The latter, in particular, has been the inspiration for numerous works of art around the world.
Larkspur (Delphinium and Consolida)
Highly popular as a cut flower, larkspur has a variety of symbolic meanings. Most commonly, this annual has been used to symbolize love, affection, and strong attachment.
Pink larkspurs symbolize fickleness or indecisiveness, while white larkspur is usually recognized as a symbol of happiness.
In Native American tradition, the larkspur received its name from a celestial being who parted the sky and sent down pieces of the sun in the form of spikes. These rays dried and the pieces scattered. Wherever they fell, larkspurs sprang up.
Nymphaea: the beautiful and unusual water lily
(Claude Monet; public domain)
Annual and perennial varieties
There are both hardy and tropical varieties of water lilies in shades of red, pink, yellow, and white. Frost tolerant in zones 3-11, most require 5-6 hours of direct sunlight daily. They can be grown in pots and set in water or planted directly in the bottom of a pond. Opening in the morning and closing in the afternoon, blooms last three or four days.
Tropical water lilies are annuals. They have twice as many blooms as hardy varieties. Growing in zones 3-11, they're frost tender plants that can only overwinter in zones 9-11. Two weeks of air temperatures over 80° F, eight inches of water circumference, and at least four hours of sun are required to grow them.
No pond? One water lily along with one or two bog plants and an oxygenating plant is ideal for a large tub.
These lilies are either day or night bloomers. The night bloomers will be open until late morning. The day bloomers will be opening as the night bloomers close. Night bloomers come in shades of pink and white. Day bloomers come in blue, purple, and white shades. The fragrant blooms last three or four days.
(Nymphaea victoria 'Amazonica' has 9-12 inch wide pineapple-scented blooms opening at dusk and closing by noon)
(photo: Cbaile19, CC0, via Wikimedia Commons)
Tropical lily plants have twice as many blooms. They grow in zones 3-11, but are frost tender and only overwinter in zones 9-11. Two weeks of air temperatures over 80° F, eight inches of water spread, and at least four hours of sun are the requirements for growing them.
Not only beautiful, water lilies are also beneficial in a water garden. Pads floating on the water's surface help to insulate the pool. They reflect heat during the day and retain it at night, stabilizing water temperature and helping control algae.
The pads also remove nutrients from the water which helps starve algae and benefits fish living in the pond. For an environmental balance, 40-60% of the water should be covered by floating foliage.
When it comes to flower meanings, these flowers have represented purity, innocence, chastity, and the circle of life.
Their history can be traced back thousands of years, making them very important to numerous cultures around the world. In Mexico, Nicaragua, and El Salvador, indigenous communities have revered them as a sacred symbol of the earth.
Why so special?
Among the oldest aquatic plants in the world, their fossil remains date back 60 million years. Water lilies are very popular because they can transform a simple pond into a tropical oasis. I found an astonishing 46 pages of them in the Dave's Garden Plant Files.
They're also special because of how and where they grow. This amazing flower can pull itself under the water and transform into a fruit while submerged. After the seeds mature, they float to the surface and spread over the pond, eventually forming new plants
In India, the stems and flowers of this plant are also consumed. People in Nigeria and Ghana treasure water lilies for their medicinal properties, and use them to treat fevers and skin conditions. The roots have often been used to make teas, as well as oils for coughs and mouth sores.
As you can see, water lilies have so much more going for them than just their good looks.
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