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See a sample issue of The Irish Garden!

June 2008

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Skunk lily, water lilies and rampant oxygenators

One of the earliest plants to flower in the water garden is Lysichiton americanus, the skunk lily, which has spectacular yellow spathes, like giant arum lilies without stems.

Skunk lily

It is superb close to water and loves rich, moist soil. These are followed in May by the candelabra primulas and Iris sibirica. By the first week in June the Japanese irises are making a contribution, as are the members of the meconopsis family, including the Himalayan blue poppy and the Welsh double-flowered orange poppy.

The plants that grow actually in the water get off to a much slower start, and there is little growth before the middle of the month. This means that it is an ideal time to plant up a pool, if starting a new one, and also for cleaning out an established one and dividing up water lilies. I find that if I divide this month the lilies flower particularly well for the rest of the season.

There are now concerns that many of the non-indigenous water plants that are being sold by nurseries are highly invasive and in danger of causing serious problems in our waterways. I must admit that I have one of the offenders, which is an oxygenating plant, and despite numerous efforts I cannot eradicate it from one of my unlined pools . I shall try again this month and make sure that no particle gets near a waterway during the clean-out.


 There are now concerns that many of the non-indigenous water plants that are being sold by nurseries are highly invasive and in danger of causing serious problems in our waterways

Initially, when I was putting in my first pool in the front garden in1973 I had to order aquatic plants from England, as there were none available here at the time. Many of the ones that I ordered were so invasive that soon little water space was visible and I had to start again a few years later, this time with only water lilies and a few compact marginals. The oxygenators were still necessary to keep the pool clear of algae, so were retained, and are producing my present problems. When I was making a new pool in the back area I moved a water lily from the front pool and unwittingly moved a bit of oxygenating plant with it. In its new natural pool it is positively rampant.

I grew bulrushes for a number of years, as well as flag irises, both of which I love, and which are indigenous to the West, but they proved much too invasive for a small natural pool and had to be removed. Once a pool becomes too cluttered for reflection the effect of space, and the mood of tranquillity that a clear stretch of water evokes, is lost.



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