby NewtsStratiotes Aloides

Apponogetons (species)

Hydrocharis Morsus Ranae (Frogbit)

Stratiotes Aloides (Water Soldiers)

Waterlilies (different cultivars)awesome

 

A selection of plants on which different species of Newts can attach their eggs to.

VLUU L200 / Samsung L200

Ludwigia Palustris

Hippuris Vulgaris

Callitriche (species)

Ranunculus Aquatilis

Sagittaria Graminea

Vallisneria Siralis

Potamogeton Crispus

Myriophyllum Spicatum

Elodea Canadensis

 

Shallow under water foliage plants for 7-9 inch shelves (ideal for spawning Frogs.)Myasotis Palustris Alba 6

Menyanthes Trifoliata

Oenanthes Fistulosa

Myasotis Palustris Alba

 

Rushes and grasses for spawning Toads

Jazz Hot 04Deep Sea Quest 40

Iris (cultivars)

Justicea Americana

Carex Muskingumensis

Eriophorum (species)

Glyceria Maxima Variegata

Juncus Articulatus

Acorus Calamus

Typha (species)

Scirpus (species)

Sagittaria (species)

Pontaderia (species)

When the spring arrives, there is nothing more worthy and rewarding like the sight of thousands of black Tadpoles swimming around a pond that you have created.  It’s definitely a spectacle to behold that you can be proud to say that you have been part of and have helped make happen.

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Lythrum Salicara Attracting Bees and Pollinators

Lythrum Salicara Attracting Bees and Pollinators

If you want to attract Bees and other pollinating insects to your water garden, I would strongly recommend introducing Lythrum Salicara (common name Loosestrife), or one of its hybrid cultivars.  Purple Loosestrife is a UK native, self seeding, clump forming perennial that grows to a height of 120cm.  It puts on a showy display of pink-purple flowers from July to August attracting Bees, Butterflies and Hoverflies.  This plant is therefore, an extremely popular plant for those wanting to create wildlife gardens.  Loosestrife is classed as a marginal plant but will only grow in margins if they are very shallow being no more than 2cm deep.   Ideally, it prefers moist and boggy soil and is therefore best suited to the edge of ponds, lakes, wet ditches and bog gardens.   Being a versatile plant, Loosestrife can tolerate short durations of drought as well as flooding so, is also often grown at the back of moist perennial borders.  Lythrum Salicara is self seeding and will colonise large areas, so if you only want a few plants, my advice to you would be, to grow one of the cultivars listed below.  All  Lythrums are fully frost hardy and their only maintenance requirements is to be cut back in the Autumn to a height of about 10 cm.

 

Lythrum Salicara (native self seeding, purple-pink flowered species)lythrum salicara

 

 

 

 

 

Lythrum Salicara Robert (short growing pink blooms up to a height of 60 cm)Lythrum Salicara Robert

 

 

 

 

 

Lythrum Salicara Swirl, my favourite! (Wild looking airy flowers)Lythrum Salicara Swirl zz 2

 

 

 

 

 

Lythrum Salicara Blush (lovely showy, shell pink blooms)lythrum salicara blush

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Filipendula Ulmaria-Meadow Sweet

 

Filipendula Ulmaria-Meadow Sweet

 

Filipendula Ulmaria, also known as Meadow Sweet, Queen of the Meadow, and Meadwort is a perennial herb that is widespread and native to the UK, and can be found throughout Europe. A moisture loving verging on marginal plant, it favours various damp habitats including damp ditches, marsh lands, water meadows, natural springs, fens and damp woodlands.  It produces airy umbels of creamy white scented flowers between June and August which attract a wide spectrum of pollinating insects including Bees, Hover flies, and Butterflies.  Mead Wort grows to a height of 90 Cm, and will grow happily in full sun or partial shade.  Producing an abundance of small, green pinnate leaves, this certainly makes this native species and its cultivars, a very popular choice of plant for amateur and experienced water gardeners alike.

VLUU L200 / Samsung L200

Meadow Sweet is also grown and used commercially for many other reasons. Its stalks, flowers and roots have been used throughout the ages as Potpourri, also remedies for acid digestive disorders, a natural dye, and can also be used as a herbal tea and flavourings for beers, wines, jams and stews.

VLUU L200 / Samsung L200

Filipendula Ulmaria is easy to take care of and needs little attention other than to be kept damp at all times. In autumn, the plant can be cut down to just a few centimetres.  It is fully frost hardy so requires no winter protection and the new growth will start in the spring where the new season leaves will turn a lovely lime green colour.filipendula ulmaria rosea

There are four cultivars to choose from as well as the Native species:-

Filipendula Ulmaria -native species – (single white flowers)

Filipendula Ulmaria-Flore Plena – (double white flowers)

Filipendula Ulmaria-Aurea – (yellow leaves)

Filipendula Ulmaria-Variegata – (yellow and green variegated leaves)

Filipendula Ulmaria-Rosea – (pink flowers)

 

 

THE UNFORGETTABLE FILIPENDULA!

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Grey Herons

Grey Herons

Latin name Ardea Cinerea, grey Herons are large water birds that are native to the UK.  However, they have a larger distribution and can be found throughout Europe, Asia and Africa.  Herons are freshwater and coastal birds and they can be found in wetlands, lakes, ponds, canals, estuaries and rivers.  Herons have long legs specifically designed for patiently standing motionless in shallow waters waiting for prey to come unwittingly past.  They have a varied diet and fish, amphibians, insects, Voles and even Ducklings are all on the menu.IMAG2618

 

Breeding Information

Herons nest in colonies called Heronries.  They prefer to nest amongst dense plantations of rushes, and the tops of trees and sometimes, can even be found nesting on top of large areas of brambles. In spring, they lay 3 to 5 eggs and the incubation period is 25 days.  After hatching, both parents take turn to feed the chicks.  Young birds fledge at seven to eight weeks.  Unfortunately, the youngsters are most vulnerable during their first winter, but birds that survive through the winter  till the spring time, can usually expect to live another five years.IMAG2464

 

Pest or Welcome Visitor

Grey Herons have a bad reputation for taking fish out of garden ponds.  So, sometimes we need to open our eyes a bit more to see the bigger picture.   Just as we enjoy seeing squirrels at the bird table as well as wild birds,  I believe the bigger picture is the whole of nature and not just our preferred part of it.  These giant birds are magnificent and surely their splendour and the delight of seeing them, allows them some forgiveness for taking one or two fish now and again.  After all, from a Herons point of view, when you went to your local aquatic retailer and bought some Goldfish for your pond, to him you were simply laying the table for supper!   So, we need to enjoy our fish and Herons. This can easily be accomplished by planting good surface covering plants such as Water Lilies and other good surface cover aquatic plants with leaves that will provide hiding place and shelter for your fish which will help in keeping losses down to a minimum.IMAG2461

 

My Brothers Welcome Visitor

All the photos in this article have been supplied by my brother who has a wild, but friendly Heron that visits his garden on a weekly and sometimes daily basis.  I hope you enjoy looking at the photos he sent me as much as I did.IMAG2447

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