Waterlilies are not only beautiful to look at, they have a soft fragrance, spiritual meanings in many religions and cultures, have medicinal properties and are used as a source of food.
Claude Monet painted about 300 paintings of waterlilies in his gardens in Giverny.
A gift to France given the day after the armistice of November 11, 1918 as a symbol of peace, the Musée de l’Orangerie houses 8 of the great Nymphéas [Water Lilies] compositions.
According to Buddhism, enlightenment is associated with this blossom with each colour being associated with a different meaning: a red lily - love and passion, the purple lily - mystic power, white lily - mental purity, blue lilies - knowledge & the highest deity is represented with a pink lily.
Hinduism associates the flower with the concept of resurrection (at night (or during darkness), the lilies close their blossoms and with the first ray of the sun, they open). It is also a symbol of purity, the plant grows in mud but the flower is pure and free from blemishes.
In ancient Egypt, this flower depicted the unity of people in the country. The lily (symbol of Upper Egypt) was teamed with the papyrus flower, which was symbolic of Lower Egypt. It was used to denote a united country. Ancient Egyptians also had a high regard for the blue water lily - a representation of the Sun and a symbol of rebirth.
The blue lotus family, or Nymphaea, is useful for making a sedative tea that helps you beat insomnia without feeling drowsy the next day. Other varieties are grown for edible seeds and roots.
I have to admit I hadn't had much success with using waterlilies in arrangements. They looked fantastic when they headed out the door to brighten the salon of one of our weekly corporate customers but when changing them out the following week there was a limp mess and reports the water lilies hadn't open and died quickly. Not what we like to hear.
Thanks to a recent care workshop presented by a local grower, each morning for almost two weeks I have been greeted with spectacular waterlilies in full bloom.
Tips to get the best out of cut waterlilies
1. Waterlilies should be kept up to their necks in water. They evaporate through their stems and will dry and bend if the water level in the vase is not sitting close to the base of the flower. Choose a vase that will support the open flowers and fill to as close to the top as possible. Cut the stems so the base of the flower head is on the water line.
2. The stems will grow a little each day so each morning trim with a sharp knife and refill the vase.
3. Waterlilies love light. Choose a brightly lit position (mine were close to a south facing window and did very well).
4. The flower will open each morning & close at night. It can take a couple of days for the buds to first open. If they are struggling to open after a few days, move close to a window or brighter spot.
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