On the cover: Nymphaea 'Senorita', N. 'Camelot' and
2005 Best New Waterlily N. 'Blue Aster' - Photo by Kit Knotts

Exclusive Waterlily Collection at
New Orleans Botanical Garden Creates a
Summer Spectacular!

Click images to enlarge

This summer the freshly restored New Orleans Botanical Garden features an exclusive World Premier Exhibit of Australian Charles Winch's spectacular original waterlilies.

Charles rightfully lays claim to creating more tropical waterlily varieties than anyone, including the renowned George Pring, late of the Missouri Botanical Garden in St Louis, though many of his cultivars are relatively unknown outside of Australia.

Behind-the-scenes dedication, determination, and perseverance by a small host of committed people at opposite ends of the earth are making the stunning display a reality. Most of the amazing waterlilies in the Collection have not been seen by the public before. 

For decades, Charles quietly practiced his obsession -- hybridizing eye-catching waterlilies. He specifically aimed to improve the variety of colors in both flowers and leaves of day blooming tropical waterlilies, and to increase the number of petals per flower. Largely shunning the commercialization of his lilies, he proceeded for his own pleasure and for that of his family and friends -- some lucky enough to occasionally receive a waterlily from Charles, or even to have one named for them.

N. 'Noelene'

N. 'White Delight'

N. 'Anne Emmet'
These are among the few Winch cultivars available in the trade.

Margaret Edwards, Charles Winch, Noelene
Pullen with Charles' 2005 awards 
With his health failing somewhat, daughters Noelene Pullen and Margaret Edwards encouraged Charles to enter several waterlilies in the 2005 International Waterlily and Water Gardening Society's Competition for New Waterlilies. His 'Blue Aster' won as Best New Waterlily. Also in 2005, he won election to the IWGS Hall of Fame and was honored with the Araleun Award, given for excellence in water gardening in Australia.

Ben Knotts, Darcy and Craig Presnell, Kit Knotts, Rich Sacher 
Craig Presnell, an award-winning hybridizer himself, has two idols, George Pring and Charles Winch. For many years Craig has added every Winch cultivar he could find to his personal collection. However, since so few ever left Australia, the number has been small. Craig spearheaded the nomination of Charles Winch for the Hall of Fame, initially made by John and Mary Mirgon, and did not rest until Charles was inducted, recognizing his outstanding achievements.  

Inspired by the knowledge that several new Winch cultivars were coming to the US, Craig conceived the idea of assembling a special Collection for summer 2006 display -- another tribute to the man and work he so admires. He made inquiries around the world about acquiring other Winch hybrids.

Enter Roger Bagley, an Australian aquatics grower with extensive knowledge and experience with tropical waterlilies. Roger also collects Winch lilies and was honored to name several unreleased hybrids that Charles gave him. He eagerly joined the effort to assemble the display Collection by sending tubers to the US and urging his friend John Hill to provide them as well. 

The four competition lilies, 'Blue Aster', 'Camelot', 'Regal' and 'Senorita', which Nelson's Water Gardens in Texas grew extremely well, were sent to Kit Knotts. Sadly, a fifth, 'Kit's After the Storm', still refuses to break dormancy. Nelson's continued to propagate the plants from the original tubers and sent the smaller plants and tubers to Kit along with the large plants. 

N. 'Blue Aster'

N. 'Camelot'

N. 'Regal'

N. 'Senorita'
As custodian, Kit's two-fold job was to over-winter the original plants for potential 2006 display and, with Craig Presnell, to keep the small plants and tubers going. Craig has been the primary grower for the display. Kit kept a web journal so Noelene and Margaret could share the progress with Charles. They selected several additional cultivars to send to Craig for the Collection.

New Orleans Botanical Garden
not long after Hurricane Katrina.

Then Hurricane Katrina, that disaster of unbelievable magnitude, struck. New Orleans, including its Botanical Garden, was under water. Concern for friends there, especially Rich Sacher, overwhelmed any other consideration. Still, waterlilies grow on so we continued to plan the Collection.

For more than 20 years, Rich has been donating and maintaining the waterlilies at the New Orleans Botanic Garden. After Katrina, when Rich could finally return to New Orleans, he witnessed the Garden's horrific destruction. Incredibly, the waterlilies were still blooming!

Through the Herculean efforts of hundreds of volunteers and the replacement of thousands of plants, NOBG resumes its former glory. It is hosting the Charles Winch Collection throughout the summer of 2006.

 Growing the Winch Collection from Tuber
& Tuber Propagation Illustrated
by Craig Presnell

Kit Knotts' Web Journal of Building the Collection
& Repotting Illustrated

NOBG Before Katrina, Soon After, and Spring 2006
by NOBG photographers and Rich Sacher

Profiles - Charles Winch | Craig Presnell | Kit Knotts | Rich Sacher

WGI ONLINE Journal Table of Contents

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