Diary of a Professional
by Joseph V. Tomocik
Associate Director and Water Gardens Curator
Denver Botanic Gardens, Colorado
It was a beautiful blizzard and I am most happy to have escaped
As I work on this update I am wondering, not in a small way,
how the hardy waterlilies (Nymphaea) will survive the
winter. Because of the construction, we have more plants than
ever covered with bags of leaves in our now waterless pools.
We also have a good number of waterlilies in galvanized tanks.
The tanks are in an exposed area as opposed to the old protected
location between the greenhouses.
Autumn 2008 was an extension of the summer, sunny and mild.
Before Christmas it got brutally cold with the temperature dipping
to -19 F (-18 C) degrees one night.
The worst scenario is that many of the plants will be lost.
This is not as it sounds, as there are a number of gardens and
nurseries that can replenish our plants quickly. I often exclaim
that the hardy waterlilies are hard to kill, which is true. This
winter may be an exception.
New at the Gardens
A newly published book by Denver Botanic Gardens is Flourish:
A Visionary Garden in the American West, edited by Senior
Curator and Director of Outreach Panayoti Kelaidis. Highlighted
with discussions, photos and botanical drawings from over 30,000
accessions are 50 select plants. Victorias (V. cruziana
and V. 'Longwood Hybrid') are amongst the most popular
plants displayed. At our mile (1.6 kilometer) high altitude they
are a bit of a challenge, though not really that difficult. In
late summer with their huge fairy-like leaves, they are the plants
visitors most want to see. Fine specimens are also displayed
at nearby Hudson Gardens and the University of Denver.
El Pomar Waterway
The signature exhibit for 2009 is Jurassic Gardens: Evolution
and Extinction. Included in our displays will be 14 life-sized
realistic dinosaurs from the Cretaceous and Jurassic periods
of the Mesozoic era. Aquatic plants featured include horsetails
(Equisetum hyemale), waterlilies and algae.
Construction is well underway as we dismantle old buildings,
build a new parking lot and greenhouses and create new awe-inspiring
gardens. Huge cranes, bulldozers and other construction equipment
are seen everywhere. New waterlines including one for recycled
water are being installed. The Entrance Garden at the new visitor
center will include two water features.
The horticulture staff remains dedicated to once more create
and maintain outstanding displays. The Colorado Water Garden
Society is again poised to host their popular Get Wet! (April
20) and Water Blossom Festival (August 16) events.
Let the Games Continue
Late Summer, 2008
Sensory Garden Gem
Created by the 2008 interns and expertly maintained by Horticulturist
Angie Andrade-Foster, this delightful water garden features tumbling
water and a classical, tiny, red, Latour-Marliac waterlily Nymphaea
'Ellisiana'. This darling garden is beckoning to see you.
N. 'Cynthia Ann'
Romantic Gardens Pool
The featured Rocky Mountain Legacy Collection (RMLC) waterlilies
are displayed here and all are unique, beautiful and Gold Medal
The six hardy RMLC waterlilies are: N. 'Denver' (Strawn),
N. 'Denver's Delight' (Tomocik), N. 'Colorado'
(Strawn), N. 'Cynthia Ann' (Strawn), N. 'Joey Tomocik'
(Strawn) and N. 'Attorney Elrod' (Tomocik).
The RMLC waterlilies have again performed magnificently all
summer and are also displayed in the Victoria Pool and Monet
Pool at Denver Botanic Gardens.
All eyes are now on the Victoria Pool as we anxiously await
the first flower of Victoria 'Longwood Hybrid' (Nutt).
The three Victorias are healthy and getting larger each
day. The large plate-like leaves are a trademark of this wondrous,
astonishing plant marvel. The white nocturnal flowers are deliciously
fragrant, the fruity fragrance carrying a distance of 20 yards
(18 meters) or more.
The Tranquil Zen Doorway Garden
Blue and purple tropical waterlilies of African origin are
very much relevant around the copper Zen Doorway sculpture. Simplicity
and reflection are dominant themes here. The waterlilies are
now at their peak, several measuring more than ten feet (three
meters) across. Photographers have made this garden one of their
Joe leading tour at Zen Doorway Garden
Fusion by Sarian, a Touch of Eloquence at the
The Monet Pond has never looked better thanks in no small part,
to an exquisite container garden at the base of the Monet deck.
Chief Executive Officer Brian Vogt and Director of Horticulture
Sarada Krishnan are the co-creators of this regal display, Fusion
by Sarian. Featured plants include a richly variegated spider
lily (Hymenocallis liriosome 'Variegata'), the imperial
taro (Colocasia esculenta 'Illustris'), umbrella plant
(Cyperus alternifolius) and Alocasia plumbea 'Nigra'.
In the trial Gardens southwest of the Gazebo are exciting
new introductions for 2007 and 2008 from leading hybridizers
Craig Presnell (N. 'Ostara') and Richard Sacher (N.
'Star of Zanzibar'). These plants are Truly Named approved (Water
Gardeners International) assuring they are true to labeled name.
Also here, find the RMLC waterlilies and exquisite, tiny yellow-flowering
favorite N. 'Helvola' (Latour-Marliac). It is the smallest
yellow waterlily and is also well known for its darling, minuscule
Celebrity Pool (north side of the Monet Pool)
Champion tropical waterlilies here include Don Bryne's hybrids
N. 'Angela', N. 'Crystal' and N. 'Shirley
Bryne'. Trevor Cole's favorites are: N. 'Colorado' (Strawn),
N. 'Joey Tomocik' (Strawn) and N. 'Texas Dawn'
(Landon). Also, find here rare N. 'Mary Mirgon' (Winch)
and N. 'Doris Freestone' (Florida Aquatic Nurseries).
IWGS Best New Waterlily 2004 >
Fighting Cancer, 'Pink Ribbon' and 'Lindsey
A portion of the sales of the vibrant N. 'Pink Ribbon'
(Songpanich) goes towards combating breast cancer (Susan G. Komen
for the Cure). In a similar way, a portion of the sales of deep
purple N. 'Lindsey Woods' (Nelson Water Gardens) goes
to the Texas Children's Hospital in Houston. These showy waterlilies
are on the east side of the Monet Pool at the end of the east-west
Monet Pool >
Lotuses (Nelumbo cultivars) are tastefully displayed
throughout the Gardens' pools. The yellowing, plate-like lotus
leaves in the Romantic Garden are the first sign of a late summer
transformation. Shorter days and cooler temperatures echo a push
On the plus side, the waterlily leaves now take on a new dimension
characterized by color changes to red, orange and purple. Moreover,
reflections are more dramatic in response to a lowering sun.
The prized hourglass shaped seed pods remain intact for our
visitors to enjoy through out September. Splash some water on
the water resistant leaves and ponder why it is impossible to
get them wet. And, discover why.
Fly Trap Feast
Carnivorous venus fly traps (Dionaea muscipula) and
pitcher plants (Sarracenia cultivars) are found at both
entrances to the Fly Trap Feast. Close to the north entrance
is a demonstration display showing the use of aquatic plants
as filters, a fine example of sustainability, one of the Gardens'
important core values.
Enjoy the lively container gardens here and also tactfully
framing the Victoria and Monet pools.
Leisurely Walk and a Celebrated Waterlily
CWGS provides expert
A gentle walk through the Japanese and Gates Gardens might
be much appreciated considering all of the excitement in the
upper pools. Can you find a hidden bench to rest and dream your
Leaving our renowned Rock Alpine Garden we find a newly-created,
naturalistic peaceful water garden (Birds and Bees) with soothing
churning water and another fine specimen of N. 'Denver's
Bill Powell/Marge Oleson
Volunteer Coordinators, CWGS
Cleo Parker Robinson
Daniel L. Ritchie
Chancellor Emeritus University of Denver,
Chairman and CEO of the Denver Center of the Performing Arts
Coordinator, Water Blossom Festival
John Bayard ... Stealth Volunteer
Bernice Pete Peterson Award
Arborist, University of Denver
Associates, Denver Botanic Gardens
City Park Greenhouse
Denver Botanic Gardens Staff
Denver Zoological Gardens
International Waterlily and Water Gardening Society (IWGS)
Water Gardeners International (WGI
A final thank you to all who have so kindly contributed to
the 2008 water garden displays.
See you at poolside,
Storied Colorado Water Garden Society leaders
Marge Oleson, Lynn Jewett, Mary Mirgon and Nancy Jewett at Water