Lilies Water Gardens News

Grass Snakes and Ponds

 

Grass Snakes and Ponds

Grass Snakes, Latin name (Natrix Natrix), are the U Ks largest snake and are a protected species under the UK conservation ac.  Also known as Ringed Snakes and Water Snakes, these snakes are non-venomous and therefore, no threat to us humans.  Grass Snakes are very different in appearance to our British venomous Adders which are shorter in length and have a cream colored zigzag that runs down their backs with a cream/pale yellow colored V on their necks. Grass Snakes are dark green or brown with black spotted scales with a yellow collar.  They are much larger and slimmer than Adders and adult females, can grow to a length of 100 cm and have occasionally been found to have grown to 150 cm in length.

 

 

 

 

 

Habitat

 

Water Snakes hence one of the common names, are mainly found in fresh water habitats, and can often be found near lakes, ponds, ditches, streams and marshes.  These locations are favored as their main diet consists of Amphibians and Fish.  They are excellent graceful swimmers and it is quite a treasured sight to see one of these special snakes swimming across the top of your pond in the summer months in search of a meal.  However, if needed, they will also eat small mammals and insects.  Water Snakes don’t spend their entire time throughout the spring and summer around water and can often be found in open clearings, the edge of woodlands and, in grasslands basking in the sun on a hot summer’s day.

 

 Life cycle

Between October and April Grass Snakes go into hibernation where they will sleep away the winter months and can be found underneath logs, stones, rotting vegetation or even tucked down the end of disused rodent burrow.  Like Frogs, Toads and Newts, adults emerge in April and go on the hunt for a partner.  Females lay eggs 6-8 weeks later during the months of June-July, and can lay anywhere between 8 to 40 eggs.  Grass snakes prefer to lay their eggs in decomposing foliage or in urban garden compost heaps as the eggs will maintain a constant temperature of between 21 – 28 Celsius.  The eggs will hatch in late summer/early autumn about 10 weeks later.  Newly emerged miniature Grass Snakes are totally independent and will go on the hunt over the next few weeks for their first meals, but they too will go into hibernation when winter approaches.

 

Predators

Grass Snakes have quite a lot of predators and quite a few survival techniques when threatened. Foxes, Herons, Badgers and Herons will all favour Grass Snakes as a quick snack.  I sometimes think nature is horrible but it always helps to see the bigger picture!   However, these snakes have a few tricks up their sleeves.  If caught, they secrete the foulest smelling liquid and I know this first hand and it’s certainly enough to put any predator off!  If that does not work these amazing snakes will roll upside down and play dead with their mouths slightly ajar secreting blood!  Now that is truly amazing!

 

I hope this article gives you an insight into one of the U Ks very special wild snakes, and that you might just be lucky enough to have some visit your water garden to set up home and colonise in your back garden.

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Environmentally Friendly Bare Rooted Pond Plants

 

Environmentally Friendly Bare Rooted Pond Plants

 

A lot of companies are advertising and selling what they call “pond ready plants” in 11 cm and 1 litre sized aquatic baskets!  WARNING – THEY ARE NOT!  But there are many other environmental reasons why it is far better to buy bare-rooted pond plants whenever possible and I have listed those reasons below.

 

 

 

 

 

 

1) 11cm and 1 litre sized aquatic baskets are just too small to house the majority of pond plants. With the exception of a handful of miniature sized plants, all other pond plants sold in these sized aquatic baskets will need to be re-planted into larger containers before being placed in your pond.

 

2) When pond plants are sold, they are going to end up in natural clay or silt bottomed ponds or in man made fiberglass, concrete or lined ponds, there is absolutely no need for the use of Aquatic baskets when planting straight into clay or silt,

 

3) Pond makeovers are a regular event and with the exception of the novice beginner, all other pond hobbyists will most likely have a stack of previously used aquatic baskets that they can re-use.

 

4) Bare-rooted plants are lighter in weight and require less packaging, resulting in a more ECO-FRIENDLY CARBON FOOTPRINT!

 

5) On a productive level, it is by far more environmentally friendly for us to sell our pond plants when possible, as bare-rooted plants taken straight from our stock growing tanks and then delivered to our customer’s doors.   We do this now for all our Water Lilies, Water Iris and all our other Deep Water and Oxygenating Plants, and this cuts out on the use of solid small plastic pots thus making pond plant production far more ECO-FRIENDLY!

 

 

For the reasons listed above, there must be a huge amount of aquatic baskets that are simply thrown away straight after being purchased, and also a huge amount of plastic waste mounting up simply as a consequence of selling these pond plants.

 

Here at Lilies Water Gardens, we sell bare rooted pond plants wherever possible to our customers visiting our nursery or buying online from our website www.lilieswatergardens.co.uk

 

Be Environmentally Friendly And Buy Bare Rooted Pond Plants For A Cleaner Environment!!

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Marsh Pennywort ( Not To Be Confused with Floating Pennywort)

 

Marsh Pennywort (Not To Be Confused With Floating Pennywort)

On Monday the 26th March the BBC News highlighted a huge problem with a plant called Pennywort that is choking waterways in the UK.  The plant they were referring to is Floating Pennywort, Latin name ( Hydrocotyl Ranunculoides).   This non-native plant is highly invasive and was banned from sales in the UK in 2014.

 Not To Be Confused With

 

Hydrocotyl Vulgaris – (Marsh Pennywort

 This native creeping marginal plant has attractive small round leaves that float on the water. It is a very under rated plant.  Marsh Pennywort makes an excellent addition to any water garden environment where it will grow nicely in shallow water and muddy margins. it is also suitable for the edges of streams and waterfalls where it will grow quite happily in full sun or partial shade.  This special plant is also sometimes categorized as a shallow oxygenating plant but although it will provide some oxygen to very shallow waters, it is not a true oxygenating plant.  Marsh Pennywort grows to a height of 10 cm.  The planting water depth should be no more than 4 cm.  Also available is a lovely similar sized cultivar called Hydrocotyl Sibthorpioides-Chrystal Confetti.  This variety has very attractive cream and green variegated leaves.

 

 

 

 

 

 

UK Banned Plants And Our Compliance

 We believe that there is a good reason why certain invasive pond plants incur a ban (with exception to the Elodea Crispa and Water Hyacinth ban), which was a EU ban!   Therefore, we fully support invasive plant rules made by DEFRA on non indigenous species.   Here at Lilies Water Gardens, we believe it’s very important that these invasive plants should never be sold as they could then have the potential to be released into the wild where they will be harmful to our natural waterways and water habitats.   For that reason alone, you will never find any banned plants on our nursery or for sale on our online website www.lilieswatergardens.co.uk

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Correct Planting of Bare Rooted Pond Plants and Water Lilies

 

 

Correct Planting of Bare Rooted Pond Plants and Water Lilies

 

Unfortunately, there seems to be a lot of miss-guided information when it comes to planting bare-rooted pond plants and Water Lilies.

 

 

 

 

 

What Are Bare Rooted Pond Plants?

 Firstly, the definition of a bare rooted pond plant is a plant that has exposed roots.  A tuber or a rhizome is a plant that is not a pre-potted pot plant, or in the pond world, not pre-potted into an aquatic basket.

 

Planting Bare Rooted Water Lilies

Bare rooted Water Lilies are sold as bare rooted rhizomes with fresh spring leaf shoots or with stems, leaves and flowers or buds in the summer.  Newly cut rhizomes should be sold with the old roots trimmed off, and once planted, the rhizome will soon develop circular roots around the rhizome at the base of the shoots/stems.  This root producing process will only happen when the water in your pond warms up, in early spring, planted Water Lily rhizomes that are planted into cold water can sit dormant for many weeks.  Water Lily rhizomes should always be planted with the tip of the rhizome just under soil level.  Some cultivar rhizomes/tubers are long and very narrow and these types of tubers should be planted on a 45 degree angle.   Other cultivars have stocky, fat, smooth edged rhizomes these are also best planted on a 45 degree angle but can be planted upright.  A few Water Lily rhizomes look like pineapples and Pygmaea Helvola is a good example.  Cultivars with this type of rhizome should be planted upright.

 

Planting Bare Rooted Pond Plants

When you purchase bare rooted pond plants, you will either receive plants that have obvious exposed roots or plants that have tubers or rhizomes with or without exposed roots with the exception of oxygenating plants and submerged pond weeds.   Pond plants with exposed roots are very simple to plant up.  Just make sure the exposed roots are planted below soil level but not too deep or to the point where a spring plant with more roots than top growth end up with its spring shooting leaves buried under soil. Pond plants sold that resemble tuber or rhizomes should be planted just below the soil level on a 45 degree angle, the same way as most of the Water Lily cultivars are planted.

 

 

 

Planting Oxygenating Plants and Submerged Aquatic Plants

Sold as multiple foliage stems either loose or bunched, many of the submerged plants will produce floating leaves when they mature over the summer months.  They are easy to plant whatever their stage of growth and some of these under water plants are sold with little or no showing roots. Plant up with one third of the base/cut end (not growing tip end) under soil level.   Submerged plants produce lots of roots and start growing very quickly once the weather warms up.

 

Please visit our website www.lilieswatergardens.co.uk for a vast range of information on all topics of Water Gardening.

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Attracting Elephant Hawk Moths by planting Menyanthes Trifoliata (Bog Bean)

Attracting Elephant Hawk Moths By Planting Menyanthes Trifoliata (Bog Bean)

The great thing about water gardening is the amount of wildlife that water can attract to your garden.  Menyanthes Trifoliata, commonly known as Bog Bean, can be grown in any sized pond.  This marginal plant also known as Marsh Trefoil and Buckbean, produces leaves that are the food source for the larvae (Caterpillars, of the attractive, pink coloured, Elephant Hawk Moth.

Bog Bean produces long narrow rootstock/rhizomes that grows happily in bogs or submerged up to a water depth of 60cm.  In deeper water, the rootstock grows to the surface where it continues branching out and floating/rafting across the water surface, forming dense floating islands of foliage that have attractive,three lobed green leaves.  These leaves have been harvested throughout time and used for many medicinal purposes.

Menyanthes grows wild throughout the northern hemisphere and can commonly be found in lakes, ponds, bog-lands and open wetland.  In late spring, it puts on a stunning show of fringed, pale pink, star shaped flowers that emerge from attractive, dark pink buds.

Elephant Hawk Moths are one of our most colourful insects in the UK, and the caterpillars of this species are also simply stunning and grow to a length of 7.6cm (3 inches).  The larvae look like elephant trunks (hence the name), and like many other moth larvae, have dark eye spots near the head.  This mimicry is a wonder of evolution and designed to make the caterpillar look like a small snake or other predator.

Menyanthes Trifoliata (Bog Bean) is available to buy from March onwards from our website www.lilieswatergardens.co.uk or visiting us at Lilies Water Gardens retail nursery.

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Marginal Pond Plants or Bog Garden Plants

 

Marginal Pond Plants Or Bog Garden Plants

There seems to be a lot of confusion and inaccuratces with information all over the internet on the categorising of marginal pond plants and bog garden plants.  Like before in many of my articles I will now endeavour to set the record straight.  This information will be essential and informative to anyone that needs a bit of accurate guidance on how and where to plant pond plants to ensure that they will thrive and live happily, rather than giving up and dyeing due to being planted in the wrong places.

 

Marginal Plants

The name gives it away! Marginal plants grow at the margins of where land meets water.  Water levels in nature rise and drop in times of flooding and drought and because of this, many marginal plants will also grow happily as bog garden plants.  There are many plants listed on my website under several categories due to the fact that they are adaptable and versatile.

 

 

 

Bog Garden Plants

The plants in this category consist of plants that like having their feet in boggy conditions, mud, and very damp soil only.  Some marginal plants are happy in water OR boggy conditions.   Many bog-garden plants are listed as marginal plants, but I can assure you, that when planted in water, they will die rather quickly.  All the plants listed below are categorized wrongly all over the internet as Marginal plants but they are in fact Bog Garden Plants! 

 

 

Cardamine Pratensis

Lychis Flos Culii

Lobelia Syphilitica

Eupatorium Cannibinum

Mimulus Cupreus

Mimulus Cardinalis

Lobelia Vedrariensis

Geum Rivale

Lysimachia Vulgaris

Ranunuculus Acris Multiplex

Schizostylis Coccinea

Gunnera Magellanica

Iris Pseudacorus Berlin Tiger

Persicaria Bistorta Superum

 

That’s quite a list and I’m sure I have probably missed a few.  Not only are the plants I have listed sold incorrectly as marginal plants but, they are also sold in aquatic baskets and advertised as pond ready.  However, they won’t last five minutes once submerged under water.

 

I have been growing pond plants now for over 30 years and all the plants on my website www.lilieswatergardens.co.uk are categorised 100 PER CENT correctly.

I hope this article is interesting and helpful!

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Growing Water Lilies in Containers

Growing Water Lilies in Containers

When we think of Water Lilies, we tend to think of village ponds and lakes.  Water Lilies come in all different sizes and there are dozens of small Water Lily cultivars that are easy to grow in containers requiring little maintenance.  This article is a step by step guide to creating a stunning floral water feature that will display an array of natural summer colour for you to enjoy.  Water Lily containers need to be sighted in full sun and will look great on their own or as multiple features for lawns, decking areas, patios and even balcony’s.

 

 

 

Water gardening in containers is nothing new, but the amount of different Water Lilies that are suitable for growing in containers, are very new.  There have been a lot of new Water Lily cultivar introductions over the last few years, see the image of Nymphaea Heartbeat below,

 

 

 

First you need to find a watertight container.  Here at Lilies Water Gardens, we sell patio tubs which are ideal as they can be free standing or, sunk down into your garden so they are level with the grass, but there are still plenty of other options.  Basically, anything that holds water as long as it has a minimal water depth of 8 inches and a minimal diameter of 12 inches will suffice. You could even use an old style rectangular shaped basin which will make a perfect miniature water garden giving you an interesting and rustic feel to the feature itself and will enhance any garden.

 

 

 

For best results, avoid using aquatic baskets when planting up water containers.  Water Lilies always grow and flower to their full potential when allowed to spread, so whatever container you use, I would suggest adding good aquatic soil straight into the container allowing a water depth of 6 inches above.  Next add Osmocote tablets or any other tablet form of feed for aquatic pond plants as this will give them the best start. If you are going to use Osmocote tablets, you will need to add THREE of these 5-6 month slow release tablets to every square feet and this needs to be done in March and again in July.

 

 

 

You should now be ready for the interesting part of planting up your container.  It is a wrongly directed myth that Water Lilies like to be planted with 1 or 2 inches of their rhizomes above soil level.  I would suggest that you simply plant the rhizome/ tuber of your chosen cultivar, at a 45 degree angle with the crown (growing point) about 1 cm below the soil level and then press the rhizome/tuber in firmly.  Water Lilies do like to be planted tightly into the container.

 

 

 

 

 Quantities and colour

If you are planting into a very small container, you are probably best planting just one Water Lily cultivar.  However, if you are planting into patio tubs which we sell at our nursery, or a rectangular basin which is mentioned above or indeed, any larger sized container, then you have the option of multi-planting.  A patio tub will happily house 3 to 6 different cultivars, resulting in a display of numerous different Water Lily blooms at any given time throughout the months of June to Mid-September.

Here at Lilies Water Gardens, it gives me great pleasure to be able to offer you the widest selection of small and miniature Water Lily cultivars which are available to buy online from our retail nursery, so visit our website www.lilieswatergardens.co.uk

 

 

Water Lilies are us!

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Tame Grey Herons

Tame Grey Herons

Last January I wrote and put live a article on my website on the life of Grey Herons, all the photos in the article were of a very tame Heron that has become friends with my brother Mark and visits his back garden on a daily basis for his breakfast of fresh raw fish, why stand in the water for hours in freezing cold water if it breakfast can be brought to you on a plate!

 

 

What started off as a occasional visit a couple of years back has now turned into a daily visit by a local Heron that has now got so tame that he almost feeds out of my brothers hands and even sometimes wanders into his house.

 

This is the link to the original article Grey Herons

I hope you like the new photos

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Oenanthes for Wild and Formal Pond Planting

Oenanthes for Wild and Formal Pond Planting

 

There are many species of Oenanthes that grow wild in various wetland habitats.  They can be found in water meadows, streams, ditches, marshes, rivers, pond, lakes and bog-lands.  Most resemble weeds, so are rarely grown for use in the garden, but there are however, a couple of varieties/species that look great and are suitable for planting in all different kinds of water garden environments and one of these, is Water Dropwort.  This plant keep some of its foliage through the winter so can be categorised as semi-evergreen.  they are at their happiest growing in full sun or partial shade.

 

Oenanthe Fistulosa (Tubular Water Dropwort)

This one is my favourite.  Oenanthe Fistulosa has very attractive finely divided bright green fern-like leaves and puts on a lovely display of Scabious looking pincushion white flowers during the summer months which attract Bees and Butterflies.  They grow to a height of 60cm and come into flower between June-September.  Their preferred water depth is 0-10 cm.

 

Oenanthe Javanica Flamingo (Variegated Water Dropwort)

The name Flamingo refers to this plants fresh spring leaves that are bright pink and green in variation.   As the plant matures and grows throughout the spring and summer months, the variation of colours consist of pink, green, white, and cream.  The flowers are not quite as impressive as those of Oenanthes Fistulosa but are still popular and frequently visited by Bees and Butterflies.  Ultimately though, variegated Water Dropwort is grown as a foliage plant.  Height 20-40cm and flowering between July-September and preferred water depth is 0-10cm.

 

Caution

All of the Oenanthes species and cultivars are poisonous to humans and animals, but there is no need to worry too much about adding these plants to your water garden.  Animals naturally seem to know if a plant is poisonous however, children don’t and this should be taken into consideration when deciding to purchase these plants.

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The Common Names of Marginal Pond Plants Exsplained

 

 

The Common Names of Marginal Pond Plants Explained

The vast majority of ‘common pond plant’ names are self explanatory.  For example ‘Flowering Rush’ is a rush that flowers and ‘Cotton Grass,’ is grass like and produces fluffy cotton looking seed heads.  However, there are some pond plants that have common names that keep us guessing. Some of these are based on shape, colour or smell, but there are also other interesting names that have developed over time from folklore.  Although I cannot list every common pond plant name and definition,I hope the listings below create some interest –

 

Brandy Bottle – The flowers of this deep water aquatic plant smell of alcohol.

 

Bog Bean –  Named after its smooth shiny bean shaped leaves.

 

Devils Bit Scabious – According to folklore, the devil was angry at the plants ability to cure   scabies and other skin ailments.

 

Mares Tail – Apparently, this oxygenating plant produces leaves that emerge out of the water which look like horse tails.

 

Brooklime – This plant grows in muddy brooks and is a lovely lime coloured green.

 

Creeping Jenny –  The name probably comes from the word ‘chinne’ which means whooping cough.  This plant has been used as a herbal remedy throughout time to cure coughs.  Its name was changed to Jenny later.

 

 

Water Soldiers – Has bayonet shaped leaves.

 

Water Starwort – This plant has lovely star shaped floating leaves.

 

Orange Peel Plant – When crushed or rubbed, the leaves smell of oranges.

 

Sweet Flag – This plant has a sweet aroma when the leaves are rubbed or the tuber is snapped open.

 

Water Forget Me Not – God gave all plants a name and when he had finished, a quiet voice from a low growing flower said “what about me,” so god called the plant Water Forget Me Not.

 

Sneeze Wort – The Latin name for this plant is ‘Achillea Ptarmica’.  Ptarmica is apparently a Greek word meaning “to cause a sneeze”

 

Marsh Marigolds – It originates from the name of the Virgin Mary (Mary’s gold) and somewhere over time it became what we know it as today, Marsh Marigold.

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