The images in the attached photo gallery were made between the hours of 10:00 PM and 4:00 AM, standing in the dark in waist deep tropical water, at Hughes Water Gardens near Portland, Oregon. These flowers only bloom at night and are one of the few plants that do. And they are night-time showoffs.
Hughes raises some of the most exotic species of tropical water lilies in the world. One of their most exotic displays is tropical night blooming water lilies and Hughes has dedicated a unique building to house them — unique because the temperature and other environmental factors have to meet conditions that will sustain these plants — the air temperature is kept at a constant 80°.
I first visited Hughes in 2006 and had the opportunity to visit this display — only it wasn’t very compelling — it was during the day and all the show-offs were closed up tight. Waiting …
I did have the opportunity to visit with the Curator of this display. We became friends and he made special arrangements for me to visit with these night bloomers during their prime time.
Hughes has over twenty species of night bloomers, most from the tropical rain forests of the Amazon, some from Asia, and some with colors so vividly amazing and spectacular they defy description.
But … they only bloom at night.
I returned to Hughes in July of 2007, cameras, tripods, and flash gear in hand, eager to spend the night with these beauties. It wasn’t a one night stand, I spent several nights.
What I hadn’t prepared for was the single night alone with the amazing Victoria Amazonica, one of the most spectacular water lilies in the world both for its size and its life span. Not only does it only bloom at night, each flower blooms only one night a year.