Consider the lilies…


Gonnere, the Snowball Lily in the background, Attraction in the foreground


M. Carnea

Now, I’m no Claude Monet and this is certainly no Giverny, but you can dream, can’t you?

My favourite flower is probably the water lily, probably because it’s the first ever plant I bought, for myself, with my own money for my first pond, which I dug, all by myself,  when a young lad.

It was a light pink water lily; I would have liked a red one but my pocket money couldn’t stretch to that, so I made do with a pink one. And a bare-rooted one at that – they didn’t sell them in baskets in those days!


Gonnere – apologies for the over-exposure but this lily is seriously white!

Since then I’ve dug out a further three ponds, each one slightly bigger than the last.  This one, though, was designed for water lilies and most of it is relatively shallow (18″ or so) apart from a deep sump in the middle, originally designed to overwinter fish.

As I had hoped, the water lilies have survived the attention of the now-departed ducks and the recent hot sunny weather has made them all come into bloom. They’ll continue to flower, now, until well into September when the water starts to cool and the sun begins to weaken.

In addition to the native Brandy Bottle (Nuphar luteum), we have 6 species of Nymphea. Most floriferous are the two Marliaceas, Carnea (which incidentally was my first water lily all those years ago) –  a light pink, and Albida, a white with a yellow centre. Both are not too big, and ideal for a smallish pond. Another good flowerer is Attraction, a carmine red. We also have James Brydon, probably my favourite but a little shyer to flower – I look forward to seeing its wine-red peony- shaped flowers soon!



Probably the showiest in the pond is Gonnere, known as the Snowball Lily, and a photographer’s nightmare. It’s a brilliant snow-white double with masses of incurved petals – a real show-off!

And finally one which takes up a lot of space but doesn’t do very much, the yellow Colonel A. J. Welch. It does flower but with much reluctance  – perhaps the water is just a little too shallow? I might replace it one day with another Marliacea – Chromatella, this one with primrose yellow flowers.



Over the years, I hope to add to the collection. They’re not particularly cheap although I bought these ones bare-rooted from a marvellous nursery called Honeysome Aquatic Nursery, which is still going (; the plants are a fraction of the cost you’d pay in a garden centre and in much better condition!


waiting for James…the lily at the back without the flowers!

11 thoughts on “Consider the lilies…

  1. Pingback: The Last Attraction | The Scottish Country Garden

  2. they are beautiful! I’ve been trying to grow lilies in a container on my rooftop garden at work with no success. Is there anything that helps them? I’ve tried without soil (per the instructions) and then with but nothing happens!


    • Well, I’ve never grown water lilies in pots of water but I reckon the pygmy varieties might do pretty well. I’d probably plant them in a small round mesh crate using garden soil (not peat-based compost) and then place this inside your container. NB/ many water lilies have a rhizome that should effectively sit on top of the soil, not be planted in it (else it will rot!). This can be a bit of a fiddle but plant the rhizome on a ridge with the roots covered down either side and it should be fine. I used to grow a pygmy red and got loads of flowers. Oh, and they do need as much sun as you can throw at them! Roof top garden would be good in this department, I’d say! Good luck – do give it another go!


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