Where and when the nymphaeas can be used as cut flowers for a vase or table decoration nothing can surpass them in elegance. The day flowering species are, however, available for use only in the day time, unless some trouble is gone to. Prof. J. F. Cowell, of our Buffalo Botanic Garden, informs me that he is aware of a method by which the beautiful day flowering N. Zanzi-bariensis and its varieties can be utilized for evening decoration. It may not be generally known, but has been thoroughly tested. Cut the flowers in the morning, when at their very best, and put the stems at once in ice water. This seems to arrest their growth and prevents change either way. To use a rather awkward expression, it paralyzes them, and providing you keep the temperature close to the freezing point, the flowers will remain open throughout the night. The first experiment was made by scooping out a hole in a block of ice, within which the stems of the lilies were put with water, and there they remained till 12 o'clock at night, fully expanded.
To those who intend investing largely in aquatics, especially nymphaeas, the handsome work by Mr. William Tricker, "The Water Garden," will be found of great assistance.
New hybrid nymphaeas are being constantly sent out, all of great beauty, but those described here will be found, both in variety of color and in freedom of bloom, to be among the best.
The same general treatment will suit all. The hardy species can be left out all winter and will take care of themselves. The tender ones, among which are some of the finest, must be lifted after the first frost and their roots removed to the greenhouse. The roots can be placed in boxes or pots and covered with loam, which should be kept continually moist; in fact, as near the consistency of mud as possible, as that would be their natural state. The roots of all the nymphaeas are tuberous and they do not easily perish, provided they are not frozen or allowed to get too dry.
The nymphaeas are easily raised from seed, which can be sown in January or February in 4-inch pots of loam, keeping the pots a few inches under water in a tank in the greenhouse.
The hardy species can be placed in the pond by the middle of May, the tender kinds two weeks later. Those who have not the conveniences for raising the young plants can obtain strong plants of the specialist at a moderate cost. If the pond or pool has a naturally good soil at the bottom, less preparation is needed; but if, as is often the case, the pool or tank is made of cement or puddled with clay, the eighteen inches of rich soil must be placed over the clay or cement. Three parts good loam and one part cow manure will be a good compost, and you even can with advantage add a pound of bone meal to every bushel of compost. They are sometimes grown in large boxes, which are placed in the tank, but this is not the way to get fine flowers. You would not think of growing cannas in pots to produce the finest foliage and flowers, and growing nymphaeas in tubs or boxes is as undesirable.
The water need not be over eighteen inches to two feet above the soil, but the hardy species which are to remain out all winter should be sufficiently below the surface so that the soil does not freeze. A foot or two of ice can be above the plant, but the soil must not freeze. You will find that many of the hardy kinds seed themselves, and you will have an abundance of stock. No trees or shade of any kind should be allowed, as the nymphaeas delight in the broad sun. Finally, the secret of growing fine plants with an abundance of fine flowers is a good depth of loam, to which has been added a liberal allowance of animal manure.
Since the above was written it has been our good fortune to have had considerable experience with the beautiful nymphaeas, and particularly gratifying was our effort with the hardy species. The bottom of the pond was a stiff brick clay on which was placed one foot of heavy loam with a good third of cow manure. We had but one foot of water when the small plants were put into these artificial ponds and they were planted at intervals from July 1 to end of August. The following summer all semed to have about the same vigor and covered immense areas of surface.
Not being able to keep any water over the plants in the winter we covered the surface with a foot of strawy manure and another foot of evergreen boughs. The frost did not reach the soil and on the removal of the winter's protection and water again covering them they started vigorously and more than fulfilled our greatest expectations, and we had flowers by the acre. This is not quoted to tell you how to do it, but simply how to get over such an emergency.
The ease with which these beautiful water lilies can be grown and the short time it takes to produce a fine display of bloom make them deserving of a place in every private pleasure ground as well as public park. No display of flower gardening will attract more attention. They want the fullest sunlight. Small fish in abundance should be introduced into the ponds, for they destroy the larvae of injurious insects. Ducks, geese and swans should be banished, for they eat leaves, buds and rhizomes.
The following are all fine desirable kinds, but there are a great number of beautiful hybrids all worthy of cultivation by the lover of these plants.
Zanzibariensis, 10 to 12 inches, deep blue; Capensis, 6 to 8 inches, sky blue; Zanzibariensis rosea, same as type, color rose; Mrs. C. W. Ward, 8 to 10 inches, deep rosy pink; Kewensis, 6 to 8 inches, light pink; O'Marana, 10 to 12 inches, pinkish red, very fine; Rubra rosea, 8 to 10 inches, rosy carmine, one of the best.
Devoniensis, pure red, 6 to 10 inches; dentata, white, large, 10 to 12 inches; Frank Trelease, crimson, 8 to 10 inches; George Huster, described as an improved O ' Marana; Jubilee, pure white with delicate flush of pink at base of petals.
These are mostly natives of the United States and temperate Europe, and the fine hybrids now raised are numerous. The flowers are mostly from three to seven inches across. Tuberosa is the common white pond lily of our northern ponds and creeks. It is not fragrant, but so robust it crowds out other sorts, so that it should be planted alone. Odorata is another beautiful white and odorata rosea is the famous Cape Cod lily. Some fine sorts are: odorata, white; odorata rosea, pink; tuberosa rosea, fine pink; Mar-liacea albida, splendid large white; Mar-liacea chromatella, bright yellow, most desirable; Gladstoniana, largest pure white; Laydekeri purpurata, rosy crimson; Laydekeri rosea, delicate rose pink; odorata Caroliniana, rosy flesh pink, strong grower. There are numerous other newer hybrids of great beauty and distinct, but as vet rather expensive.