Tuesday, 8 May 2012

Going down the Amazon

A touch of the Amazon in Durham…

Victoria amazonica
Unmissable currently at Durham’s University Botanic Gardens is the Amazon Water Lily – Victoria amazonica. Housed in one of the greenhouses in its own specially prepared pool, it grows up to eight feet across in the wild and can allegedly support the weight of a man.(I haven’t checked yet with Head Gardener, Mike, if any of his staff have tried to prove that this is actually so).

Close up of leaves
This water lily was discovered in Brazil in the nineteenth century and thus was named after Queen Victoria. The ribbed structure of the leaves was said to have provided the inspiration for Joseph Paxton’s glasshouses at Chatsworth and the Crystal Palace Exhibition of 1851.

The undersides of the leaves are riddled with amazing spines to stop them being munched by passing fish, but it is the fantastic flower which is the show-stopper. 

 It looks just like a regular water lily but is in proportion to the size of the gigantic leaves and literally is Amazonian! It is such a treat to have the opportunity of seeing it and, although the flower will last some while yet, I urge you to make the effort to view it.

Despite the splendour of this exotic delight, perfect for all would-be Thumbelinas, I have to agree with Schumacher, however,  that ‘small is beautiful’ and can hardly wait for the pygmy water lily in my own miniscule garden pond to flower.


  1. Absolutely fascinating. The names themsleves are poetry. I muat go and see.
    I am enjoying your sidebar pictures. wx

  2. And thank you for mentioning Honesty's Daughter - a favourite novel of mine - a joy to write. I love honesty blossoms when they go to seed - virginal white disks. That's like the novel too.w

  3. This is a flower not to be missed - well worth a visit and anyone who hasn't been tot he gardens before should know there's an excellent cafe a great place for morning coffee or lunch!

  4. Don't miss the Friends of the garden Plant Sale this coming Sunday - 13th May 10.00am - 4.00pm