Episode 71 - Show Notes & Advice

Grow, cook, eat, arrange podcast
Grow, cook, eat, arrange podcast 71

episode 71 | show notes & advice

Today Arthur is joined by Linda Smith from Waterside Nursery, a specialist grower of aquatic plants and waterlilies. It is a sad fact that 90% of our UK wetlands have been lost, and gardens can help make a difference by including ponds and aquatic plants in their design. Arthur started gardening with aquatic plants when he was little, buying his first waterlily when he was 11. He chats to Linda about their favourite waterlilies, why ponds are so brilliant for attracting wildlife into the garden, and the wonderful tapestry of water plants we can all have in our gardens, large or small. 



In this episode discover

  • The best aquatic plants for wildlife
  • Linda and Arthur’s favourite pygmy and dwarf waterlilies, such as ‘Pygmaea Helvola’ and ‘Xiafei’, ideal for mini ponds in containers
  • The importance of oxygenating plants and how to ensure a balance of different varieties
  • Linda’s advice to anyone starting out with pond plants
  • Beautiful water irises like ‘Mysterious Monique’ 


Episode 71 advice sheet

The beginning of Waterside nursery

Waterside Nursery started back in 1995 as a small hobby business. Linda had a stream running through her garden and a passion for her pond. 25 years ago there wasn’t the amount of knowledge available online so she explored and developed her own ideas for aquatic plants that worked. As more and more people commented on her garden design and asked her if she could help source plants, she began her business, growing her own plants and selling mail order since the 90s and moving online in 2008, sending out ready rooted baskets of aquatic plants.


Waterlilies are pond plant royalty

Linda grows and sells a variety of different sized waterlilies, from those suitable for boating lakes down to smaller varieties for containers, all provided with full growing instructions and care tips:

Miniature – her favourite is ‘Pygmaea Helvola’ – a beautiful pale yellow miniature, great for a container pond.

Dwarf – Linda recommends ‘Xiafei’ a bright pink waterlily which is very early flowering.

Waterlilies for a back garden pond – ‘Darwin’ a pale pink waterlily, or ‘Mrs Richmond’, a beautiful tonal pink waterlily that is red in the centre. Arthur’s favourite is fuchsia pink ‘James Brydon’.

And if you have a boating lake Linda suggests groups of waterlilies with the biggest leaf pads, such as ‘Gladstoniana’, which has attractive white flowers.

Waterlilies are quite slow growing, warm water and sunshine make them respond. Linda provides information on the correct depth for each of her waterlilies as it is important the leaves can breathe properly and that the top surface is not submerged. For the same reason she recommends not having waterlilies near splashing water (like a fountain).


Linda’s top tips for anyone new to aquatic plants

For vital pond health it is good to have a variety of different oxygenating and marginal plants. By early summer, the aim should be 50% leaf cover across the water to give shade and keep the water cool and keep the quality of water good. This reduces algae spores as they need light to grow.


Linda recommends anyone starting out begins with oxygenating plants and waterlilies first – she sells starter kits with marginal plants that will grow over the year and provide different cover for different types of wildlife, ie, uprights for dragonflies, horizontal growth plants for newts and pond cover, such as watercress, water forget me nots, Vernonica beccabunga.


It is important to provide access for wildlife with slopes or a beach but she doesn’t recommend cobbled beaches. Ideally clad with plants that can have feet in water and give hidey holes as the beach comes out of the pond. Another idea is to lay out logs, to break up the cobbled stone edge.


The importance of oxygenating plants

These plants are good for ensuring water purity and oxygen for animals within pond

Linda recommends 2 portions of oxygenating plants per m2 of surface area, balanced with the 50% surface cover. She also recommends trying to have plants that comes into flower at different times of the year to drag surplus nutrients out of the pond.


Her top oxygenating plant is water hawthorn, which gives good surface cover across a pond in early springtime, with flowers from March-May, so before waterlilies and good addition.


Water irises

Arthur’s favourite is ‘Black Gamecock’ – with dark purple-black flowers and will do fine in a pond or great in a bog garden.

Linda’s favourite is ‘Mysterious Monique’ – dark purple, almost velvet like, she regularly propagates this as it is hard to find.

For all these plants and full guides on how to buy and grow them, visit Waterside Nursery.