More Water Lilies Than I Have Ever Seen in My Life

Towards the end of our Thailand excursion, we flew to Chiang Mai, a northern city that is situated in the mountains. It was the part of the trip I was most looking forward to and turned out to be the city (next to Bangkok) that I would be most interested in revisiting to explore further.

Our second destination in Chiang Mai (after the Orchid Farm and lunch) was the Queen Sirikit Botanic Garden. Unfortunately, we were allotted a paltry 40 minutes to explore the gardens and greenhouses of this expansive botanical attraction. Note to media tour operators: garden writers require ample time to explore botanical gardens! Imagine a time frame and then double it. No, triple it. Actually, just give us the entire day.

The race was on to see as much as possible before being called back onto the bus. Because time was precious, I chose to focus on a few of the greenhouses and forgo the outdoor gardens. Before heading into the first greenhouse I took in a field of large bowl ponds. Each pond housed a different tropical water lily, in an astonishing array of leaf and flower shapes, sizes, and colours. I had no idea there were so many different types!

Nymphaea ‘Chalong Kwan’

Sometimes the leaves were my favourite feature.

And then we were caught in an intense, tropical downpour.

Nymphoides parvifolia

Nymphoides hastata

Next, I stepped into a greenhouse that was filled to capacity with approximately 100 square, raised ponds. What followed was several minutes of oohing and aahing as I raced from one pond to the next, each with a water lily more fascinating and gorgeous than the one before.

‘St. Louis Gold’

Gayla Trail
Gayla is a writer, photographer, and former graphic designer with a background in the Fine Arts, cultural criticism, and ecology. She is the author, photographer, and designer of best-selling books on gardening, cooking, and preserving.

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8 thoughts on “More Water Lilies Than I Have Ever Seen in My Life

  1. So beautiful! Gorgeous photos! My favourite is the pink one with the leaves sticking up through the petals.

  2. I would love a water garden full of “Nymphoides hastata” – serious petals on that one, ohmigosh!

  3. “Wow, How beautiful “. I have a twin sister who lives in AZ. In her massive backyard she has a huge water pond filled with the typical pond lilies , Cat Tails and of coarse the big colorful Koi fish….I can’t wait to surprise her with this lilies…” Who knew”

  4. Just gorgeous! I think I would have been tempted to “miss” the bus! Do you think there’s any chance of a water lily pond like that surviving back at home? I’d love one of these!

  5. Wendy: Depends on where you are and how mild your winters are. Otherwise they have to be overwintered, which is a bit of a pain in the butt. Some people grow them as annuals, but I can’t imagine that option since they are terribly expensive!

  6. Wendy: There are hardy waterlilies. I thought you meant the tropicals specifically since that’s the topic here. There are lots of hardy waterlilies that go dormant through the winter and then come back in warm weather.

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