Monday, June 15, 2009

How to Grow the Lotus

Like everyone else, I have always admired the lotus, but it was not until I heard an old Vietnamese story about them, that I came to know that their seeds can remain viable for centuries. A close friend of mine gave me a lotus seed that had been in her family for generations -- a hundred years, at least -- and told me that it could grow. Much later, I learned that UCLA scientists germinated nearly 500-year-old lotus seeds recovered from an ancient lotus lake in northeastern China.

There is now an excellent introduction to growing the lotus available by clicking here. This explains germination tricks that I have never seen before, like sandpapering the seed. You can do worse things with your time than germinating lotus seeds. Miraculously-born things feed upon other miracles -- the interdependence thing, you know?

It takes about two years for flowers to appear. If you know someone who is ill, you can plant a lotus with them, and tell them: "In two years this will bloom." That should give them at least two more years.

There is another interesting fact about the lotus that I would like to share with you. There are only two species: Nelumbo nucifera, which is the lotus of Asia, Eastern Europe, and Australia that we commonly associate with Buddhism, and Nelumbo lutea, which is native to North America. Beyond this, of course, the hybrids number into the thousands.

The largest stand of Nelumbo nucifera in the United States used to be in Echo Park, in Los Angeles, California. They were planted in the 1920s and existed in great profusion until 2008, when they suddenly disappeared.

These were so beautiful. I went there many times through the years -- the last time 24 July 2004, with 妻子 and daughter. I am glad they had a chance to see the flowers at what really was the height of their glory -- a perfect summer day, with dragonflies, and a group of Vietnamese Buddhists releasing turtles into the lake.

When my daughter and I
went to Lotus Lake
we saw a red dragonfly
beautiful for but a moment.
Some fleeting things you remember
forever. (*)

Do you know? There are ways to get very old lotus seeds from the northwest border of what is now Pakistan.

I wonder if I will live long enough to see them blossom again.

(*) "Red Dragonfly," Hidden Person of the Heart: Poems for Two Chinese Sisters, Copyright (c) 2004 by Tulku Urgyan Tenpa Rinpoche, All rights reserved. Used by permission.

Stumble Upon Toolbar

0 reader comments: