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I have thought it might be of some benefit to write a few lines regarding the subject of this paper, and should it lead any Superintendent who has never indulged in these most beautiful and attractive plants; to spend a few dollars in planting a collection, and receive as much pleasure there from and hear as many expressions of admiration as I have heard, I will be amply repaid and may be excused for offering this paper.
We can well understand that unless some kind of water supply is to be had it is useless to consider this question.
The supply of water necessary to sustain a pond suitable for the growth of Aquatics, will of course depend upon the area of the pond and the general conditions governing it, but I fear there are some who are under the impression that a greater flow of water is necessary, than is actually needed. We are told by the scientific men, that the growth of aquatics in ponds is maintained in part by the plants being fed on the malaria and other impurities hovering around such localities, and render them healthier than such locations usually are before the pond is constructed. Not only are these impurities all absorbed, but the dreaded mosquito (of which so much is now being written) is not allowed to propagate if suitable fish are kept in the pond, which will eagerly devour its larvae as soon as it is deposited.
These facts being true, then what some suppose to be a stagnant pond and unhealthy to be near, is in realty not such; therefore we conclude that we do not need such a bold supply of water as might be supposed by some.
Regarding the location and construction of a suitable lily pond, I will give my experience and a description of one of ours.
In the year 1898, when our Association was held at St. Louis and while we were at the beautiful Shaw's Garden, I first became infused with the idea of making a trial of aquatics. On my return home I began to think the matter over and look for a suitable place to make the start in a small way. Nearby my office we have a moderately bold spring, so we determined to utilize the spring for this, so in the depression close by we constructed a small pool of irregular outlines about 30 feet long by about 12 feet wide with a depth of some 18 inches in the center: this was all completed and ready for the plants at the time for putting them out in the following spring.
In this little pool we planted four clumps of Nymphaeas, the same of Nelumbiums and a dozen or so of other small growing aquatics, possibly enough to plant a pond of .an acre or more in area; however, the plants most all prospered and did well, notwithstanding they were planted in the natural bottom without any special preparation of soil. Satisfied with our success the first season, we had by the next season enlarged our pond to about double the size and in which we planted more and included some Papyrus and Thalias around the edges, all of which added to the beauty of the spot as well as to my enthusiasm and a desire to further enlarge.
Finding our effort so much appreciated and the place so much admired, we determined to set about making a real pond. To do this it was found that we did not have enough water for the area we proposed to encompass in the pond, so we turned another stream into it, which added to what we already had, gave us then only a small supply, but has proved sufficient for our needs.
Our pond now covers only about half an acre is divided into two apartments, one for tender and the other for hardy plants. We then made a good preparation composed of one half old rotten cow manure, the other good virgin soil. Our apartment for the tender lilies lay directly over a brick sewer five feet in diameter, by reason of which we found the pond to be leaking freely; so to overcome the loss of water, we had to cement the bottom; after putting the soil into these two places we planted our lilies and with excellent results. Dotted here and there in the other or larger part of the pond we placed boxes without, bottoms two and a half feet square (to prevent the plants spreading too much) into which we planted our hardy ones. Of course it is best not to plant your pond too full; you need to have a considerable amount of the surface of the water without growth if you wish to make the best appearance.
We germinate and grow our own Victoria Regia (Trickerii variety) and plant them in the places mentioned above and I do not think they can be beat in the same climate unless they are in an artificially heated pond! At this writing, Sept. 1st, one of our plants has nine leaves measuring from four to five feet in diameter, with a blossom about twelve inches across. Let me say here, that I think it is a mistaken idea, that the Victorias require such an immense body of soil to get the size to the plants, for we have had them not so good in the larger space and besides have had them to die when too much soil was given them.
Among our collection I name some which are our special favorites, but will refrain from a description of them as they are all well described in the catalogues of those who sell them. Tender Nymphaeas: Rubra rosea, O'Marana, Zanzibarensis, Gracillis, Capensis, Kewensis, Wm. Stone, Dentata & Jubilee. Unfortunately by re-handling our hardies we have lost many of the labels, but we are partial to Marliacea Chrornatella & Rosea, Odorata, Exquisita, Gigantea and Sulphuria. We have grown the Nelumbiums in all their glory, N. Speciosum with their supremely grand flowers of a deep rose-pink measuring about one foot in diameter, but they were too much for us; they spread so that they would have soon monopolized the entire pond, so we had to get rid of them, much to our regret. We have also discarded most of the smaller aquatics, such as Hyacinths, Lettuce; Poppies, etc., but we still retain the Parrot's Feathers, as we think it affords a shelter for the young fish and saves them from being devoured by the game fish which we also have there.
I trust I may be pardoned if I have seemed over zealous on this subject but I am sure that no set flower bed or clump of shrubbery that can be planted will receive as much admiration and praise as a well stocked lily pond.
From the publication:
AACS - Proceedings of the 19th Annual Convention
Held at Washington, DC
September 19, 20, 21 and 22, 1905