Lily Pool Terrace


Nearly 100 varieties of hardy and tropical water-lilies and other aquatic plants, including elegant sacred lotuses, offer a stunning summer display on Lily Pool Terrace. Spectacular year-round, visitors enjoy the serene reflecting pools, fountains, and border gardens, which are also popular with local birdlife such as ducks and the occasional heron.


The centerpiece of Lily Pool Terrace is the Jenkins Fountain, located directly in front of the Palm House. Two large rectangular pools are situated to its north and south, bordered by the Mixed Perennial Border and Annual Border. BBG’s Terrace Café is located just off the terrace.

The pools are planted with nearly 100 varieties of hardy and tropical water-lilies and sacred lotuses, creating a stunning attraction in July, August, and September. The Perennial Border, on the east side of Lily Pool Terrace, is a semipermanent installation of woody and herbaceous plants that offer a continuous display of bloom from spring through fall and lovely structural interest through the winter. The Annual Border, lining the west side of the pools, comes alive in early spring with its famed bulb display, including thousands of tulips, alliums, and other spectacular spring bloomers. Each summer brings a unique new design of colorful flowers and foliage plants created by the garden's curator.

Construction of Lily Pool Terrace began in 1919, shortly after the original conservatories were completed, and was finished in 1921. The pool surrounding the Jenkins Fountain originally had cattails planted between large rocks near the base of the fountain. Since the rocks and cattails were removed in the 1970s, an assortment of water-loving plants has been displayed seasonally, including elephant ears and pitcher plants.

Originally, the north pool was heated by hot water piping and was used to display tropical water-lilies, and the south pool was devoted to a collection of hardy species. In 1976, the global energy shortage and the economic crisis in New York City forced a decision to stop heating the north pool. Today the collection’s focus is on hardy water-lilies and lotuses, with a smaller selection of tropicals. The hardy specimens are planted in large tubs set directly on the floor of the pools, while the tropical water-lilies and lotuses are raised above the pool floor to take advantage of the warmth from the pool’s natural thermocline.

The small arc-shaped pool located at the northern end of the terrace is called the Lion's Head Pool for its fanciful wall fountain. It is the smallest of the pools and displays a rotating variety of species, such as papyrus and pitcher plants.

Wayken Shaw

Wayken Shaw

 

Wayken Shaw is the curator of the Judith D. Zuk Magnolia Plaza and Lily Pool Terrace, including the Annual and Perennial Borders. After earning a master’s in landscape architecture from the University of Arizona, Wayken practiced urban design for nine years on both coasts before pursuing a more “hands-on” career in ornamental horticulture through a joint program between Bronx Community College and the New York Botanical Garden. Wayken sees gardening as an important connection between form and function, with plants as an aesthetic, educational, and physically comforting medium for defining space and creating a sense of place in our urban fabric.


Sacred lotus (Nelumbo nucifera) cultivars

There are several species and cultivars of sacred lotus (Nelumbo nucifera) in BBG's lily pools. In Buddhism, they are considered "emblematic of the soul of man, resting always in calm above the surging activities of the world; existing in the sunlight pure and undefiled; rooted in the world of experience."

Hardy water-lily cultivars(Nymphaea species)

Tropical water-lily cultivars(Nymphaea species)

Lily Pool Terrace 1928
P.S. 206. Class at Lily Pool, 1928. ©1928 Louis Buhle. All rights reserved. For reproduction permission, contact library@bbg.org. To see more historic images of BBG, visit bbg.org/discover/historicimages/
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    • Lily Pool Terrace in July. Photo by Antonio M. Rosario.Lily Pool Terrace in July. Photo by Antonio M. Rosario.
    • Photo by Antonio M. Rosario.Photo by Antonio M. Rosario.
    • Early summer on Lily Pool Terrace.Early summer on Lily Pool Terrace.
    • Cercis canadensis, eastern redbud, blooms in early spring when Lily Pool Terrace's tulips are in full flower (in background). Photo by Rebecca Bullene.Cercis canadensis, eastern redbud, blooms in early spring when Lily Pool Terrace's tulips are in full flower (in background). Photo by Rebecca Bullene.
    • Nelumbo nucifera, sacred lotus, in the Jenkins Fountain pool on Lily Pool Terrace.Nelumbo nucifera, sacred lotus, in the Jenkins Fountain pool on Lily Pool Terrace.
    • Nelumbo nucifera, in the north pool on Lily Pool Terrace. Photo by Patrick Cullina.Nelumbo nucifera, in the north pool on Lily Pool Terrace. Photo by Patrick Cullina.
    • Nymphaea 'Luciana', (hardy water-lily) is putting up lots of blooms this week along with many others in Lily Pool Terrace. Photo by Rebecca Bullene.Nymphaea 'Luciana', (hardy water-lily) is putting up lots of blooms this week along with many others in Lily Pool Terrace. Photo by Rebecca Bullene.
    • Photo by Patrick Cullina.Photo by Patrick Cullina.
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      • Nelumbo nucifera, in the north pool on Lily Pool Terrace. Photo by Patrick Cullina.Nelumbo nucifera, in the north pool on Lily Pool Terrace. Photo by Patrick Cullina.
      • Photo by Alison Dorfman.Photo by Alison Dorfman.
      • Nymphaea 'Ellisiana', in the north pool of Lily Pool Terrace.Nymphaea 'Ellisiana', in the north pool of Lily Pool Terrace.
      • Nelumbo nucifera, on Lily Pool Terrace. Photo by Dave Allen.Nelumbo nucifera, on Lily Pool Terrace. Photo by Dave Allen.
      • Nelumbo nucifera in the north pool of Lily Pool Terrace. Photo by Dave AllenNelumbo nucifera in the north pool of Lily Pool Terrace. Photo by Dave Allen
      •  Edgeworthia chrysantha,  begins to bloom in mid-March. With its bright-yellow pendulous blossoms and crisp scent, this is not to be missed. Photo by Rebecca Bullene. Edgeworthia chrysantha, begins to bloom in mid-March. With its bright-yellow pendulous blossoms and crisp scent, this is not to be missed. Photo by Rebecca Bullene.
      • Tulipa 'Jackpot'
Photo by Alison DorfmanTulipa 'Jackpot' Photo by Alison Dorfman
      • Nymphaea 'Luciana', a hardy, day-blooming water-lily, on Lily Pool Terrace. Photo by Rebecca Bullene.Nymphaea 'Luciana', a hardy, day-blooming water-lily, on Lily Pool Terrace. Photo by Rebecca Bullene.
      • Tropical Ludwigia sedioides on Lily Pool Terrace. Photo by Rebecca Bullene.Tropical Ludwigia sedioides on Lily Pool Terrace. Photo by Rebecca Bullene.
      • Sarracenia species and other water-loving plants in the Jenkins Fountain pool on Lily Pool Terrace. Photo by Rebeca Bullene.Sarracenia species and other water-loving plants in the Jenkins Fountain pool on Lily Pool Terrace. Photo by Rebeca Bullene.
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