Keeping our waterlilies in top condition

Waders at the ready for waterlily maintenance

Every year once the waterlilies finish blooming, the garden team and volunteers don their waders and head into the lake to do some vital maintenance work and reduce the edges of the clumps.

This yearly maintenance work serves several purposes. We aim to have two-thirds of clear water within the lakes to keep the mirror-like quality for which Sheffield Park is so famous; particularly when reflecting our fiery autumn hues or vibrant spring colours. Secondly a trim helps with water flow between the clumps meaning that the plants are kept in optimal health and water quality remains high. Finally, reducing the patches gives a beautifully refined look which makes for a fantastic view. 

Waterlily clumps at Sheffield Park from the air
Waterlily clumps from the air
Waterlily clumps at Sheffield Park from the air

The work itself involves wading out through the deeply-silted lake bed. Balancing is surprisingly hard but our seasoned gardeners and volunteers quickly find their ‘lake legs’ New recruits may be more likely to take a tumble! The boat is used as a floating wheelbarrow and the team use spades to cut through the thick, tangled rhizomes and essentially ‘weed’ the waterlilies.

Waterlilies have a long history at Sheffield Park, with the striking ‘Escarboucle’ variety being one of the first plants that previous owner AG Soames introduced in the early 20th century. Today the lakes contain over 700 plants and seven different species.

We celebrate these elegant plants in our annual Waterlily Festival during June and July that offers a series of workshops, guided tours, installations and a temporary floating pontoon.  The blooms continue up until September, though are at their most dramatic when the sun is shining and  the flowers are fully opened.

Enjoying the Waterlilies at Sheffield Park
Visitors walking by the waterlilies on Middle Lake at Sheffield Park, East Sussex
Enjoying the Waterlilies at Sheffield Park