Waterlilies: miracles that you can grow | James Wong

Long thought to be impossible, a hardy lavender waterlily was
gardening’s holy grail – until 2007…

In the cosy world of gardening, it’s rare something comes
along that changes everything. But for lovers of water plants, in
the summer of 2007 a Thai farmer would overturn almost 100 years of
entrenched dogma with a creation that many thought impossible: a
hardy blue waterlily.

With their flawless translucent petals, waterlilies are among
the most beautiful of all garden plants. Yet their quirky genetics
mean that, unlike most garden favourites, this genus eluded the
endeavours of plant breeders until just over a century ago. Right
up to the late 1800s the only waterlily available to European
gardeners was the white native form. Then a French horticultural
genius called Joseph Bory Latour-Marliac cracked a hybridising
technique whose results dramatically expanded the options available
by mixing in the genes of waterlily species from North America.
Pinks, yellows, oranges and reds were the result. It was his
waterlilies that inspired Monet, resulting in an explosion in the
plant’s popularity.

Read more: theguardian.com