Read about Joe Tomocik

Fox Hollow Golf Course

Diary of a Professional Water Gardener
Spring 2010

by Joseph V. Tomocik
Associate Director and Water Gardens Curator
Denver Botanic Gardens, Colorado USA
Click images to enlarge 

Golf Goes Green II

The abundance of lovely yet barren ponds presents a rich opportunity to beautify golf courses, to attract wildlife and to lead in sustainability. Aquatic plants also play a vital role by removing pollutants from water. They are used effectively in that capacity at municipal water treatment facilities.

To be highly commended is Audubon International for stepping forward in bringing to the forefront sustainable practices at golf courses.

Hundreds and even thousands of ponds are waiting and begging to be adorned with sparkling, magical regal waterlilies.

Waterlilies not new to golf courses

The Isle of Man, located in the center of the Irish Sea between Ireland and Great Britain, boasts one of the top 100 greatest golf courses; its Castleton Golf Links is steeped in conservation. Between breadth-taking cliffs and the golf course a delightful bog features buttercups, rushes and white waterlilies. It attracts dazzling damselflies and adds to the habitat’s diversity.

With a history going way back to 1928, Golf Club Patriziale is one of the most popular and beautiful golf courses in Switzerland. Ascona is located in one of the most beautiful parts of Switzerland, the Italian-speaking Ticino. A picturesque pond off the 17th hole beams with sparkling waterlilies.

Lush tropical Sri Lanka boasts some of the finest golf courses in Asia. It is said golf in Sri Lanka dates back to Dutch occupation in 1656. The popular Sri Lanka Amateur Golf Championship traces back to 1891. Founded in 1879, the Royal Columbo Golf Club is the oldest in Sri Lanka. Situated in urban Columbo, a special calm of waterlily-laden ponds adds a special touch to the golfers’ experience.

A four-hour drive from Johannesburg, South Africa, the Bosch Hoek Golf Course in the KwaZulu Midlands is praised for its challenging holes and picturesque landscapes. Waterlilies flourish in the course’s many lakes.

Magic at Fox Hollow … Joe McBurney honored

In a most picturesque setting amongst the foothills on the Rocky Mountains, Homestead and Fox Hollow golf courses in Lakewood, Colorado, continue to lead … better serving golfers, children and the community. Of special note is the exceptional work of Course Superintendent Bruce Nelson and Maintenance Specialist Joe McBurney at Fox Hollow.

Joe has expanded his already miraculous dedication and success in naturalizing waterlilies. An additional prized cultivar, Nymphaea ‘James Brydon’ (Dreer Nurseries) donated by Denver Botanic Gardens, has rooted. Joe has high hopes for it and other exciting new cultivars. 

Lakes and ponds attract
exciting picturesque wildlife,
including cormorants

Joe McBurney

Joe was challenged last year by hungry beavers that reduced the stands of N. ‘Joey Tomocik’ (Strawn) and N. ‘Mayla’ (Strawn). Persistence ruled and a multitude of fiery flowers is expected again this year. Working respectfully with state wildlife and other officials is a must when dealing with such challenges. Joe was a featured presenter at the annual Rocky Mountain Regional Turfgrass Conference in December, 2009, detailing his work with waterlilies at Fox Hollow.

Joe is quite a celebrity and the signature waterlily-laden 14th hole is enshrined thanks to his remarkable achievements. Commemorating Joe for his outstanding achievements, he was presented with a coveted Sustainability Award at City Hall, Lakewood, Colorado, on April 12, 2010.

Ever so kind, Fox Hollow assisted Denver Botanic Gardens in June 2009 by providing additional Berkeley Lake waterlilies for our popular, award-winning summer display.

N. 'Mayla' at Fow Hollow

More on naturalizing waterlilies

I vividly remember seeing impressive stands of beaming naturalized hardy waterlilies at the nursery of the late Kirk Strawn in College Station, Texas, and in cemetery ponds maintained by Walter Pagels in San Diego, California. With vigorous rhizomatous root systems, hardy waterlilies make great candidates for naturalizing and beautifying ponds at golf courses, cemeteries and parks.

Check with local nurseries to see which selections are best for you; be willing to experiment as Joe does at Fox Hollow.

An excellent time to plant is when waterlilies are coming out of dormancy; this is April in Denver. May is a good month, also. 

A good planting depth is three to four feet (0.9 to1.2 meters). Planting in shallow water could cause losses in winter because of freezing. Planting in water too deep makes the plants work too hard and also makes it difficult if you wish to cut flowers. Push into the soil healthy, six inch (15 centimeter) rhizome sections. Stabilize rhizomes by covering with a half brick or rock, being careful not to cover growing points. A five foot (1.5 meter) planting interval between plants is recommended.

Monitor carefully after planting. Canada geese, beavers, muskrats and turtles find waterlilies tasty. Chicken-wire cages may be needed to protect the plants. Once established, waterlilies will thrive for many years, growing in numbers and impact.    

Waterlilies ready for planting 


Bea Taplin … Berkeley Lake white waterlily

The Berkeley Lake white waterlily that has naturalized marvelously at Fox Hollow golf course was christened N. ‘Bea Taplin’ at a special dedication at Denver Botanic Gardens on July 28, 2009. Mayor John Hickenlooper and other dignitaries attended the ceremony. Bea, one of the Gardens’ most ardent and cherished supporters, was presented with an exquisite botanical illustration created by Annie Reiser.

N. ‘Bea Taplin’ has proven to be a beautiful and vigorous waterlily especially adapted to naturalizing in Colorado ponds. It will be registered in the summer of 2010. It has flourished in Denver’s Berkeley Lake for sixty years.

See you at poolside,
Joe T.

< N. 'Bea Taplin' at Fox Hollow

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