Can you honestly say you’ve ever looked at a Monet painting and not wanted to grow water lilies? Over a lifetime of gardening, I’ve tried, with some success and as many failures.
It’s been nearly four years since the inception of my tiny courtyard garden. My plan was always to find a way to indulge my passion for water lilies, albeit on a very reduced scale. I built a pond in a pot, equipped it with a solar pump and populated it with fish and frogs.
Then I purchased a single pot of delicate pink waterlilies, reading up on ideal conditions, like correct water depth and amount of sun required. The first year was the best. The leaves covered the surface of the pond and the beautiful blooms came thick and fast.
This year there were no blooms. Nor were there many leaves, and those that did appear were small and sickly looking. It was obvious something was wrong. A little research revealed the likely reason – the plants needed dividing and re-potting.
Heavy clay soil is recommended, followed by a layer of fine gravel and then small stones to prevent the soil washing out of the submerged pot to muddy the water. I discovered prepackaged soils are not ideal if one’s fish are to be preserved.
But where to find heavy clay soil near my beach-side home?
I visited swamps in the area, attempting to dig heavy soil from the banks. The densely matted root system of paper barks and other aquatic plants made this almost impossible, not to mention, probably illegal. My daughter called from the bank ‘wade in further Mum! It may be easier to dig away from the bank.’ Easy for her to say. My mind’s eye could see tomorrow’s headlines:
‘WOMAN TAKEN BY CROC TRYING TO GET SOIL FOR HER WATER LILIES.’
Oh alright! I do exaggerate a little. Crocodiles are not usually found this far south. But the eels can be large and ill-tempered. I’ve seen them take ducklings and signets.
Gardeners are by nature resourceful, so I decided to take another approach, find another way.
I divided and re-potted my waterlilies using the same heavy clay from the original pot, adding worm castings, new layers of gravel and more stones. Then I poked special ‘fish friendly’ pellets of fertiliser around the bulbs. Now I had two pots of water lilies.
That was two weeks ago. Several leaves have since sprung from the divided bulbs. If you look carefully at the photos below, you’ll see the waterlily bulb sprouting new leaves. It can’t be too long before a bud appears.
Sometimes, the situation is only a problem because it is looked at in a certain way. Looked at in another way, the right course of action may be so obvious that the problem no longer exists.