This section is from the book "How To Make A Flower Garden", by Wilhelm Miller. Also available from Amazon: The Well-Tended Perennial Garden: Planting and Pruning Techniques.
Before anything is done in the way of construction, the water-supply must be assured, especially if there is danger of prolonged drought. Provision must also be made against a freshet after heavy rains, in case the pond is fed by a stream; otherwise the occupants might be swept clean out of the pond, or buried under a mass of sand or other material carried along by the freshet. In all artificial basins an overflow should be provided, to serve the double purpose of overflow and outlet. The size of the pipe may vary from two to four inches, according to the size of the pond. A four-inch pipe is large enough for a pond of five thousand superficial feet. A smaller pipe than two inches would carry off the surplus water of a small pond, but it is liable to become choked with light floating matter. The overflow pipe should be made in at least two sections, with screw joints, an elbow terminating the outlet and level with the bottom of the basin, or slightly depressed, the overflow pipe being fitted into the latter and terminating with a collar.
Never plant a newly constructed basin or pond built of masonry or concrete without giving the same a thorough soaking and change of water; otherwise, the caustic property of the cement will destroy the plants, fish, or any living thing.
Lotus in a farmer's yard.
The white water-lily of the South, as it grows at State Line, Miss., in a pond fifty by one hundred and twenty feet, belonging to Mrs. M. S. Gaines.
The selection of varieties requires much careful consideration. Not all nymphaeas are adapted for every mode of culture. For example, any one who selects for tub culture such a rampant grower as Nymphcea tuberosa is sure to be disappointed. It is difficult to give advice, because individual tastes must be consulted. Some prefer decided colours, others white or pink, or yellow shading to red. The locality and section of the country must also be taken into consideration. In the northern and eastern States and mountainous districts better results are obtained from the hardy nymphæas and nelumbiums. The season is often short for the latter, and tender nymphæas, if grown at all, should be extra large plants; as it is not safe to plant out before June 1st, and in some sections not before June 10th. In such cases it is better to confine the selection of tender nymphaeas to the day-flowering kinds. Around New York City and south and south westward any species or variety can be grown. A selection may be made comprising all nymphæas, both hardy and tender, day- and night-flowering, nelumbiums victor'as, and miscel aneous plants. The season begins in April, and by the latter end of the month Nymphcea Laydekeri rosea is in blossom.
The latter can be relied upon every time; it is not only the first - it is also the last of the season. Some of the hardy nymphæas are short-lived, or rather the season of flowering is short - e. g.,the Cape Cod pink pond-lily, N. odorata rosea. In fact, the typical N. odorata and its numerous hybrids, together with N. tuberosa and its forms, are also short-lived. Their season is on the wane by the Fourth of July. Although the European varieties hold out longer, the flowers are much smaller, and colours begin to fade. But by Independence Day the nelumbiums in many shades of colour attract our attention, as do also the tender nymphæas. From July until September the tender nymphæas, with their gorgeous colours and gigantic size, dominate the water garden, and the hardy ones still remaining in blossom are almost totally eclipsed by their Oriental brethren.
An aquatic basin twenty by fifty feet will afford a superficial space of one thousand feet. The soil in which the nymphæas are to be planted may be placed directly on the bottom, or, better still, boxes three to four feet square and one foot deep may be used instead. The soil should be a moderately stiff, fibrous loam, and thoroughly rotten manure, one part manure to two of loam, the whole being composted, if possible, in the fall for spring use In a pond of the above dimensions ten plants of tender nymphæas will cover the whole surface. It is not unusual, in the region of Philadelphia, for a single plant of the night-flowering varieties to measure twelve feet across. Thus, allowing each plant its individuality, six plants of tender nymphæas will suffice for such a pond. But supposing the pond is planted with hardy nymphæas, it would require three of the latter in place of one tender nymphæa - at least for the first season, if immediate effect is desired. Instead of planting in clumps of three, any one who prefers variety may set one plant each of twelve distinct varieties. Hardy and tender nymphæas may be grown in the same pond, if desired; also lotus in variety.
The latter must necessarily be confined to a given space, being grown either in a large tub or in a walled-in section.
Pitcher plant in flower (Sarracenia purpurea). This plant may be naturalised at the side of a pond.
The following twelve hardy nymphæas represent the best (regardless of their selling prices) adapted to an artificial aquatic basin, the best six being marked with a *: Arethusa, Andreana, Gloriosa, *James Brydon,*Marliacea albida, *Marliacea chromatella, *Marliacea rosea, Marliacea flammea, Marliacea rubra punctata, Robinsoni, *William Doogue, *William Falconer.
Victoria regit in flower (The upturned leaf-margin of the Victoria makes it unique).
The question may arise as to the omission of such grand varieties as N. Gladstoniana, N. tuberosa Richardsonii, and N. odorata Caroliniana. They are out of place in an aquatic basin of ordinary size, because their growth is too vigorous; they are better adapted to the natural pond, and to places where they do not require to be replanted periodically. Other charming varieties, such as N. Laydekeri rosea, N. helvola, etc., are also omitted; they are so small that they are better adapted to small pools, fountain basins, and tubs. However, they may be planted in the same pond with strong-growing species, provided there is a suitable corner where the more vigorous plants will not encroach upon their domain.
If any one wants twelve tender nymphæas, six of them being day-flowering and six night-flowering, I should recommend: N. Capensis, blue; N. gracilis, white; Mrs. C. W. Ward, pink; N. pulcherrima, blue; Wm, Stone, blue; N. Zanzibarensis rosea, pink; N. dentata, white; George Huster, crimson; Frank Trelease, crimson; O'Marana, pink-red; Jubilee, white; N. rubra rosea, carmine.
Nelumbiums are all good, and all require most liberal culture to obtain the best results. Those of decided colours are: N. album grandiflorum, white; N. kermesinum, pink; N. roseum, deep pink. The most vigorous and commendable varieties are: Shiroman, white, double, extra choice; N. Pekinensis rubrum, brilliant rosy carmine, large and handsome, and its double counterpart, N. Pekinensis rubrum plenum. The forms of N. pygmœa are beautiful, but they do not command attention beside the nobler species of the type.