I've just placed my second plant order of 2012 and am quite excited about it. In 2005 I clipped an article from House & Garden magazine about water gardens that mentioned dwarf lotus plants. I wrote to Lilypons for more information and discovered the one mentioned would be hardy in our zone. We've always wanted to try growing a lotus, so this spring I finally ordered one. Lotus want sun and hot weather to flower; whether our summer will provide enough of both remains to be seen. But this mild winter suggests a long hot summer is ahead of us.
Nelumbo 'Baby Doll" is a small white lotus (above) that is often suggested for tub or barrel gardens. Though our pond is much larger than a barrel, this small lotus will be more in keeping with our garden's scale. The flowers are 4-6 inches wide, carried on stems that are up to 30 inches tall. But since the plant will only spread about two feet, it won't take over the pond the way that a full size lotus would. And with white flowers, it fits into my yellow and white pond color scheme.
The above cutie is a dwarf water lily named Helvola. We used to grow 'Helvola' in the big pond and then in our container water garden. Somewhere along the way it disappeared. I'm guessing when we were dividing and re-potting water plants a few years ago, it got mixed in with the debris and discared. It was so perfect for a small water feature that I decided to splurge and order another one. Both plants will arrive in mid-April and I can hardly wait.
The photo of 'Helvola' is from the garden (and blog) of Pam Penick in Austin, Texas. Amazing to me to know that this water lily works in Pam's garden as well as mine up here in Wisconsin. Hardy to extremes in both directions it would seem.