The following article is provided by Mike Stephenson, Beaverton, Oregon, USA
Our illustration on page 308 represents the Victoria tank in Miss Simpkins' garden in Yarmouth, Massachusetts, where, under the direction of Mr. James Brydon, tropical Water Lilies are grown in great variety, and with greater luxuriance and success than in any private garden in the United States.
Besides the Victoria tank, which is thirty feet in diameter, and heated by pipes brought from a neighboring greenhouse, there is a large octagonal tank fifty feet across devoted to the cultivation of tropical Nymphaeas, and filled during the summer months with N Devoniensis, N, Lotus, N. dentata, N. cyan, N. Zanzibarensis, and other species and varieties. Flowers of immense size are produced in this tank, in which the water is kept heated to a temperature of not less than 80° by means of pipes brought from a boiler specially devoted to this purpose, and to heating a small tank-house used for keeping the Nymphaea roots over winter and for propagating the rarer varieties. A third and smaller tank, which is not heated, is devoted to the white European Nymphaea and to the pink variety of the common Eastern species, which, with the generous treatment here given to it, produces flowers which are nearly double the size of those found growing wild in the neighboring towns of Barnstable and Sandwich.
The Victoria Regia, which is rightly considered one of the marvels of the vegetable kingdom, is too well known to need any description here. It has been in cultivation for more than forty years, and flowered for the first time in the United States as long ago as 1853 in the garden of: Mr. John Fisk Allen of Salem, Massachusetts, who exhibited it that year at different meetings of the Massachusetts Horticultural Society.
The Victoria is found in the tributaries of the large rivers of tropical America which flow into the Atlantic Ocean from British Guiana to Bolivia, having first-been detected in 1801 by Haenke in the Rio Mamore, one of the upper. tributaries of the Amazon, in Bolivia.
The seed from which was produced, the plant which appears in our illustration was planted in January last by Mr. Brydon in a pail of rich soil, plunged in a small greenhouse tank of warm water. The young plant was shifted once, and early in June, having outgrown its quarters under glass, was planted out in its present position. The tank during cool days, or when there is a high wind, which tears the leaves, is covered with a cotton awning stretched over a frame, placed some feet above the water, the sides of this temporary structure being closed with tight-fitting shutters. Treated in this way, the Victoria will continue to produce its leaves and flowers until the middle of September, and is expected to ripen seed.
Our illustration serves to show that the stories of the wonderful supporting power of the strongly-braced leaves of this plant are not without foundation.