Lilies Water Gardens News

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)




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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.



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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


Colour for us all!

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Hardy Purple, blue and glowing vivid pink water lilies


Hardy Purple. Blue and Glowing Vivid Pink Water Liliessky diamond

Over the past ten years there has been a new breakthrough in Water Lily hybridization and now, there are dozens of frost hardy purple, vivid glowing pink and blue Water Lilies in existence. These particular Water Lilies are recognised as Inter-Sub Generic Water Lilies or (ISG) for short and are a cross between tropical water lilies and hardy water lilies, which has resulted in new and exciting colours which are also hardy. This has all been achieved by top hybridizers from around the world including my special friend Vasu, who lives in Germany. siampurple 2


I would like to ask you all to just be aware and cautious of any company that is selling half-hardy purple Water Lilies as these are in fact, Tropical varieties that require completely different care to ISG Water Lilies, there is no such thing as a half hardy purple water lily, they are either tropical ( will not survive a UK winter ) or Inter-sub-generic ISG and will survive a UK winter, so please be aware of rogue companies including a frost hardy purple or blue in a collection of reds, pinks and other colours, you are being miss-informed and they are ripping you off!!!nymphaea-tropic-star-62

This year we had three different cultivars of ISG hardy purple Water Lilies that were available to buy from our website including Nymphaea Purple Fantasy.

Hardy purples, glowing-vibrant-pinks, and blues are very new and rare in the Water Lily world and therefore, a lot more expensive than the traditional Lilies we also sell. Having seen these stunning Lilies flower for the first time in the past two years, all I can say is, they are simply outstanding in every way and well worth the investment. As an extra bonus, they are also easy to grow and can be treated the same way as all other hardy Water Lily rootstock.

VLUU L200  / Samsung L200

VLUU L200 / Samsung L200

My collection of ISG water lilies has now reached 20 plus and the collection is growing, all will become available to purchase one day, some new cultivars available next year, or the year after, while others might not be available for five years!nymphaea-fay-mcdonald-222m


All the images above are of new frost hardy ISG Water lilies

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Marsilea Four Leafed Water Clover

Marsilea (Four Leafed Water Clover)

Also known as Four Leafed Water Fern, Marsilea are Aquatic Ferns that grow in water up to 30cm in depth and there are many different species from all corners of the world. All species are happy growing in full sun or partial shade.

VLUU L200  / Samsung L200

VLUU L200 / Samsung L200


Marsilea Quadrifolia

European Water Clover can be found growing throughout the northern hemisphere and is abundant in the USA and Asia as well as Europe. This particular species can adapt and grow as a marginal plant which has good oxygenating properties. When grown submerged, this Four Leafed Clover will produce floating leaves however, when grown as a marginal plant, it produces smaller leaves that stand immersed out of the water up to a height of 15cm. This variety is fully frost hardy.

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Eriophorum Cotton Grass



Eriophorum (Cotton Grass)

Cotton Grasses are very popular for a reason. Their flowers heads of cotton give a whole new visual aspect to the water garden. They all grow in shallow water and are therefore, suitable for the margins of ponds and lakes, and the non-invasive species, looks great when planted into bog-gardens.


Eriophorum Angustifolium (Can Be Invasive)Eriophorum Angustifolium LEGAL

This species is also known as Common Cotton Grass, is abundant across the Northern Hemisphere. It has narrow, dark green leaves and white cotton heads. Consideration should be given when planting out this particular species as it is quite invasive, but its growth rate will be reduced and not a problem, if planted into Aquatic Baskets which can be put into man-made, fibreglass or lined ponds.   This species will grow to a height of 75cm and prefers a water depth of 6cm. Flowering in April-June, this Cotton Grass is quite an interesting plant and a lovely addition to have in your pond.


Eriophorum Latifoium

Commonly named as the Broad Leafed Cotton Grass, this is by far my favourite one of all. With it’s compact growing habit and production of masses of pure, white cotton heads, it is very popular and makes a excellent marginal plant for all ponds. Latifoium will grow up to 75cm in height and will grow happily in a water depth of 6cm. Flowering in May-July, it’s a wonderful and visually pleasing Grass to have in your pond.

Eriophorum latifolium, Broadleaved Cotton Grass

Eriophorum latifolium, Broadleaved Cotton Grass


Eriophorum Russeolum

Golden Cotton Grass, also sometimes known as Red Cotton Grass, is certainly a very unusual cultivar indeed. With it’s golden coloured cotton heads borne out of narrow needle-like green leaves, it truly is quite an interesting and spectacular sight. Fortunately, it’s a non-invasive sedge which comes from North America and grows to a shorter height of 40cm. Russeolum prefers to grow in water up to a depth of 6cm and will produce flowers from June-August.

VLUU L200 / Samsung L200


 Eriophorum Vaginatum

Also known as Tussock Cotton Grass, this species can be found throughout the northern latitude including the UK, although as yet, absent from the South East of England. Vaginatum is a shorter growing variety which grows up to a height of20-30cm and in April-May, it produces Cotton Tussocks that change colour with age. The colour changes includes black, white and varied shades of brown, grey and yellow. This species prefers very shallow water from 0-2cm in depth.

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Water Voles



Water Voles or Latin Name (Arvicola Amphibious)

The European Water Vole also known as the ‘Water Rat’ was once widespread throughout the British Isles. Now a protected species but sadly still in decline, their population has dropped due to habitat replacement and pollution. With the introduction of American Mink, the Water Voles main predator, the average lifespan of Water Voles is only 5 months, although they can live up to 2 years if luck is on their side.Water Voles

Water Voles can be found almost anywhere where there is natural fresh water. Their habitat includes water meadows, ditches, lakes and streams, and as their name suggests, they are semi-aquatic and therefore are excellent swimmers and love diving under the water surface. For Voles, they are quite large with a body length of 20cm and tail half the length of their body’s. It’s their size and unusual tail length that gives Voles their nickname as ‘Water Rats’. However, often they can be mistaken for wild Rats, but a closer inspection of their rounded noses and small ears will definitely distinguish them apart from our other furry friends.


Lifecycle and Diet

Like many other small rodents, Water Voles have a quick gestation period of about 3 weeks where they can give birth to up to 8 babies that can open their eyes after just 3 days. They nest and live in excavated burrows and in water meadows, choosing any flat land as a perfect habitat to perform their daily tasks in. Water Voles can also be found nesting amongst aquatic Rushes and Grasses and their diet consists of the aquatic vegetation and the roots of many edible native plants. During the winter months, Voles don’t hibernate but prefer to forage food where it will be stored in their burrows.

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