THE BEAUTIFUL LOTUS
Throughout the Seasons

by Florence W Deems
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Getting a chance to observe these magnificent plants up close and personal is provided for visitors to the Grounds for Sculpture, in Hamilton, New Jersey. Two or three years ago, they planted two lotus plants in the pond by the Gazebo. This pond had held the usual but very beautiful waterlilies. It took these two lotus plants only two years to overrun the whole pond!

The lotus plant has been, and still is, highly valued in Oriental medicine for hundreds of years. The root is sliced and added to Oriental dishes for texture and crunchiness. A tea made from dried, powdered lotus root traditionally has been used for clearing congestion from the lungs. I can personally attest to its effectiveness. (The FDA has not evaluated these statements.) The seeds are also used.

Since visitors admired the lotus plants so much, the following year the grounds keepers planted some in the largest pond near the Seward Johnson Center for the Arts building. Now Autin Wright's sculpture, "Carmelita," is going to have competition very soon.

Below are my images of the various stages of the lotus life cycle, made of the plants in both of these ponds.

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From Bud to Flower
Flower buds appear in June Bud beginning to open Newly opened flower Open wide to accept the bee.
The Inside Story
The bee snuggles deep Each hole in the center of the pistil contains a growing seed A straight view into the center Having served their purpose, the petals and stamens fall away
Seed Pods
A flower, a young seed pod & a maturing pod Over the summer many pods develop In winter, the stems deteriorate and the pods fall into the water
The Rest of the Plant
Leaves open by unscrolling Early summer, the leaves can support two ducklings Leaves are unbelievably large Some leaves float; Others stand tall
Infra red image of the pond in the late summer Same scene, mid-summer In autumn cold nights take their toll Autumn strikes a death knell in the other pond also
When the lotus was planted in the pond by the Johnson Center, the plants were placed at the opposite end of Autin Wright's charming "Carmelita." (See first image below) It's taken only a couple of years for the plants to imprison poor Carmelita. In the second image below, she looks like she's calling for help!

The Winter Doldrums

Old seed pods in early winter The stems and leaves die and collapse Pond graffiti
We've explored the life cycle of the lotus plant. I do hope you'll be able to visit the Grounds for Sculpture and see these magnificent examples of Mother Nature's sculptures.

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