WHITE WATER LILY Nyphaea odorata

Throughout normal summers, many local churches had vacation Bible schools. Few summer camps are attempted this year because of the pandemic. However, as I grew up the churchyard banners and newspaper ads bring back memories of my childhood experiences. One of the first passages of scripture I memorized in VBS was the first Psalm. I remember the imagery of the “tree planted by rivers of water.” This was especially significant in Nebraska because there were few trees and also during the 1930s there was a severe drought.

When my family moved east in the 1940s, I remember the wonder I felt to see hills covered with lush green trees. What I had previously seen pictured in magazines became an everyday adventure. From such a childhood experience, I have always regarded trees and plants priorities to be guarded and preserved. As an artist, the ponds, lakes and streams have always been special inspirations.

WHITE WATER LILY Nyphaea odorata

Every time I walked through the botanical garden in Olde Town Conyers I was captivated by the beauty of this wildflower.

The water lily is also called the water nymph; however, the botanical name, Nymphaea, refers to the family of water-lilies (Nymphaeacaea) which includes over 50 species and subspecies in Georgia. This plant is a perennial that grows from a large rhizome imbedded in the mud on the bottom of ponds or on the edges of streams.

The leaves are generally round with a deep notch as pictured. They range from 5 to 20 inches across and float on the water. The deep green leaves are reddish-brown underneath.

The flowers have a sweet fragrance and measure from 3 to 6 inches across. The white petals are slightly cupped around the golden yellow stamens. The stamens tightly surround the ovary. The blooms are only open for two or three days.

As the flower fades, the stalks shrink and the hard-cased fruit becomes submerged. The seeds mature underwater. The water lily has a rather lengthy blooming season from June through September.

The first Psalm has a message that promises a blessing to all who heed it. “Blessed is the man that walketh not in the counsel of the ungodly, nor standeth in the way of sinners, nor sitteth in the seat of the scornful. But his delight is in the law of the Lord; and in his law doth he meditate day and night. And he shall be like a tree planted by the rivers of water, that bringeth forth his fruit in his season; his leaf also shall not wither; and whatsoever he doeth shall prosper” Psalm 1:1-3 (KJV).

Orrin Morris is a retired Baptist minister, local artist and art teacher. To purchase a two-volume set of books featuring his wildflower columns, visit The Sketching Pad in Olde Town Conyers, or call 770-929-3697 or text 404-824-3697. Email him at odmsketchingpad@yahoo.com.

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