Water lily & Delphinium in July :: Birth flowers of the Month
The new month of July brings with it a new birth flower for us to explore. But you could say July is a bit of a greedy month (or perhaps "generous" is a nicer adjective) because this month, we have 2 beautiful plants to celebrate as the Birth Flower of the Month: the lofty Delphinium and the low-growing Water Lily. The tall and the short of it, you could say.
strong bonds of love,
LANGUAGE OF FLOWERS
In the traditional language of flowers, wherein a gift of particular flowers carries with it a secret message to those in the know, both these plants represent love in various guises.
The Delphinium can carry further meanings depending on the colour of the petals. Eg pink Delphiniums infer the recipient is contrary in their love, while purple petals convey all the ardour of first love.
With its ability to open each morning and close each night, until it is spent, the Water lily flower symbolises life itself - and the love of life.
BOTANICAL BACKGROUND :: THE WATER LILY
I love that the botanical name for the family of flowering plants to which water lilies belong is Nymphaeacea. There's a "nymph" in there ... which captures the enchanting image of a fairy-like creature ... there and not there... a bit like the water lily flower itself which opens and closes with the sun.
In order to flower, the Water Lily plant needs at least 6 hours of sun each day, so they thrive in parts of a garden without trees around to cast shadows. The base of the plant must be well covered with water, so the leaves can reach to the aquatic surface on long, floating stems. The roots themselves will embed in soil at the base of the container or pond. It's quite possible to grow well-flowered Water Lilies in relatively small containers, as long as they are deep.
The stems and leaves of the Water Lily die back in winter, leaving just a crown above the roots, which will send out new stems and leaves in spring, followed by flowers in summer.
While it's one of the oldest flowering plants, it was only in the 19th century that botanists started hybridising them. They became a very popular flower towards the end of the 1800s, and were often featured in the artwork of the Impressionists (think of Monet's Water Lilies) and stylised in Art Nouveau paintings, stained glass and enamelware.
BOTANICAL BACKGROUND :: DELPHINIUMS
Delphiniums are also known by their common name of Larkspurs. They are perennial flowering plants which were very popular during the craze for "country cottage gardens" in the late 19th century.
The entire plant, from leaves, to stems to flowers, is highly toxic - to both humans and animals - so great care is needed when gardening them. Perhaps that is why they are considered "old fashioned" and not seen as much in residential gardens today. But with their lofty tall spikes of richly coloured flowers, they can be absolutely stunning when planted at the back of a deep garden border. Flowering in summer, they are a classic fixture of the Chelsea Garden Show each year.
There are white cultivars of Delphiniums, but it is for the rich purples and blues that they are probably more well known.
GIFTING IDEAS FOR JULY BIRTHDAYS
So if you have a loved one born this July, and are looking for a unique gift for them, maybe consider a present of a stunning, waterproof, earthenware bowl and a pot of Water Lilies to grow in it. Just make sure the pot is quite deep - 60 cm or more. It's ok if it's not wide, but you'll need to make sure they have a sunny spot in which to keep the container.
Or perhaps a packet of Delphinium seeds may be a lovely surprise gift, especially if you add a handmade metal potting trowel into the parcel. Wrap it up in newspaper, tie it with some woven stems from your own garden, and you'll have created a very thoughtful gift for a July birthday person.