The National Plant Collection of Water Lilies is held at Bennetts Water Gardens near Weymouth in Dorset. I have long wished to visit. Although I arrived outside the peak season, I nonetheless enjoyed seeing a wide variety of Water Lilies still in flower in September.
The water gardens are located on the site of former clay pits. They create a series of large ponds and lakes. Starting in 1957, Norman Bennett used them to grow water lilies for his pond plant business. Since that time, the gardens have been landscaped with pathways, seating areas and trees. Monet’s Garden in France provided the inspiration for a green bridge to replace the original makeshift crossing of railway sleepers. The effect is very picturesque.
The garden is a Site of Nature Conservation Interest (SNCI). Its ponds are home to a large number of protected Great Crested Newts,Triturus cristatus. Regrettably, I never saw the kingfisher mentioned at the ticket desk on entry, but I did see a heron and a variety of tame ducks.
However, my focus was very much on the Water Lilies (Nymphaceae). My first stop was in the Tropical House. I was surprised to see a bee inside one of the flowers. Just outside were a number of tubs containing individual, smaller species. I made a mental note that maybe I could copy that in my garden next year – if only I could settle my heart on a single, suitable Water Lily, of course.
Views and Close-ups
The vast majority of Bennetts Water Gardens’ Nymphaceae are outside. I was in raptures, as I teetered on the banks of the various ponds to admire and photograph a multitude of specimens. I share below some photos of the garden views and individual Water Lilies that caught my eye.
Gallery of Water Lilies
Above photos all © Karen Andrews
Note the different positioning of the flowers and leaves. Some are flowers are held just above the water, others are held erect above it on long stems. Some leaves are flat to the water surface, others crowd above it.
From top left to bottom right:
1. Opening bud of Nymphaea ‘Attraction’
2. Nymphaea ‘Weymouth Red’
3. Nymphaea ‘Sunny Pink’
4. Nymphaea ‘Slam Purple 2’
5. Nymphaea ‘Thalia’
6. Nymphaea ‘Newton’
7. Nymphaea ‘Laydekeri Fulgens’
8. Nymphaea ‘Marliacea Rosea’ – hybrid bred in 1879 by Frenchman Joseph Bory Latour-Marliac, Water Lily supplier to Monet.
9. Nymphaea ‘Joey Tomocik’
10. & 11. Nymphaea ‘Cypriana’ with close-up side view
12. Nymphaea ‘Arc-en-ciel’
13. Nymphaea ‘Jakkaphong’
14. Nymphaea ‘ Peter Slocum’
© Karen Andrews
Links to my Previous Blogs on Water Lilies
A Visit to Monet’s Giverny – 30 June 2020
Book Review: The Plant Messiah – 17 September 2018
Painting the Modern Garden – 6 April 2016
References and Further Reading
- Bennetts Water Gardens (2022): Bennetts Water Gardens. Plant Heritage National Plant Collection of Water Lilies. (Leaflet with map available on entry).
- Bennetts Water Gardens (2022): Welcome to Bennetts Water Gardens.
- Crewe, Mike (2021-22): Water-lilies. Flora of East Anglia. An Identification Guide.
- Stuart, David (2002): The Plants that shaped our Gardens. Frances Lincoln. London. (Water Gardens: pp. 176-177).
- Visit Dorset (2022): Bennetts Water Gardens.
Karen does not seek or receive any commercial interest or advantage from this blog. She is not promoting any business venture. She simply loves to share fascinating facts about plants. These pages illustrate her love of plants, botany, biodiversity, gardens and creative expression. There is always so much to learn about plant diversity. This blog is designed as a showcase for photography, commentary on plants and wildlife, gardens and other places visited, horticulture and related topics. Viewpoints are her own, not those of her employer.