Garden News Blog

Water-lilies at BBG

Earlier this August, curator Cayleb Long put on his waders and hopped into the north and south pools of Lily Pool Terrace to get some up-close-and-personal shots of some of this season’s water-lily standouts.

There are nearly 100 species and cultivars of hardy and tropical water-lilies in Lily Pool Terrace. The temperature gradient in the four-foot-deep pools allows hardy and tropical varieties to grow side by side; the tropicals are planted in pots just eight inches below the surface, and the more hardy specimens sit in deeper, cooler water at the bottom of the pools.

Tropical water-lilies can usually be distinguished from hardy species by their larger leaves, more vibrant colors, and flowers that stand upright out of the water. Since they are unable to withstand Brooklyn’s cold winters and are replaced every spring, each year’s display of tropicals is different.

The pink, white, and yellow flowers of hardier water-lilies often sit right on the water’s surface. They’re capable of surviving freezing temperatures, so visitors can see the same gorgeous blooms year after year.

Most water-lily petals open in the late morning and close at night, so the best time to visit the pools is midday. The water-lilies will continue to bloom throughout the summer and into early autumn. To learn about the history of Lily Pool Terrace and to see more photos, visit Lily Pool Terrace.

Rebecca Bullene is a former editor at Brooklyn Botanic Garden. She is the proprietor of Greenery NYC, a creative floral and garden design company that specializes in botanical works of art including terrariums, urban oasis gardens, and whimsical floral arrangements.

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