WATERGARDENING IN TEXAS
Water is an essential element, without which life cannot be long sustained.
Civilization's first settlements sprang up around rivers due to irrigation
and transportation needs. Soon various aquatic and bog plants were recognized
as a source of food and shelter. Certain aquatic plants also provided
food, such as rice, which is the most important crop species in the world.
Widespread though reverence for the lotus has been, most of our knowledge concerning the early uses of water plants has come from ancient Egypt, where nymphaeas, nelumbos, and papyruses in particular are widely represented on tomb wall paintings, found as dried blossoms in sarcophagi, and reproduced as decorative elements on pillars and columns in architecture. The use of flowers for social purposes was tremendously important to the ancient Egyptians. Following the anointing ceremony at a nobleman's reception, servants presented each guest with a lotus flower that was then either held in the hand or attached to the head before visitors entered the reception rooms.
At some period in their history, Indian poets have likened many parts of the human body to the Nelumbo. To the Chinese it typified female beauty, while the Japanese considered the plant an emblem of purity since the splendid flowers grew unsullied by the muddy waters of its habitat.
As civilizations grew and segregated into classes of the wealthy and the workers, those who could afford to began to have homes built away from the farming areas but wanted to bring with them the beauties of these areas. These gardens, though at first for food and medicinal herbs, soon became elaborate display areas. Eventually the upper classes and royalty built gardens to bring the whole realm of the world to their front door. Gardens like Versailles in France soon stood for the opulence of the elite.
This opulence is still a much sought pleasure, but today anyone with the determination and a little money can have a water garden in his or her own backyard. Thanks to modern plastics, the back breaking, time consuming, labor and skill intensive processes of building a beautiful water garden have been reduced to a weekend job with only a minimum of easily learned skills.
In the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries, a flurry of Nymphaea species were sent to Europe from around the world, heightening interest in waterlilies and ponds. News of the successful cultivation and flowering of Victoria by Joseph Paxton at Chatsworth in England in 1849 spread far and wide.This set the stage for the first waterlily hybrids to be made. The first generally accepted as a true hybrid was N. 'Ortgiesiano-rubra' by Eduard Ortgies at the Van Houtte nurseries in Belgium and the second was N. 'Boucheana' by Carl Bouché in Germany. Both of these were night blooming tropicals, created in 1852. William T. Baxter at Oxford Botanic Garden in England introduced a hybrid day blooming tropical, N. 'Daubenyana', possibly as early as 1851, named for Dr. Charles Daubeny.Though much of the cultivation and study of aquatic plants was going on in England, Belgium and Germany, it was the Frenchman Joseph Bory Latour-Marliac who, at the turn of the twentieth century, created hardy waterlily hybrids that set the standard for all who followed.
Another Frenchman, Antoine Lagrange, created wonderful tropical hybrids but almost all of them are lost to cultivation.Interest in ponds and waterlilies spread to America where E. Sturtevant, William Tricker and James Gurney led the way, and Henry S. Conard published his landmark monograph, The Waterlilies, in 1905. George Pring soon made Missouri Botanical Garden the aquatic Mecca of the United States. In the 1930's Martin E. Randig and Otto Beldt introduced their first waterlilies.
Our contemporary legends of hybridizing and collecting of aquatic plants are hybridizers Bill Frase, Perry Slocum (deceased) , Johan Harder, Clyde Ikins (http://aggie-horticulture.tamu.edu/plantanswers/heroes/ikins.html ) (deceased), Kirk Strawn (http://aggie-horticulture.tamu.edu/plantanswers/heroes/strawn/strawn.html), and Ken Landon ( http://aggie-horticulture.tamu.edu/plantanswers/heroes/landon/landon2.html ).
There are many plants available for use in water gardens. One should have a clear plan as to how many plants, including water-lilies, are expected to be used in the water garden and how they are to be arranged before actually purchasing the plants. A simple sketch showing water-lilies as the feature plant group is really all that is necessary. Supplemental species such as those to be placed along water margins should also be included.
There are certain considerations to be taken into account. Most considerations, such as water depth, amount of sunlight, and how each species relates to its surroundings should have been considered during the design phase. Floating leafed and submerged plants are necessary for a healthy pond and must be included in your selection. The following is a partial list of two main categories of watergarden(1) Floating leafed plants Usually water lilies. Plant enough to cover 50 to 75 percent of the surface area of the pond, or approximately one for every 10 square feet of surface area (there are dwarf varieties for barrel gardens).
Floating leafed plants will cover the surface of the water to a point that will, if done correctly, limit the amount of light reaching the depths of the pond holding algae growth in check. Thus, Lotus (Nelumbo spp.), which hold their leaves above the surface of the pond, do not contribute to this maintenance tool and are considered under Bog or Marginal Plants.
Water lilies (Nymphaea spp.) are of two types, tropical and hardy. Tropical water lilies in turn are divided into day and night bloomers. Hardy water lilies are all day bloomers. Some hardy water lily flowers change color shades over the life of the bloom, adding to the character of these unique plants termed "Changeables." The following are the best-of-the-best of the waterlilies chosen by the leading growers and hybridizers in Texas. They are available at most watergarden suppliers.
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So if you want to beautify your landscape with a watergarden, “dive’ in.
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