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There are many different types of lilies—all incredibly beautiful in their own unique way (such as Stargazer and Calla)—but water lilies seem to exist on their own planet. Known as “Nymphaeaceae,” they are flowering aquatic herbs that live in temperate and tropical climates around the world. Water lilies are essentially a flowering blossom atop a green lily pad and are perfect for koi ponds and Zen gardens. As they are spiritual symbols of rebirth in the Buddhist and Hindu faiths, water lilies mean a great deal to many people.

With a blossom that closes at night and reopens in the sunlight, water lilies symbolize resurrection but are also important because of their immense beauty. Their petals range in color from white, pale pink and canary yellow to vibrant, deep purple and sunset orange. Claude Monet is best known for his Impressionist paintings of water lilies at his home in Giverny, France.

This series of works includes over 250 paintings completed throughout his lifetime. The image of misty-hued water lilies floating among reflections of clouds is one of the most famous in all of Impressionist art. Monet’s Water Lilies (1914-26) can be seen at the Museum of Modern Art in New York City and is immense in size: it is three panels and covers an entire wall. This is a wonderful reminder of how art imitates life and, in this case, flowers.

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