Lilies Water Gardens News

Attract Bees and Butterflies to your Garden with Succisa Pratensis

Attract Bees And Butterflies To Your Garden with Succisa Pratensis


Succisa Pratensis also known as (Devils Bit Scabious), is a UK native deciduous perennial.  It’s natural growing habitats include damp meadows, marshes and along river banks, however, the plant is quite versatile and will grow just as happily in slightly moist soil and can often be found growing on the edges of deciduous woodlands.  Devils Bit Scabious likes to be grown in sun or partial shade.  It is a compact plant with low growing purple blotched leaves and its flowering stems grow to a height of 60 cm and produce pincushion shaped single violet flowers from July-November.  These plants are particularly favored by visiting Bees and Butterflies.







Devils Bit Scabious is a member of the Honey Suckle family and its leaves are the food plant for the larvae of the Marsh Fritillary Butterfly.  This special British Butterfly is sadly in decline which makes a good valid reason for growing and incorporating this free flowering  plant into your pond surroundings. Devils Bit Scabious has medicinal qualities and has been used to treat skin ailments, hence the word Scabious (Scabies).   Apparently , according to folklore, the Devil was angry at the plants medicinal purposes and bit of the plants short growing roots, hence the common name (Devils Bit Scabious).



Succisa Pratensis Peddars Pink is a lovely rare pink flowered variety that looks great planted either on its own, or mixed with the violet native plant described above.  Both varieties of these Butterfly and Bee friendly plants can be purchased from our nursery or online from our website

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Growing Water Lilies in Deep Ponds


Growing Water Lilies in Deep Ponds


One of the most frequent inquiries I receive is “What Water Lilies are suitable for deep water.”? The deepest water in larger ponds and lakes could be anywhere between 4 to 15 feet in depth or even deeper, but Water Lilies will not grow in waters of more than 5 ft deep and there are only a few Water Lily cultivars that will grow happily in water that is 5ft in depth. There are however, quite a lot of cultivars that will also grow happily in 3 to 4 ft of water if allowed time to establish.


There are two essential things that Water Lilies require in order to grow fast and colonise quickly, and these are warm water and light.   All large growing Water Lily cultivars will grow twice or three times as fast when planted into shallow waters that are 12-18 inches deep.  If a large growing Water Lily cultivar is planted into 3 to 5 ft of water, there will be less light and the water will be cooler and therefore, a large colony of Water Lily tubers/rhizomes will take a long time to establish.   So, when you see a large patch of established Water Lilies growing in a village pond, they have probably been growing there for a long time or, they are growing in a purpose or natural raised/shallow area of clay/silt which is ideal.


Water Lilies always grow better when planted straight into natural clay and silt rather than in aquatic baskets as the rhizomes/tubers are not restricted.   So, even in manmade concrete, lined or fibreglass ponds I would always recommend adding 6-8 inches of pond substrate into the bottom of the pond if possible ready for natural planting.


Aquatic Baskets and Water Depth Requirements

Adding a natural level of sediment/substrate to the bottom of a man made pond can be a costly procedure so, most of the time large Water Lily cultivars are planted into large 40 cm square aquatic baskets.  To achieve impact and a more established look in the first season, you can plant multiple rhizomes (3 or 5) into one basket and this is always recommended if the basket is going to be positioned in deeper water (3-5 ft) but, if the basket is to be positioned in shallow water 12 to 18 inches, then you might want to plant just one or two rhizomes as they will grow three times as quickly, for the reasons as explained in the paragraph above.



One good thing about large aquatic baskets is they are spacious and 12 inches deep which means, that if your pond is 4ft deep and the baskets are going to be positioned at the bottom of the pond, you will be able to choose Water Lily cultivars with a water depth requirement of 3 ft as the water depth calculation will be the distance from the top of the aquatic basket to the water surface.


I have listed three large growing Water Lily cultivars below with links to photos, but there are plenty more listed on my website  that will grow in water that is 3-4 ft.  The water depth requirements can be seen below the Water Lily cultivar images throughout the website.


Nymphaea Texas Dawn







Nymphaea Postlinberg



Nymphaea Myra




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Juncus Species and Cultivars for Ponds


Juncus Species and Cultivars for Ponds


Planting up a pond or water garden is not always about flowers.  The colour of foliage and plants that produce interesting seed heads can be just as visual and create a natural looking balance, when planted amongst and in-between flowering plants.  Not surprising, that ornamental grass areas are so popular throughout the garden trade.  There are around 300 species of Juncus, commonly known as Rushes that originate from all over the world.  They are plants of wet habitats and many are so small and insignificant, they just look like small weeds.  However, some species are grown commercially and look great when planted in different water garden environments.  All produce interesting seed heads (flowers), and are valuable for attracting wildlife.  Juncus are tough plants and will survive the harshest UK winters and tolerate short periods of drought and flooding and I have listed some below –


Juncus Articulatus

Common name Jointed Rush – A clump forming British wild native marginal rush with very attractive dark brown/black seed heads.  Suitable for ponds, streams, lakes and bog-gardens. Height 40-60 cm.  Flowering time June-September. Water depth 0-2 cm over the soil/crown.



Juncus Ensifolius

Common name Sword Leaved Rush – A clump forming British wild marginal plant with narrow blueish/green ornamental looking rush-like leaves and small round pea sized dark/black seed heads.   Suitable for the edge of streams, lakes and shallow muddy pond margins. Height 20-30 cm. Water depth 0-2 cm over the soil/crown.



Juncus Submodulosa

A small British Juncus with attractive compact seed heads.  Suitable for the edge of ponds, lakes, streams and bog-gardens.  Height 30 cm.  Flowering time June-August.  Water depth 0-2 cm over the crown.



Juncus Effusus

Common name Common Rush or Soft Rush, A clump forming British wild native evergreen marginal plant with narrow green ornamental looking rush-like leaves. There is also a ornamental cultivar of this species called Juncus Effusus Gold Strike which has vertical banded yellow and green leaves, Suitable for ponds, streams and lakes. Height 60 cm.  Flowering time June-August. Water depth 0-2 cm over the soil/crown.







Juncus Inflexus

Common name Hard Rush or Blue Rush, A clump forming British wild native evergreen marginal plant with narrow bluish/green ornamental looking rush-like leaves.  Suitable for ponds, streams and lakes. Height 60 cm. Flowering time June-August.  Water depth 0-2 cm over the soil/crown.





If you are interested in growing some of these superb Rushes, please visit our website

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Potentilla Palustris for attracting Bees to your Wildlife Pond

Potentilla Palustris For Attracting Bees To Your Wildlife Pond


This is going to be a short article but an informative guide to one of Britain’s prettiest native pond and wetland plants.  Potentilla Palustris, also known as (Purple Wort), (Purple Marshwort), (Marsh Cinquefoil) or (Bog-Strawberry), can be found growing wild in various wetland habitats such as marsh lands and by the edge of rivers and streams.  Marsh Cinquefoil is a low growing non-invasive perennial and it produces low growing, long trailing woody stems that produce a low carpet of narrow, silvery-green, serrated strawberry looking leaves that will hang out over the water surface providing essential cover for wildlife.  This plant makes an excellent marginal plant for the edges of ponds and grows in 0-2 cm of shallow water.



Attracting An Abundance Of Bees

My favourite thing about this plant is the amount of Bees it attracts. During the summer months of June and July, Purple Marshwort produces masses of maroon coloured flowers that look a little bit like miniature Wild Roses.  These small flowers are a favourite of Bees, Hoverflies and various other pollinating insects.


I strongly recommend Potentilla Palustris as an essential, native marginal pond plant, and especially if you are a Bee Keeper!



This plant will give you a real buzz….

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Soleirolia Soleirolii (Mind-Your-Own-Business)

Soleirolia Soleirolii (Mind-Your-Own-Business)

Also often listed as Helxine Soleirolii, though mostly known under the common name Mind-Your-Own-Business, this very versatile moisture loving plant grows happy in sun, partial and/or full shade and has many other names including, Baby Tears, Angels Tears, Irish Moss, Bread and Cheese, Friendship Plant, Pollyana Vine, Corsican Carpet, Polly Prim, Paddy’s Wig, Peace in the Home, Corsican Creeper, and  lastly Bits and Pieces.   It’s a very low growing mat forming plant that creeps over and around every contour of rocks, stones and logs, and can even be found growing up walls keeping any architecture under its thousands of tiny, bright green leaves.




Uses in the Water Garden

Mind-Your-Own-Business is one of my favorite creeping plants that has a place in almost all water gardens,  it is a excellent choice for covering exposed pond liner where it will stop growing when it meets the water’s edge, it is favored as a entrance and exit plant for adult and infant Newts, Frogs and Toads. But it also particularly effective when grown around formal pond paving and planted throughout rockeries and nooks and crannies.  Under and around waterfalls it looks the plant really come into its own when planted amongst Ferns.  Here at Lilies Water Gardens, we also have a popular cultivar called Soleirolia Soleirolii Silver.   For more information and images, please click on the link below.



Soleirolia Soleirolii (species green form)

Soleirolia Soleirolii (silver cultivar)

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Double Flowered Water Lilies

Double Flowered Water Lilies

The sight of a pond or lake covered in Water Lily blooms is certainly a sight to see.  Looking at hundreds of perfectly shaped flowers sitting on the water surface is just glorious.   Personally, in the past I have always favored  the traditional star shaped blooms rather than the old style double hybrids, though in the past few years, thanks to a number of recent hybridize-rs, double flowered Water Lilies have taken on a whole new exciting look.  This might just be my shortest written article as the pictures below speak for themselves.

For an extensive range of truly spectacular Water Lilies with blooms that come in all shapes, sizes and colors, please visit my website












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What is a Free Floating Pond Plant?


What is a Free Floating Pond Plant?


I have written this article because there seems to be a lot of confusion and incorrect information over the internet and in books, about non-invasive free floating pond plants.  Most free floating pond plants are very invasive and this needs to be taken into consideration when introducing them to your water garden environment.


Lemna Species (Duckweeds) and Azolla Species (Floating Ferns)

There are different species of both of the above and I can promise you, that they are the last free floating pond plants that you would ever want to introduce to your pond.  Unfortunately, this cannot always be avoided as they can be introduced on the feet or backs of visiting wildlife such as Frogs and Waterfowl.  There are however good treatments such as Eco-Pond Duckweed treatment available to buy that will keep the dreaded Duckweed under control in ponds that are already contaminated.


Tropical free floating pond plants

This group of plants are not frost hardy but great for growing outside in the UK, but only during the summer months.  From mid-May through to Autumn unfortunately they get killed off by the first frosts of the approaching winter.   Salvinia Natans, Limnobium Spongia (American Frog Bit), and different species and cultivars of Water Lettuce, will spread fast during the summer months and provide essential surface cover for pond wildlife helping combat Algae and Blanket Weed problems.  Unfortunately, the sale of Eichornia Crassipes (Water Hyacinths), has now become illegal to sell due to a ridiculous EU ban as the plant will NOT under any circumstances survive a UKwinter outside anywhere






Stratiotes Aloides (Water Soldiers)

This plant is Not a free floating pond plant, but is however, still listed as a free floating pond plant on my website.  It is categorized in every book, web-page and magazine as a free floating pond plant so unfortunately, I have no choice but to categorize it in the same way!!!


EXPLANATION – Water Soldiers over winter as mature plants on the bottom of the pond.  In spring, they produce babies on runners, much the same as spider plants do and these babies mature in size growing  up to the water surface on long roots that are tucked into the silt below where they take up essential nutrients for their growth.  Water Soldiers can grow in water up to 5ft in depth and they emerge from the water in the summer as mature plants looking rather like the top of a Pineapple sinking to the bottom of the pond again in the autumn where they go dormant for the winter, life-cycle completed.  These plants should be categorized as a Deep Water Submerged Aquatic Plants but definately not as free floating plants







Our Only True Non-Invasive Free Floating Pond Plant

Hydrocharis Morsus Ranae, better known as Frog bit, is a pretty non-invasive plant spending its life over wintering as small seed capsules in the silt at the bottom of the pond.  In spring, the capsules float and the small emerged floating plants grow to maturity in just a few weeks.  They spread across the pond during the spring and summer months on runners and produce small white flowers that die back to capsules in the autumn and sink back to the depths, thus completing the life-cycle






Please visit our category of Free Floating Pond Plants on our website for availability from May onwards.

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10 Must Have Submerged Deep Water Pond Plants


 10 Must Have Submerged Deep water Pond Plants


Submerged pond plants play an essential role in maintaining a healthy pond.  Releasing oxygen into the water and taking up excessive nitrate levels at the same time, they create a perfect balanced environment for all pond life.  Some deep water plants are just water foliage plants whilst others produce underwater and water surface leaves that take on a completely different shape when they grow out of the water.


Sagittaria Graminea (Narrow Leafed Arrowhead)

This plant can be categorized both as a marginal and a submerged aquatic plant.  It has narrow evergreen submerged leaves that oxygenate the water and make a favourite breeding ground for Newts that fold the leaves around their eggs for protection.  This form of Sagittaria, also produces a mass display of attractive white flowers in the spring and early summer.




Vallisneria Spiralis (Tape Grass)

This underwater oxygenating plant works wonders in maintaining crystal clear water.  Also another favoured plant for Newts to lay their eggs on.



Justicea Americana (Water Willow)

We might just be the only water garden nursery that offers this rare but easy to grow beauty. Water Willow produces stunning, Orchid looking flowers and small elongated leaves that emerge about 12 inches out of the water throughout the summer.




 Persicaria Amphibian (Amphibious Bistort)

Another great submerged plant that produces pink flowers that stand up out of the water throughout the summer.  This plant has elongated floating leaves resulting in a very attractive natural look.




Ranunculus Aquatilis (Water Crowfoot)

Water Crowfoot looks great everywhere and grows in still and flowing water.  It has submerged leaves that look completely different when growing out of water when water levels are low. It’s an excellent oxygenating plant and things just get better.  This amazing plant produces hundreds of attractive, floating green leaves (size of a 10p), and a carpet of floating white flowers throughout the spring and early summer.  I believe a definite MUST for all ponds and streams.




Stratiotes Aloides (Water Soldiers)

This very interesting plant is always sold incorrectly as a free floating pond plant.  In fact, it is a submerged aquatic plant that grows up to the water surface on long roots that feed off the rich silt from the bottom of the pond.  Water Soldiers emerge out of the water in the summer giving the appearance of floating Pineapple tops with small white flowers in the leaf axils.  The underwater leaves produce oxygen and are another favourite for breeding Newts.



 Orontium Aquaticum (Golden Club)

This stunning plant is more of a deep marginal plant rather than a deep water submerged plant so it’s another plant that is always categorized wrongly.  However, due to its popularity and incorrect category listings, I have decided to list it in this article.  Golden Club has the most unusual, elongated white and yellow flowers that have no petals.  It takes time to establish but this very low maintenance plant is well worth the investment.



 Hottonia Palustris (Water Violet)

This oxygenating plant can be a bit fussy.  It favours clay bottomed ponds but will also grow quite happily  in manmade lined or fibreglass ponds but only if they are established with a good 3-4 inches of silt.  Water Violet has ferny looking, bright green underwater foliage and in late spring/early summer sends up a sparingly amount of stems that emerge and flower about 12 inches out of the water.




Apponogeton Distachyos (Water Hawthorn)

This one has a long history of being the most popular of all the submerged pond plants and for good reasons! It produces large, elongated, oval shaped glossy green leaves that float on the water surface along with masses of attractive, vanilla scented flowers that also sit on the water surface. In the heat of the summer, this plant goes dormant and quite literally disappears as it dies back to a bulb state under the soil, silt or clay.  When the water cools as autumn approaches, this amazing pond plant comes back to life and will flower right through the winter and spring until the water becomes warm again.  Apponogeton leaves can however, look a bit frost damaged but always replaced with fresh green leaves within a few days after a cold spell.



 Callitriche Hamulata (water starwort)

This species of Callitriche is very rarely sold though it is actually a very attractive, easy oxygenating plant to grow.  It grows much denser than Callitriche Stagnalis.   Callitriche Hamulata is a terrestrial plant, (growing submerged and on land), making it ideal for planting at the water’s edge where it forms low dense mats of bright green foliage, creating a safe entrance and exit for all kind of pond visiting wildlife.


Please visit our website to see our full range category of “oxygenating, deep water and submerged pond plants”.

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The Waterlily Mystique

The Waterlily Mystique

This article was written by Amita Raval who spent the summer of 2017 working at Lilies Water Gardens, Amita has a gifted appreciation and interest in the natural world and its history and its impact on the human cultural world, hope you enjoy!

 A single waterlily rises from the still pool before you, taking your breath away with its startling perfection, its enchanting creamy-rose spiral of petals. By evening it will be all but invisible, hiding its remarkable beauty until the sun rises again. For now it stands proud yet serene, lifted effortlessly just above the water’s surface on slender stem.

How many sages, mystics and healers have contemplated such an image and found therein some transcendental invitation? For how long have humans been attracted by the enduring mystique of the waterlily, arguably one of the most recognized sacred symbols in nature?


The name ‘waterlily’ is principally applied to plants of the genus Nymphaea, which name associates them with Greek and Roman nymphs, mythological inhabitants of springs, streams and wells. Nelumbo (more accurately described as lotus) and Nuphar are also sometimes referred to as waterlilies, but this tends to cause confusion in terms of botanical accuracy.

In Ancient Egypt the waterlily was a powerful symbol of creation and rebirth, perhaps because Nymphaea Lotus, the native white species, opens in the morning with the sun and closes at night. The stunning plant was therefore associated with the sun god Ra; the Creator was said to have been born from a waterlily; and the flower regularly appeared as a motif of divinity and honor.

Of course, the white lily has a better-known, and perhaps even more striking relative connected with the ancient Egyptians. Nymphaea Caerulea, the Blue ‘Lotus’ or Sacred Blue Lily was used as a spiritual sacrament for its psychoactive properties: the flowers were steeped in wine and drunk ceremonially to induce euphoria. There is some discussion as to whether the Lotus-Eaters of Homer’s Odyssey might refer to the same blue lily.

On another continent, the Mayans are also believed to have discovered the effects of ingesting waterlily, this time probably Nymphaea Ampla, as a ritual hallucinogen. Depictions of waterlilies have been found on various Mayan artefacts including altars and ceramics.

Hindu iconography blossoms with the Indian pale-pink lotus Nelumbo Nucifera, as a symbol of rebirth and enlightenment, testament to its capacity to re-emerge from the driest of riverbeds once the rains begin, reaching up through the muddiest waters to open spectacular, pristine flowers. Many deities are depicted holding the flower in one hand, while Vishnu and Lakshmi both appear seated on one.

In addition, each of the chakras is shown as a lotus with different numbers of petals, again representing a person’s ascent to enlightenment up to the crown chakra of a thousand petals.

The Buddha is another often seated on a lotus, a key symbol in Buddhism and perhaps the origin of the cross-legged ‘lotus’ position.

On a more practical note, Native Americans used various parts of the Nymphaea Odorata plant as a source of food.

Finally, the humble yet beautiful white Nymphaea Alba, native to the UK and Europe, though less associated with spiritual iconography, is equally deserving of attention. They are incredibly hardly, able to regrow from the tiny pieces of healthy rhizome, and surviving temperatures of -30°C and solid ice. They simply go dormant over winter and flower again the following spring even after the harshest conditions.

The white waterlily is also said to be psychoactive; there are differing opinions as to preparation and dosage, but the most common recipes seem to be tea or wine containing the buds. (This writer cannot confirm the efficacy of said concoctions and always advises caution with the consumption of mind-altering substances.)

Even stripped of their spiritual or religious connotations, waterlilies are truly remarkable plants: their sheer determination to live through extremes of heat, cold or drought epitomises the fortitude of nature. Conversely, they suffer in strongly flowing or splashing water, meaning they are most often found in tranquil pools, manifestations of the peace that surrounds them.

Who could witness such a scene and not feel a touch of the sacred, even if only as a wonder of the natural world? Perhaps, in the end, this is all we really need to discover the highest spiritual connection. Perhaps this is what we humans have been seeking since the existence of ancient civilisations in our fascination with the mystical, alluring waterlily.

‘The soul walks not upon a line, neither does it grow like a reed. The soul unfolds itself like a lotus of countless petals.’


Written by a friend

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Pond Plants that complement each other


Pond Plants that complement each other


I used to exhibit at a lot of garden shows, one such show being the RHS Hampton Court Palace Show.   Setting up and creating our feature gardens was a mammoth task, which is sadly why after 14 show gardens over 16 years, I finally decided to stop.  Our last show garden at Hampton Court was in 2007. All the planting at these shows was a learning process  as we had to make sure that every plant was planted up in the correct and certain way for every different type of garden we created over the years.  Also, the garden planting design was always about colour, height, different foliage, and over all, natural balance.  One of the things we soon learnt, was to make sure that we had a small combination of plants which we knew the judges would always comment on favourably after judging had finished.


To Be Tried At Home

The list below was a winning combination and which we used over multiple years in our show gardens.   These plants, when planted up together, will give a natural, wild looking summer display of white, blue and yellow flowers which will all flower at the same time giving an amazing and beautiful complimentary display of summer colour.  This combination of Marginal and Bog-Garden plants are suitable for marginal planting, shallow muddy margins and bog-gardens.



Ranunculus Flammula (Yellow)






Myasotis Mermaid OR Myasotis Palustris (Blue)








Myasotis Palustris Alba (White)








Happy planting!

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