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Thursday, March 04, 2004

Water gardening with lotus 

As I was drifting off to sleep last night, I heard in the background the soothing sound of the pool’s waterfall. That sound reminded me how eager my husband and I are to build a water garden. We haven’t had one since we moved south about eight years ago. We didn’t have the room at the other house so kept putting it off. But now we can finally have a beautiful pond by incorporating it into the new landscaping around the pool.

I still have all my reference materials on how to build a water pond, what kind of fish will thrive, what water plants to choose, etc., etc. I can’t wait to start leafing through my books and making notes on what will work best in our space.

Two of the best references for water gardening we have in our gardening library are:

Both books provide easy step-by-step instructions for installing garden pools, large or small. Both offer design tips as well as comprehensive ideas on growing water lilies, lotus, and other aquatics. Additionally, they help the reader to understand what fish will be best for their plan.

Using these books, we built a beautiful water garden in our old house and had a number of Comets (a variety of goldfish) who reproduced approximately 2 times per year (although it seemed like it was much more often). We had marginal bog plants such as dwarf papyrus and arrowhead as well as a variety of water lilies and floating plants like shellflower and water hyacinth (pretty invasive in warmer climates but is killed back up north by frost). I will never forget when we finally purchased a Lotus (Nelumbo) plant called Momo Botan. I carefully researched the best lotus for our pond – it had to be a smaller size than other lotus, but produce beautiful flowers. That’s what Momo Botan (N. nucifera) does. The plant yields deep pink double blossoms resembling peony flowers that measure about 6 inches across. It is smaller than other lotus, with 1-18 inch wide foliage. To compare, some lotus actually stand 3 to 5 feet above the water with leaves 1-2 feet across. Momo is hardy in zones 5-10 and an excellent choice for small to medium-sized ponds.

I so look forward to a larger pond here in our new house and introducing one or two smaller lotus to the landscape. The Shirokunshi (N. nucifera) is also more compact and produces creamy white 6-8 inch wide, tulip-shaped flowers that are quite fragrant. If I pair that with the Momo Botan, I will have a gorgeous water garden to enjoy. I just hope the little Comets we introduce will agree and enjoy their new surroundings. We’ll keep you posted.

In the meantime, there are many great sources of information on water gardening such as LilyPons Water Gardens and Eponds. I hope you'll be listening to the relaxing trickle of water soon. Happy Gardening.

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Thanks to Andrew Stenning who contributed the photograph for our masthead

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