Perhaps my favorite pink and white bicolor. That may be because I spent a fair bit of time trying to figure out the identity of this really nice bicolor water lily with plum-colored new foliage – I thought I had lost it from my collection for a while then regained it. The details have receded from my memory a little, but I remember having pictures of a bicolor water lily without a name tag. Well there are only what seems like a kazillion bicolor pink/red water lilies in existence – this could be difficult figuring out its identity. To make matters worse the lily didn’t seem to be around the nursery any more. Then one year I saw a lily with plum-colored new foliage – that was it!! Waited for it to flower. Yes indeed, a very nice flower that matched my pictures; but I still wasn’t sure which variety it was. Thank goodness for Perry Slocum’s book. I was probably reading all the descriptions of bicolor lilies in the hope of figuring out my mystery plants identity. Mostly reading the flower descriptions and petal counts. But Perry also describes the leaves of each variety. And under ‘Mary’ this description: “Top, dark green with plum toward edges, newer leaves deep plum; underside reddish purple.” Eureka!! I had sort of forgotten about the leaves, but yes, the new plum-colored foliage was a very striking feature of my mystery plant; some other varieties have dark reddish-colored new leaves, but these plum-colored leaves are quite unique. Looking at other pictures available on the web and petal counts of the flowers provided confirmation. At last I was able to provide my plant with a name!
‘Mary’ is a Kirk Strawn introduction from 1993. It’s free-flowering – I wish it flowered a little more heavily, but as you can see from the pictures, this plant’s flowers are well worth the wait. You can see the plum-colored new foliage as well in the background of quite a few of the pictures.