Lilies Water Gardens News

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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Eleocharis Acicularis (hair grass)

 

Eleocharis Acicularis  (Hair Grass)

This is one of my favourite versatile water garden plants.  Also known as Needle Spike Rush, Hair Grass is attractive and adaptable to a large range of different conditions.  It’s a terrestrial plant meaning that it grows under the water and above and it will thrive and colonise into bright green, dense mats that resemble underwater lawns.  This lovely plant is very adaptable and will carpet the bottom of ponds, lakes etc growing to a water depth of 60cm, creeping up low under water gradient slopes and then out the water into muddy margins.  If grown under the water it will grow to a height of 15cm, but will adapt to a lower height of 5cm when growing in moist conditions.Eleocharis Acicularis 20

In the wild, it can be found growing all over the northern hemisphere and Australia.  Hair Grass naturally favours clay and silt bottomed ponds but will also grow quite happily in wet meadows, marsh lands, slow moving streams and lakes and their muddy margins

 Uses in the Water Garden

Needle Spike Rush is one of the most useful plants for all water gardeners as it is one of the best oxygenating plants and a good nitrate remover therefore, essential as a prevention treatment for different types of algae and blanket weed.  For an even greater result for achieving that Chrystal clear water, below are the names of a couple of plants that when planted alongside Hair Grass, will give you a really good result.

VLUU L200 / Samsung L200      Vallisneria Spiralis

 

Sagittaria Graminea

Sagittaria Graminea 2Established carpets of Hair Grass make excellent hiding places for all under water wildlife.  The dense mats are a favoured spawning ground for Frogs, Newts and many types of fish.  For that reason, Hair Grass is widely used to cover the bottom of tropical and fresh water aquariums, and therefore, just as popular to aquarium hobbyists as it is to all water gardeners.Eleocharis Acicularis555l

Lastly, when Hair Grass adapts out of the water it puts on a magnificent display of seed heads throughout the summer.  Please see the photo to the right.

 

HATS OFF TO HAIR GRASS!

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Amphibian Watch Autumn-Winter 2016

Amphibian Watch Autumn-Winter 2016Baby Marsh Frog

 

During my autumn nursery tidy up this year, I was amazed at the amount of Amphibians I found almost on a daily basis.  Most of them I found under plant trays, but some were found under fiberglass plant holding tanks in little hollows of earth.  All these hiding places were favored for one reason and that was because, they make excellent refuge and protection places for their winters hibernation.  I decided at the time, to take some photos of baby Frogs and Toads that had made it this far from the spring 2016 spawning season and as you can see in the photo below the  infant Toad is a bit chubby and well stored up on fat supplies which will help ensure her survival  in her hibernation through the cold winter months. The photo above is a baby marsh frog. Baby Toad

It’s been an exceptionally cold January so far and that can take its toll on young amphibians.  Let’s hope the youngsters in the photographs will be lucky and awake in a few weeks time to carry on their active lives in the spring.Baby Common Frogs

I hope you enjoy the photos, the one on the left is a baby common frog.

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Pond and Water Plants in Colour

Pond and Water Plants in Colour

 

There are hundreds of thousands of plants from all corners of the world that grow in still and running water.  Unfortunately, the majority of these are too invasive or simply not interesting enough (unless you’re a botanist), to grow in man-made water gardens and ponds.   Fortunately, commercially produced pond plants come in all sizes, shapes and colors.  Many are just foliage plants and/or produce interesting seed heads and there are also large varied collections that produce stunning flowers that bring color on and around the water.awesome

 

Water Lilies are the largest of our flowering plants in the pond plant industry.  There are thousands of species and cultivars and some are tropical and some are frost hardy.  Whatever your preferences, Lilies come in all colors of the rainbow so there should be one to suit everyone.  Colour in the hardy cultivars was limited up to a few years ago, but some very clever hybridizers have now managed to create frost hardy purples and blues.

 

Marginal Plants – This collection includes hundreds of rushes and grasses that do not produce flowers.   However, there are many species and cultivars including the showy Louisiana Iris, that produce spectacular flowers and I have listed some of my favorites below-Deep Sea Quest 40

Louisiana Iris         –          (species and cultivars)

Pontaderia             –          (species and cultivars)

Caltha                     –           (species and cultivars)

Lythrums               –           (species and cultivars)

Justicea  Americana

Mentha                  –           (species)

Butomus                –           (species and cultivars)

Myasotis                –           (species and cultivars)

Ranunculus           –           (species)

Thalia Dealbata

Zantadescia Aethiopica

Sagittaria               –           (species and cultivars)

Floating Leaved and Free-floating Plants – The majority of plants in this collection are tropical and don’t produce flowers.  However, there are a few frost hardy plants that do put on a show of colour and probably the best and by far the most popular in this category is Apponogeton Distachyos.  Also known as Water Hawthorne, this particular plant produces large displays of interesting vanilla scented flowers that sit above the water.  Hydrocharis Morsus Ranae also known as Frogbit, is a free floating plant that colonises across the water’s surface in the summer and produces small, dainty white flowers.  Ranunculus Aquatilis is a good oxygenating plant that grows submerged under the water’s surface and produces attractive floating leaves.  Growing in still water or running water, Ranunculus Aquatilis will carpet the water’s surface with white flowers in late spring and early summer.  Nuphars are a family of plants with similar leaves to Water Lilies and produce yellow, Buttercup looking flowers throughout the summer months and there are several species to choose from.Caltha Marilyn_0021-1

 

All the plants listed and mentioned above can be seen with full individual descriptions and coloured photos on our website at www.lilieswatergardens.co.uk

 

Colour for us all!

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