In a dry country like Australia there’s something wonderful about water gardens, they’re relaxing and they just feel fabulous to be in & there’s so many wonderful, plants that you can grow. The obvious one is water lilies, which are available in virtually every colour of the rainbow. They have beautiful, floating leaves and really are unforgettable plants.
There are essentially two types of water lilies the native (or Tropical Water Lily) and the hardy or European Water Lily, which is the more commonly grown sort that also thrives in cooler climates.
There are also the miniature varieties of water lilies which are really charming and by far the best variety for water pots & containers because the leaves aren’t much bigger than a 50c coin.
Water lilies flower from spring until late autumn with a peak in summer. Tropical water lilies flower later than the European and their flowers are held around 10-15 cm above the water, unlike the European Water Lilies whose flower sit at water level. Both types require at least 5-6 hours of full sunlight each day to flower well.
Water lilies are grown in their pots, which are placed on the bottom of a pond or water pot and the leaves (at the end of long stems) float on the waters surface.
Water lilies should be repotted every 2-3 years and can be divided (split into 2 or 3) pots at this time.
Prices for water lilies range from approximately $20-$50
Rushes & Reeds:
Don showed a young specimen of the Delta Club Rush, with beautiful blue green foliage planted in a water pot (ie a pot with no holes in the bottom & filled with water). In time they grow very, very dense & adore watery conditions. There are many types of reeds & rushes available at water garden nurseries around Australia. The current (November) issue of the Burke’s Backyard magazine has an article on some of the most interesting Reeds and Rushes.
There are many irises from all around the world with large, beautiful flowers that adore growing in & around water. In the wild they often grow in swamps. The Louisiana Iris & the Japanese irises are available in Australia in a huge range of colours.
Elephants Ears or Alocasias
If you like giant foliage you can’t go past elephant’s ears. They too will grow in water, there are green varieties & of course there’s the blackish variety as well. Alocasias do best in warm, frost-free climates (in cool areas they die down during winter). They like high humidity, bright light and of course, plenty of water.
If you’ve got a big pond, the worlds best water plant is the lotus. In a big pond the leaves will often get to 60cm across, with gigantic flowers in creams, yellows pinks & even white. The leaves are quite magical when you put water on them; the water glides like mercury on the leaves, silvery drops that run off the leaf leaving no trace behind. Kids really enjoy tipping water on the leaves, but of course children should always be supervised around water, ponds & pools.
The fragrant flowers develop into decorative seedpods, which can be used in flower arrangements. Lotus plants die back at the end of summer and early autumn. In winter allow the water level to drop to around 15cm in cooler regions, so that the water remains warmer. Overcrowded pots can be divided in late winter or early spring. Lotus plant range in price from around $35 to $100.
Nardoo is one of the world’s most interesting water plants. Nardoo or Marsilea looks like a four leaf clover but it’s actually a fern. It’s a fern that grows under water & it’s recorded in history because it’s what Burke & Wills were eating when they starved to death near Coopers Creek, while trying to traverse the Australian continent from south to north. The local Aboriginal people roasted the spore cases (or sporocarps) of the nardoo, before grinding them up & mixing them with water & then eating them. Burke & Wills, when preparing their own Nardoo neglected to heat the sporocarps first, leaving an enzyme called thiaminase behind, this enzyme essentially causes the body to be unable to metabolise & use food & so they starved to death. Never the less, Nardoo is a very pretty water plant that can be used in large or small ponds.
For all the theology buffs, Papyrus is of course the plant that Moses was found in. A wonderful plant with long, tall stems & a tuft of thin grassy leaves at the top. Papyrus is a striking plant & has been used over the millennia to make paper, mats & all sorts of things, notably by the ancient Egyptians. There’s also a miniature papyrus which only grows about 50cm All papyri love growing in water and make great pond plants with wonderful geometry.
Our story was filmed at:
Austral Water Gardens 1295 Pacific Hwy
Cowan NSW 2081
(02) 9985 7370 www.australwatergardens.com.au
Water plants are also available from:
Check out your local nursery or buy online.
Paradise Aquatic Nursery. www.watergardenparadise.com.au Mail order only Ph: (02)-9727 2622
Sydney Water Gardens & Bringelly Nursery www.sydneywatergardens.com 909 Bringelly Road, Bringelly NSW 2171 Ph: (02) 4774 8186
BLUE LOTUS WATER FARM
Warburton Highway Yarra Junction 3797 VIC
14 Acre Display Garden of aquatic plants, nursery, boutique & café. Mail Order Available all year round, Plants Posted Australia Wide
DRAGONFLY AQUATICS VIC. PH (03) 5236 6320
SOPHIA’S GARDEN www.sophiasgarden.com.au 161 Beaudesert-Nerang Rd, Nerang QLD (07) 5578 2676
AQUATIC DREAMS www.aquaticdreams.com.au North Brisbane, QLD –Mail Order
WOODVALE FISH & LILY FARM www.woodvalefishandlilyfarm.com.au 26 Woodvale Drive, Woodvale (08) 9409 924
www.fishandlily.com.au ( in WA)