There’s no room for all the lily leaves to lie flat on the water. In previous years I’ve pruned this waterlily to give a neat pattern of perfect leaves, floating on the surface like a Monet painting. Left to their own devices, new and old leaves overlap in wild, crowded layers, making a very different picture.
Monet spent many years exploring the artistic possibilities of waterlilies floating on clear water, among the reflected images of trees and sky. He spent just as long perfecting the garden at Giverny which provided the perfect images to inspire his paintings. Successive head gardeners at Giverny have worked to follow Monet’s inspiration and to maintain the horticultural pictures that inspired his art. In summer that means under gardeners wading round the ponds early each morning, to remove decaying leaves and flowers and to cut back excess growth, to preserve distinct islands of waterlily leaves floating on a clear surface.
Le Bassin Aux Nymphaeas, Claude Monet, 1919
I’m the guardian of two small, back garden ponds, not of the legacy of a world famous artist, so my waterlilies don’t have to match the archetype of Monet’s paintings. The natural patterns and colours of emerging, growing and decaying leaves have their own wild beauty.