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Great Plants this Month Autumn

Aponogeton distachyos or water hawthorn

image of Louise Sims
Louise Sims

It was the sweet scent on the air that first caught my attention when Growbag Laura and I wandered around Derry Watkins’ inspirational garden near Bath: the sort of scent that demands that you discover its source. I wasn’t really expecting it to come from an aquatic plant but was led in the direction of a small pond, almost covered by a carpet of waxy white flowers with browny purple anthers, hovering a few centimetres above the glossy, oval leaves that are so distinctive. 

In its original habitat of South Africa, the ponds tend to dry up in summer hence its dormancy during this season; but that rarely happens here, and the water hawthorn will flower intermittently from early spring until early winter, but most noticeably in late autumn. It is now grown as a crop in South Africa, for the edible buds and flowers that are used in the recipe known as waterblommetjiebredie. It has become naturalised in parts of north America, Europe, Australia and New Zealand.

Aponogeton distachyos took a while to establish for us: it’s in one of four small pools – not very deep and with occasional running water – at each corner of a larger circular pool. I do occasionally suggest to friends and visitors to the garden that they lie down at the water’s edge and breathe in the delicious vanilla fragrance, but possibly not in November!

NB Louise has published a beautifully produced book of her plant profiles – A Plant for Each Week of the Year. It costs £9.99 and is for sale in our online shop here.

More NB If you’re not already a subscriber and you’d like a bit more gardening chitchat from the3growbags, please type your email address here and we’ll send you a new post every Saturday morning.

By the3growbags

We're three sisters who love gardening, plants and even the science of horticulture but we're not all experts. We'd love everyone even remotely interested in their gardens to be part of our blogsite.

2 replies on “Aponogeton distachyos or water hawthorn”

I too loved Gardeners’ World with the wonderful Geoff Hamilton, so before his time with ecological and sustainable considerations. I, like Laura, tune in now for a bit of dog and puppy fix, but also like Monty Don, with that huge garden (how do they eat all the fruit and veg?). He is so lyrical in his descriptions too, just like the wonderful books he writes. I’m not a fan of giggly Carol Klein. However, Sunday lunch is timed to coincide with GQT for all the reasons mentioned in your article this week. And it’s all year round! Hooray!!

Hi Jennie, Elaine here. Thank you for writing in – it sounds like you’ve got the bases nicely covered there. We were in fact talking to Carol Klein at a media event last week – she was still giggling! I am in awe of anyone who can time the Sunday lunch to coincide with GQT; I have a feeling that that idea might go down like a lead balloon in my house….I listen to it on BBC Sounds by myself later with a quiet cuppa!

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