Lilies Water Gardens News

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 www.lilieswatergardens.co.uk

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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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 www.lilieswatergardens.co.uk 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 www.lilieswatergardens.co.uk 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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Instagram:@amita.raval.author

 

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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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Attracting Newts to Your Pond

 

Attracting Newts to Your Pond

 

One of the great things about owning a back garden pond is the amount of wildlife that it will attract, and if you follow a few easy guidelines, you should be lucky enough to attract and establish a colony of Newts. If you are still in the process of excavating a new pond, make sure there is a nice wide low gradient side (like a beach area), planted up with low growing marginal pond plants, this area will make a safe inviting entrance and a safe exit for adult and baby Newts as well as a vast range of other visiting wildlife. If your pond is already established with no beach areas and just marginal shelves, you can plant various trailing marginal plants, such as Potentilla Palustris.  Outside the pond in a adjoining border you may consider planting carpet spreading and creeping perennial plants that will hang down or creep to the water surface such as Mazus Reptans.  These plants will provide a climbing entrance and exit to your pond for your Newts.

 

 

 

 

 

 

If you have a healthy planted pond and a good quality water balance, you are more likely to encourage Frogs, Toads and Newts to breed in your pond.  You can plant up to two thirds of the pond with oxygenating, deep water and submerged pond plants.  Submerged pond plants have a wide range of delicate leaves which newts love to lay their eggs on.  In late spring and early summer, female Newts will lay their eggs individually on submerged leaves which they gently fold over the eggs to provide protection from various underwater predators.  Baby Newts leave the pond in late summer and won’t return to the water again for one or two years when they have become fully grown adults.   Adult Newts only spend time in the water for a few months during the breeding season and spend the rest of the year, living amongst and under dense vegetation or under cool stones and damp logs.

 

 

 

 

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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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