Saturday, September 24, 2016

WATER GARDEN: A deep topic

On Friday evening Gardener Tim gave a wonderful lecture in the water lily garden at Longwood. Literally "in": he wore waders and gave his talk while standing in the central 30-inch-deep pool, using one of those huge lily pads as his lectern.
He said one commonly asked question is why the water is so dark. The answer: the gardeners use a black dye, for three reasons: to deter algae from growing, to provide a better backdrop for photographs and to highlight the flowers, and to hide the mechanicals in the concrete-bottomed pond, like lights, cables, pots and cinder blocks.

Gardener Tim shows how water runs right off a lotus leaf.
         He demonstrated how water runs off the lotus leaf and said scientists and engineers have been trying to duplicate its moisture-repellant properties in, say, the lining of ketchup bottles.

He showed us how to make paper from the stem of the papyrus leaf and taught us a mnemonic for recognizing sedges: "Sedges have edges" (they're triangular).

He spent a lot of time talking about the Longwood Hybrid Water Platter. These famed "platters" can hold 100 pounds, but only if the weight is carefully distributed. Jump on one, and you'll go right through. The platters are studded with thorns to help them compete for limited space: if any other plant that gets in the way, "they just shred 'em up," he said.
The platters expand by six to eight inches a day, but it's not by actually by producing new cells; rather, they unroll and stretch.
Tim was a good speaker and enthralled the audience, which grew as the evening wore on and visitors arrived to see Nightscapes.
As I was walking out of the Conservatory, I saw a man poring over the Gardens map. "Hope we don't get lost," he said to his friends, sounding worried. It was a good reminder of how lucky we locals are to have Longwood so close: I've been going there as long as I can remember and I don't think I would be lost in any part of it.
Gardener Tim shows us what a fresh water chestnut looks like.

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