New Lilies, Just in Time for Summer (and Weddings)

Star of Siam and Innocence water lilies in the Taper Courtyard reflecting pool. They’ll be around all summer long!

Star of Siam and Innocence water lilies in the Taper Courtyard reflecting pool. They’ll be around all summer long!

A new project: transforming the reflecting pool in our Taper Courtyard into a lily pond! Sounds simple, but in the end this little assignment became one of the most fascinating and challenging projects I’ve worked on to date as a project manager here at the Skirball.

Water lilies are very delicate flowers that spring up and bloom on the surface of water between leaves that float, better known as lily pads. Water lilies come in numerous varieties and colors. My first step was to find out who in the field could give me expert advise and offer me an education on these gorgeous blossoms. Randy McDonald of McDonald’s Aquatic Nurseries, that’s who!

Next we selected blooms with colors that coordinated with the aesthetics of our Taper Courtyard, including the jacaranda trees. We knew we wanted different lilies for different times of year to ensure blooms year round. Our final choice: 144 pots of Star of Siam and Innocence for the spring/summer, and 125 pots of Hawthorne lilies, the only blooming winter lily, for fall/winter. At the end of each season, we return the lilies to the vendor who re-plants and safeguards them for future use. I thought, Great, decision made. Now all we have to do is put them in the water and be captivated by their beauty. Or so I thought!

Once placed in our pond, the magnificent flowers attracted mosquitos. So now what? Thankfully, it’s an easy fix: add algae to your pond to control mosquitos… except, shoot, this also harms the lilies.

Next option: let’s add fish. But what kind of fish? Koi would be nice, but they might attract hawks and other predators from the hillside into our courtyard during a Sunset Concerts show or in the midst of a wedding ceremony, of all things. I don’t think a bride would appreciate that. So… no koi. Next!

Alligator decoys like this one might be effective in shooing away predators, but seriously, can you imagine spotting this in our lily pond?

Alligator decoys like this one might be effective in shooing away predators, but seriously, can you imagine spotting this in our lily pond?

I found faux crocodiles and owl statues with rotating heads that you can strategically place to keep pesky predators at bay, but what if they don’t work? And really, I’m not sure a bride would want crocodiles, fake or not, peeking above water at her wedding guests either.

Aha, what about mosquito fish? They thrive on mosquito larva and keep the population under control, and hawks don’t have any interest in them. This proved to be a good solution, plus kids on their way in and out of Noah’s Ark seem to enjoy watching fish swim around the lilies in the lily pond.

But just when I thought I had solved everything…

Without any chemicals in the pond, the water looks “dirty” although it is actually a natural ecosystem. Requests started coming in to please make the water look more blue/green. But what could we possibly do to alter the color of the water and maintain the integrity of the ecosystem and its earthy look? My vendor introduced me to a bio-degradable non-toxic blue water dye. We carefully drop in 1.0 mL at a time to make sure we don’t overdo it and use only enough to make the 17, 490-gallon pool look less muddy, more blue/green, yet natural.

The courtyard looks amazing!

The courtyard looks amazing!

I hope you’ll stop by soon and visit our Taper Courtyard as part of your next visit to the Skirball. We just placed the spring/summer lilies, and they look terrific.

Oh, and please don’t be surprised if you hear croaking, especially in the evening. The frogs from our area have moved in two by two and have found a happy home just like our animals in Noah’s Ark.

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Posted in Around Campus, Behind the Scenes and tagged .

About Elaine Wior

Elaine Wior joined the Skirball in 2004 as the Operations Coordinator. Everyone always asks her, “What does that title mean?” Her response is: “If it’s broken, I help find a way to repair or replace it. If it’s new, I probably researched and purchased it.” For Elaine, it’s fun to come to work and learn something new every day. While on her days off, Elaine can be found doing a crossword puzzle at the beach with her partner, Robert, hunting for the best burger joints in town, or enjoying a foreign film with her friends. Family days are the best days!

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