Lilypons Water Gardens Fieldtrip and a Stop at Sun Nurseries

Gayle and Sue drove to Adamstown, Maryland to visit Lilypons Water Gardens in September. We wanted to educate ourselves about water gardening landscape design and possibly see some birds. It was fairly warm when we arrived around 10 just as the place was opening. We decided to explore the various ponds, divided by walking paths, to admire the plants. I had been advised via another visitor’s web post to bring boots or closed toed walking shoes to protect from snapping turtles and use plenty of bugspray. We saw nary a turtle nor were we plagued by biting insects! Sadly, I didn’t see any birds around the holding ponds either, so I hope the ornithological society had better luck!

Lilypons is on the site of what used to be a fish hatchery (Three Springs Fisheries) where they grew different goldfish and became a successful mail-order company. The new post office required to handle the merchandize was named for a favorite opera diva “Lily Pons.” How opportune for the business that would come later! With the location so close to Bennett Creek, a tributary to the Monocacy River, the site is a floodplain area. In a past historic flood, the water rose to the second story of the “shop”, the ponds overflowed and relocated fish into new areas where they were consumed by larger fish. Three Springs became Lilypons in 1978 and now focusses on growing anchored plants in those holding ponds and sale fish in tanks. They give grow advice on pond plants–especially water lilies– fish and pond construction.

At this time of year, the pond lilies are flowering sporadically; it’s not the the spectacular summer show. However, we did see some pink and white lilies in various growing ponds. Most plants were taking on their fall color tones or producing seed pods. The down side was that neither of us were at all knowledgeable on what, exactly, we were looking at aside from pickerel weed. So, was it ever serendipity when we arrived back at the shop where a group of women was gathered, a few looking somewhat familiarā€¦

Me: “Excuse me, are you part of a garden club?”
Lady: “Yes, we’re the Mount Airy Garden Cub.”
Me: (Holding down inner excitement) Um, Marjorie wouldn’t happen to be with this group, would she???”
Lady: (Pointing) I think she’s over thereā€¦

So, Gayle and I joined their GUIDED TOUR and got the whole schpiel, walking around the park-like setting on the rest of the acreage where Lilypons has constructed several “Idea Water Features” . Some were standard hard plastic with stonework, others were above ground constructions with slate coping. There were fountains and waterfalls, both formal and informal pond styles which are shown in the pictures below.

A couple interesting take-aways regarding water lilies: they like warm water without too much water action. If you tend to get home late, tropical water lilies are your best bet, since they will open later in the day.

Gayle and I brought bag lunches and sat in the pavilion near the largest natural pond, enjoying the scenery. We then proceeded to SUN NURSERIES to look for blue-green evergreen shrubs or trees and hardy asters for butterflies. A few pictures below show off this nursery which is conveniently located where 97 and RT 144 connect.