Botanical Buzz | Memories of water lillies to kick the winter chills

Go to your happy place: The memory of pretty colours floating on a still pond is a potent remedy for winter chills.

Go to your happy place: The memory of pretty colours floating on a still pond is a potent remedy for winter chills.

Now that I have your attention I can tell you what happened when I waded out into the Shoyoen Japanese Garden pond last spring to submerge some water lilies.

Of course you won’t see any in flower in the cold of winter as they love full sun, and hot days.

In winter they simply disappear and go dormant.

I can see you raising questions.

How come a big carry-on about a plant with a present no-show?

Answer: The memory of pretty colours floating on a still pond is a potent remedy for winter chills.

You agree?

Or do you imagine yourself lying flat on your back in the wintery pond, arms outstretched, while your ears, half under water, go purple with chill, and your lips tremble around your jittering teeth, so much, that the memory of fragile pink waterlilies is but an absurd illusion; taunting you, as your brain freezes over and your eyes begin to mirror the mental shut-down going on inside. Enough!

That’s not what I meant at all. When the wind-chill factor has you deciding two pair of socks are better than one, as you grab a jacket to stretch into over your pullover, that is the time to take shelter in remembered glorious warm colours as they float on tepid, gulf stream-like, amoeba-rich pond water, as the sun glints happily in a dreamy dazzle off the quartz in the rock around the bank.

It was such a splendid day when I drew on my plastic wader-pants which reached unfashionably up to my ribs.

When I unbuttoned and rolled up my shirt sleeves to then push the pondweed aside in the Shoyoen lake and wade forward, as I plunged a newly potted Double White Waterlily into the depths.

Beside me on the bank a flock of drakes and ducks kept a sharp eye on me as they waddled and craned their necks.

We have pale yellow ‘Marliacea Chromatella’ waterlily, with large spread over a long season. Garnet red to white tips ‘Conqueror’ is a large waterlily.

The one I most fancy is ‘Strawberry Pink’ which possibly is ‘Caroliniana Perfecta.’

Said to be the prettiest pink with star-shaped, scented flowers.

Everyone has to have a white and ours is ‘Double Gonnere,’ with yellow centres.

There I was, wading in to set a newly made pot under water.

I fingered the stones on top of the pot as I moved forward among the Koi fish.

Reaching down, I carefully placed the pot.

Suddenly as I nudged it upright the whole pot did a double flip, upending all in a bubble and gush of water.

How infuriating!

My next successful attempt had the stones on the base of the pot as ballast.

When I recall the white, yellow, red, and pink colours my present winter chills seem to melt almost physically away.

Almost is way better than none at all, don’t you agree?

If only Water lillies were a plant for all seasons.