Today’s photos are from David Barkley.
I thought I’d send a cheerful reminder that summer 2021 lies ahead. I have a small, secret pond that’s located within walking distance of my townhouse. When they’re blooming, the pond is covered in yellow lotuses (Nelumbo lutea, Zones 4–8).
What a stunning sight! David wasn’t wrong when he said the pond is covered with the lotus blooms. Yellow lotus is native to ponds and quiet waterways of much of North America, though it is less often seen in gardens than the Asian sacred lotus (Nelumbo nucifera, Zones 4–8). For best growth, both types of lotus need still water that isn’t too deep, but deep enough to protect their roots from freezing temperatures in the winter. When happy they can spread rapidly, producing carpets of leaves and blooms like this that can be beautiful but aren’t suitable for every location.
As the flower buds reach up out of the water, they start as tight spears that begin to open slowly.
A flower just halfway open is beginning to show the interior of the bloom.
The petals on this fully open flower are a pale, creamy yellow. In the center is the female part of the bloom, which will develop into seeds, and around that are the anthers, the male part of the bloom.
This flower is just about to go over. The petals have faded to white, the anthers have dried and are falling off, and the seed head is beginning to expand and develop.
Because lotuses can’t grow in extremely deep water, they are usually found along the edges of ponds, mingling with other water-loving plants like willows.
The deeper water beyond this bloom is clear, making a lovely backdrop for the opening flower.
Unlike those of lotuses, water lily leaves and flowers stay mostly flat on the water instead of growing up on tall stems. This looks like it is the native fragrant water lily (Nymphaea odorata, Zones 4–11). Native waterlilies and lotuses are the best choices for natural waterways to avoid introducing invasive species. Nonnative varieties are best kept in small, artificial water features where they can’t spread.
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