Colour in the water

Potting the waterlilies into larger containers in April was a messy job but it was worth it and now they are in much larger baskets and in the big pond they have grown well. There are eight different cultivars in here and they vary a lot in vigour and the number of blooms they have produced. When they were crowded in the small pond last year it was difficult to sort out which was which but now they have space I can tell that all but two have bloomed. And then, this week, one of the more recalcitrant plants put up a bud. And now it has bloomed. And while I like every one of the blooms, whatever the colour, this is definitely my favourite – until the next one opens.

This is ‘Perry’s Fire Opal’ * It is not named after the famous old Perry’s nursery in Enfield but the prolific American nymphaea and lotus breeder Perry Slocum and it was introduced in 1987. It is a medium-sized lily that needs a water depth (over the crown) of 30-75cm. I have a wide range of colours including reds but these are always a bit dusky in shade but this one is neon, fuchsia pink enhanced by the orange anthers that provide an inner glow and I love it. It received the International Waterlily and Water Gardening Society’s America Award in 1990. It was the first Odorata waterlily to receive the award. The flowers are supposed to be fragrant but I have not waded in or picked one to discover that yet.

Just the one bloom so far but now it is settled and established I hope I get more before the end of summer. Most nymphaea bloom from late June to September here. The pond is in full sun although it is part shaded by the house in the early morning but ‘Perry’s Fire Opal’ is in the least shaded part of the pond. Some references state that this is a slow grower and it certainly seems less vigorous than some of the others.

Completely unrelated apart from geographically because it is in a pot nearby, Ageratum corymbosum, or what I grow under that name, is proving, in its second year with me, to be a real gem. Plants under this name often have gorgeous leaves with purple hairs but my plant is only slightly hairy and very like a large, regular ageratum. It loves the good living in a pot where it is well fed and watered and although it can reach 1m high it tends to sprawl. The best plants are in a pot where it fights for space with Pelargonium capitatum and the pink flowers contrast nicely with the velvety blue of the ageratum. It is supposed to be a magnet for bees and butterflies but it seems to be largely ignored. The bees much prefer the pelargonium blooms. The ageratum is not hardy, though it doesn’t need a lot of heat in winter to keep it going, and cuttings have, so far, proved easy to root. I am taking more now, although it is difficult to find shoots without flowers for cuttings. I ought to cut a plant back to make new shoots although I could also lift and keep an old plant, cut it back and use it as a mother plant so I can take cuttings in spring.

I have an aversion to ageratum but that is solely because of the dwarf habit of modern, seed-raised kinds. Tall kinds are available from seed and these are much better. They are usually offered in a mix of blue, rather dull pink and dirty white but A. corymbosum is a true delight, with flowers of a luminous blue and I need to get adventurous with it next year.

*Because of so many wrongly named plants I seem to have bought I will not put money on this being the name – but it does seem right.

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2 Comments on “Colour in the water”

  1. Paddy Tobin
    August 19, 2022 at 12:13 pm #

    Our little pond cries out for a major cleanup but I continue to put it on the long finger! Beautiful lilies!

  2. tonytomeo
    August 21, 2022 at 1:08 am #

    Six waterlilies were added to a drainage pond here, and grew impressively fast. However, they have not yet bloomed. I did not intend fo the pond to become an ‘ornamental’ feature, but now that everyone else likes it, I am getting to appreciate it.

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