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Winter 2023 Newsletter

2023 Holiday Party & Gift Exchange

By: Dorothy Martinez

Please join your fellow water garden enthusiasts for an evening of food and fun!

The 2023 Holiday Banquet and Gift Exchange will be held on Tuesday, December 5th from 6:00 pm until 9:00 pm. We will be at the same venue we were at last year, the Arbor House located at Maple Grove Park in Golden. This was a delightful location complete with fireplace and Christmas Tree.

Maple Grove Park is located at 14600 W. 32nd Avenue, Golden 80401. The Arbor House and Parking is located on the West side of the property and to the North of 32nd Avenue.

Catch up with your fellow water gardeners starting at 6:00 pm. The potluck begins at 6:30 pm where we will also recognize our many dedicated volunteers. The gift exchange will start around 7:30 pm.

The Club will provide drinks, the main dish, and dessert. Please bring your favorite appetizer, salad, or side dish to share.

The gift exchange is a laughter and surprise filled good time. If you wish to participate, please bring a wrapped gift valued at about $15.00. We usually bring gifts with some type of water garden theme, but that is not necessary. Be creative! As a gardener, especially a water gardener, what would YOU like to receive? Rules about how our gift exchange will be explained prior to the gift exchange.

Please come and enjoy the evening!! If you have questions, please call Sue at 303 457-1783 or Teresa at 720-219-6481. Please leave a message if the call is not answered.

2023 Photo Contest Summary

By: Kim Kimpton

The October 5th CWGS meeting was great fun. We started with an early pot luck supper. Over dinner we caught up with fellow members, shared gardening stories, and celebrated our Autumn weather luck. Apparently, everybody’s gardens had had a slow start due to the dreary June weather but caught up and were going gangbusters at the time of this writing.

The excitement ramped up with a slideshow of all the CWGS Photo Contest entries. We had a wonderful variety of subjects and locations captured in photographs. In total, we had 94 photo entries by seven individuals. I am certain more members will be pulling out their cameras or camera phones to increase the number of entries next year. This year, the rules allowed pictures from before 2023 to be submitted. Next year, submissions will be allowed from only October 2023 to October 2024. So, make a note to yourself to start clicking early next season.

The judges expressed their difficulty in narrowing down the winners in each category, but they got it done. Congratulations to the winners!

Best in Show – Tamara Kilbane
Water Lilies and Lotus – Tamara Kilbane
Container Gardens – Karen Thurman
It’s Alive - Pollinators and More – Tamara Kilbane
Black and White Photos – Kim Kimpton
Whole Plant Collections – Vicki Aber
Water Features and Fountains – John Funk
Marginal Plants – Dorothy Martinez

Second and third place winners as well as other entrants included: Jim Arneill, Bud and Debbie Kiebler, and Gary Reid.

CWGS now has some lovely photographs available to brighten up our future newsletters and promotions. We thank all of our photographers, judges (Brenda Parson-Heir and Scott Dressel-Martin), technical expertise, and fellow organizer John Funk for making our first show a success! We also thank the people and businesses that donated prizes for the top winners.

Colorado Water Garden Society
Denver Botanic Gardens
The Shop at the Gardens
Blue Pan Pizza
Highlands Garden Center & Nursery/Big Tool Box
Wild Flowers Home, Gifts, and Gardens
Zorba’s Restaurant

Following our Photo Contest, attendees were treated to fabulous presentation by professional photographer Scott Dressel-Martin on how to improve your photographs. Scott shared his photographs, experiences, and expertise. There were many take aways from Scott’s presentation. Amongst them where:

Slow down your process
Consider the light direction, time of day, and shadows
Compose with balance
Consider what else is in the frame
Consider changing the perspective – move in for a close up or step back to change the depth of field
Consider changing the position from where you take your photo. Getting down on the plant’s level can be very effective

Many thanks to you Scott Dressel-Martin for showing us the way.

Now that we have the hang of it, get primed for next year’s edition of the CWGS Photo Contest. We are already looking forward to it!

Following the Photo Contest winners’ presentation there was a special presentation to Dorothy Martinez, immediate past President of the CWGS for her extraordinary leadership over the past few years. Thank you!

Link to Lauritzen Gardens Video Presentation from September 14th Meeting

By: Dorothy Martinez

For those of you who attended our September 14th meeting, we experienced some technical difficulties in not having the correct connector to view the planned presentation. Thanks for your patience.

We were able to download the video to CWGS’ YouTube channel and it is now available for you to view anytime.

If you wish to view the video, just click on the link below:


We hope you enjoy the video; it is about 40 minutes in length. Our thanks go to Peter Hier for putting this enjoyable video together.

2023 IWGS Symposium in Vancouver, British Columbia

By: Dorothy Martinez

This year’s International Waterlily and Water Garden Society’s Symposium took place in Vancouver, British Columbia in Canada. As usual, the Symposium was a lot of fun, full of great information, and gave everyone a chance to catch up with what has been going on in their lives for the last year. To keep this article to a reasonable length, I summarized our many activities; otherwise, this article would easily be 3 – 4 pages in length.

I was able to fly in a couple of days early to enjoy some of the sights in Vancouver, sample some of the local beers, do some local shopping, and savor some excellent food at nearby restaurants. You can explore many parts of Vancouver by utilizing the Hop on/Hop off tourist bus. Two areas that are not to be missed are Stanley Park and the Granville Island Market.

Two highlights of exploring on my own were the Bloedel Conservatory and the Dr. Sun Yat-Sen Classical Chinese Garden. The Bloedel Conservatory is a domed lush paradise in Queen Elizabeth Park atop Vancouver’s highest point. The views of the city and surrounding area were spectacular. The Conservatory has more than 100 exotic birds and 500 exotic plants and flowers that thrive within its temperature-controlled environment. Constructed in 1969, the Conservatory was designated as a heritage building.

The Dr. Sun Yat-Sen Classical Chinese Garden is a hidden gem within the city of Vancouver. Once you enter, you discover another world behind its walls. The gardens contain many traditional elements of a Chinese garden including water, Taihu stones (also called Scholar’s stones), courtyards, and Penging (art of depicting artistically trees, plants, and landscapes in miniature). Many elements of Yin and Yang are also represented throughout the gardens.

The Symposium started on August 23rd with everyone checking into the hotel and attending the Opening Reception later that afternoon. It was a great chance to see and visit with people who are in the ponding profession, aquatic nursery profession, hybridizers, and pond enthusiasts.

The second day of the Symposium, August 24th, we headed out at 8:00 am to tour the University of British Columbia’s Botanical Garden and Center for Plant Research and then a visit to VanDusen Botanical Garden.

UBC’s Botanical Garden is Canada’s oldest operating botanic gardens and was established in 1916. Its original mission was to research into the native flora of British Columbia. The mission has broadened to include education, research, conservation, community outreach, and community display. Probably my favorite part of this garden was the Greenheart Treewalk. This feature consists of suspended walkways and tree platforms high above the forest floor. Unlike other treetop canopy systems, this one does not damage the trees by bolting the platforms to the trees. Instead, they use a cable tension system and the platforms are hung from the trees without using nails or bolts. It offered a unique view of the trees and the gardens below.

I enjoyed walking through the Asian Garden with its second-growth forest under-planted with Asian trees, shrubs, woody vines, evergreens, and herbaceous perennials. The BC Rainforest Garden was very peaceful as you walked among plants and trees that are native to the region. The collection includes a wide variety of woody and non woody, terrestrial, marginal and aquatic plants, and plants of native ethnobotanical importance.

In another area, I explored the Food Garden, this garden is partially enclosed by espalier trained apple and pear trees and also has ground level beds as well as raised beds for soft fruit, vegetable, and culinary herb cultivation. I enjoyed exploring the Harold & Frances Physic Garden with its formal, concentric brick edged beds. This gardens’ collection represents plants from the early European pharmacopeia and includes valuable herbs, noxious weeds, and deadly poisons.

Our next stop was VanDusen Botanical Garden. VanDusen covers 55 acres and was established in 1970 by the Vancouver Foundation, the British Columbia provincial government, and the city of Vancouver. The site was formerly a golf course. The Gardens opened to the public in 1975 and are managed by the Vancouver Park Board and the Vancouver Botanical Gardens Association. In addition to water features throughout the rolling landscape, special features in the garden include carved totem poles, a small Japanese garden, and large stone sculptures. There is also an Elizabethan Maze adjacent to VanDusen's heirloom vegetable garden.

Although the garden's mission statement upholds the ideals of a botanical garden, an early decision not to partake in scientific research channeled funds and energy into garden construction and released the staff from the responsibility of building research collections or an herbarium.

There is also a Stone Garden, Scottish Shelter, Meditation Garden, and many wonderful ponds and water features. Plant collections include rhododendrons, azaleas, magnolias, hydrangeas, ferns, oaks, lavenders, roses, ginkgoes, conifers, firs, and ashes.

Many of the flowering shrubs such as the rhododendrons and azaleas had already bloomed, but the hydrangeas were just beautiful. Just roaming around the gardens among the many large trees was so relaxing. I particularly enjoyed strolling through the Meditation Garden nestled among several large trees with a very dense canopy. I also enjoyed the many sculptures and artworks dotted throughout the gardens and particularly enjoyed the totem poles. The Stone Garden was quite interesting and its design was derived from Asian culture. The vertical rocks represent islands within a dry lake of stones. The Scottish Shelter sits among the many varieties of heather and is constructed of local basaltic rock in a style compatible with a moorland theme surrounding it.

This was quite a full day of walking and everyone felt “good tired” at the end of the day and enjoyed the bus ride back to the hotel.

The next day, August 25th, started at 8:45 with Speaker Brain Minter. His presentation focused about how the extremes of climate change are affecting the essence of how we garden – from soil regeneration to the plants we grow. He wrapped up his presentation with the idea that gardens need to become an improved environment to help wildlife, pollinators, and our planet.

Next up was a panel discussion about Water Gardening in a “Less than Tropical Environment”. This group discussed the issues facing water gardeners who live and work in temperate climates with colder, unpredictable winters. Each panelist gave a short presentation on the specific issues they face in their particular climate zone and how they have overcome various problems they have encountered.

The next speaker was James Wylie who specializes in Swim Ponds. James has built dozens of ecosystem ponds and recreation ponds. James discussed how natural ponds may very well replace backyard swimming pools. His presentation included the techniques and benefits of recreation ponds.

After a very nice lunch, the first speaker was Heinjo Lahring who gave a fascinating presentation on “The Kananaskis Project – Growing Waterlilies in the Rockies”. This presentation was all about the design and construction a very large lake on a private ranch in the Canadian Rockies’ wilderness. The lake was designed with a stone trough surrounding the edge of the lake with the intention of placing potted water lilies into the trough. The final design and result were stunning, considering the harsh environment this unique, man-made water feature is located within. The lilies planted within the trough have survived and thrived in this seemingly inhospitable environment.

Next was a presentation by Annette Rowan who is a Certified Trade Compliance Specialist and Licensed Customs Broker with the Canadian government. Annette’s presentation focused on what you need to know to import plants and other things into Canada.

The next speaker was Laura Grant, who lives in the Toronto area of Ontario. Laura is a master gardener who loves to push the limits of plants’ hardiness. Laura gave a great presentation on creating a bog garden to fit any size property. She demonstrated how you can have a wide variety of plants that look spectacular throughout the year.

Pete Kremers followed with a presentation on “Tropical water gardening in challenging conditions”. Pete is from Maryland and took a challenging area that was originally a flood control project and eventually became Carroll Creek Park. Carroll Creek Park is a beautiful community water garden covering over 34,000 square feet. The tropical water gardens are created without foundation funding or paid staff. Pete explained how he and many volunteers face many challenges each year to create the tropical water gardens. To raise money to support the summer tropical gardens, they created an annual event called “Sailing Through the Winter Solstice” where people pay to elaborately decorate sailboats with colorful holiday lights from November through March. Many boats are sponsored by local businesses. Funds are also raised by onlookers donating a dollar per vote to vote for their favorite sailboat design.

That was the end of the day’s speakers, everyone went back to their rooms to rest up for the evening’s gala featuring the keynote speaker, Demi Fortuna.

After a very nice dinner, Demi Fortuna, Director of Product Information at Atlantic-OASE spoke about The Future of Water Gardening – a Look Ahead. Demi is a very dynamic speaker and is not afraid to admit mistakes he has made in his journey in designing and building water features. Demi’s presentation was thought provoking as he talked about how our perceptions and priorities have changed after the Pandemic and how living through that experience has changed our lives. He also discussed how global warming and climate change is affecting how water gardens are viewed. He left us with some interesting points to ponder, What’s next? Where do we position ourselves? How do we get there? Very good food for thought indeed.

The final day of the Symposium, August 26th, we travelled by bus to a ferry terminal where we boarded a ferry bound for Victoria on Vancouver Island to see Butchart Gardens. The ferry ride both to and from Victoria was very scenic. We even saw some dolphins and orcas from a distance. Upon arrival at Swartz Bay, we loaded onto our bus for the drive to Butchart Gardens.

Butchart Gardens was originally a limestone quarry, beginning in 1912 the founder, Jennie Butchart, had a vision to transform the quarry into a sunken garden and create beautiful gardens in the surrounding land. In 1939, her grandson, Ross, continued expanding and added concerts, night lighting, and the Magic of Christmas. Her great grandson, Christopher added the famous fireworks shows in 1977. The Gardens celebrated its 100th anniversary in 2004 and to acknowledge this milestone, two totem poles were carved and installed by Salish master carvers.

The gardens cover 55 acres, contain 900 bedding plant varieties, 26 greenhouses, and employ 50 full-time gardeners. There are many beautiful gardens to explore, including the Rose Garden, Sunken Garden, Italian Garden, Mediterranean Garden, and the Japanese Garden. There are also many beautiful fountains and water features including Waterwheel Square, the Snail Pond (named for the bronze snail sculpture within it), Cross Pond, Star Pond, Sturgeon Fountain, Dragon Fountain, Single Jet Fountain, and Ross Fountain.

Probably my favorite garden was the Japanese Garden. Your journey begins by entering the gardens through the beautiful Torii gate. The pathway ambles through 1 acre of lush landscape with 74 beautiful Japanese maple trees, 500 rhododendrons, and numerous birch trees. There is also a 656-foot-long stream that meanders throughout this Zen Garden.

After spending the day wondering around the various gardens, we boarded our tour bus, got back on the ferry, and returned to our hotel for a well-earned rest and dinner on our own.

If you have never attended an International Waterlily Water Gardening Society symposium, I would highly recommend it. I have been to six symposia and have thoroughly enjoyed every single one. Check out their website, consider joining, and keep your eyes out for the 2024 Symposium, scheduled to take place in London and the surrounding English countryside – I can’t wait to see what the IWGS has planned!

A Review of the 2023 Growing Season at Hudson Gardens

By: Dorothy Martinez

As the temperatures cool and summer fades into autumn, I have been contemplating the past growing season at Hudson Gardens, in particular what parts of this year were good and what parts were not so good.

First the good. With all of the moisture this spring and summer, things were greener and lusher than in year’s past. Also, wildlife was more abundant probably due to more plentiful food and water sources.

Since I am the Lead Water Garden Volunteer at Hudson Gardens, my primary focus is on the various water features within Hudson. With the late snows and copious rain came more overcast days and due to that lack of sunshine, it seemed like the tropical plants were a bit slower to grow and thrive. Thankfully, once temperatures started to warm up in July, the tropical plants started to get bigger and produce some beautiful flowers and foliage.

I have been fairly successful in propagating various hardy and tropical plants at Hudson Gardens. Some are easy and others pose more of a challenge. Some of my favorite plants this season were the tropical water lily Rhonda Kay, the “hardy” banana plant (Musa acuminata ‘Zebrina’), and various taros.

If you are not familiar with Nymphaea 'Rhonda Kay', you should acquaint yourself with this very reliable tropical lily. Once it gets going, it produces leaves with 1-foot diameters that spread out over a fairly large area. The best part about Rhonda Kay is a single plant produces many beautiful, stellate purple flowers (5 – 8) at any one time throughout the growing season.

I acquired a “hardy” banana plant from Water’s Edge in Elbert before they sold the business in 2020. I really love the foliage of this plant as it has the most striking green and brown mottled leaves. This plant typically reaches about 6 to 7 feet tall by the end of the season and if very showy when several plants are placed together. I put quotation marks on the hardy part because it is considered hardy in warmer climates (USDA Zones 7 and above). As Hudson Gardens is in Zone 5, it is definitely tropical, not hardy.

The taros were slow to start, but once they started growing, they were absolutely gorgeous. I have been trying to expand the number of cultivars throughout the 12 seasons I have volunteered at Hudson. Back in 2012, the only two cultivars we had were Green Taro (Colocasia esculenta) and Black Magic (Colocasia esculenta ‘Black Magic’). Since then, I have added Imperial Taro (Colocasia esculenta ‘Illustris’), Mojito (Colocasia esculenta ‘Mojito’), Aloha (Colocasia esculenta Royal Hawaiian® ‘Aloha’, Chicago Harlequin (Colocasia esculenta ‘Chicago Harlequin’), Violet Stemmed (Colocasia esculenta ‘Fontanesii’), Elena (Colocasia esculenta ‘Elena’), White Lava (Colocasia esculenta Royal Hawaiian® ‘White Lava'), and Elepaio (Colocasia esculenta ‘Elepaio’).

The color variations of these taro cultivars are diverse as well as absolutely beautiful. To describe a few of the color variations: the Elena has a lime green colored leaf, the White Lava has a green leaf with a white center, the Imperial has a green leaf with a purple overlay, the Mojito has a green leaf with variegated splotches of purple, the Elepaio has a green leaf with white splotches, and the Violet Stemmed has green leaves with violet-colored stems.

Now for the not so good. Hudson had the misfortune of enduring 4 hailstorms this year. As you know, hailstorms are absolutely devastating for aquatic plants. We tend to the aquatic plants every Wednesday and, you guessed it, each hailstorm hit within 1 – 3 days after we completed our weekly work. After each hailstorm, it took about 3 weeks for the plants to bounce back from the storms. Needless to say, we were very disheartened after each hailstorm. To add insult to injury, each hailstorm hit about 2 weeks after the previous hailstorm. We spent much of this past summer cleaning up hail damage.

The most unfortunate victim of all these hailstorms was our prized Victoria water lilies. This was the first year we were able to display three different cultivars (Victoria ‘Longwood Hybrid’, Victoria cruziana, and Victoria amazonica). The amazonica was the first to succumb to the hail – we completely lost it in early August. The cruziana never fully recovered and did not thrive or produce a single bloom. The only positive in all of this was the ‘Longwood Hybrid’ finally produced its first bloom on August 25th. It produced a second bloom on September 6th. We usually get our first blooms in mid July. Oh well, I guess better late than never and better for some blooms than no blooms.

This year proved why as a gardener, you have to take the highs with the lows and realize you can do everything right and still have things go horribly wrong.

Here’s hoping for a successful 2024 season with no hail!

2024 CWGS Membership Renewals

By: Dorothy Martinez

All memberships are valid for a calendar year, January 1st – December 31st and are due for renewal on the 31st of each year. The exception to this is if you have joined the Club in the months of September, October, November, or December your membership will expire on December 31st of the next year. Example: you joined on September 9, 2023, your membership would be valid until December 31, 2024.

You should receive an email between November 25th and December 1st with a link to the website and directions on how to renew. Just in case you do not get the email, to renew you will need to:

Login to the CWGS website first. The Login button is located at the top right-hand corner of the screen. If you don’t know or remember your User Name and/or Password, you can use the “Lost Password” feature when attempting to login. If you do not login before renewing your membership, you will lose your previous profile and preferences.

To access the CWGS website, go to:


Login with your Username and Password, scroll to the bottom of the Home Page and click on the area titled "Become a Member/Renew", review the information and make any changes necessary. Click on the “Renew Now” button, which should take you to a screen with all of your information. Review your information and make sure to update any changes. To pay, click the “Pay Now” button at the top and follow the prompts to enter your credit card information.

All Newsletters are only delivered digitally/electronically so, make sure your email address is up to date.

An Individual Membership is $15 and a Family Membership is $20.

Alternatively, you can fill out a membership form and return the completed form along with a check to:

Jerry Swanson
CWGS Membership
4867 Wildflower Place
Dacono, CO 80514

For a printable PDF application form, please go to:


As a member you will have the ability to access the Member Only area of the website which includes being able to access all Archived Newsletters, educational brochures, and post any items you would like to give away or sell. Members receive updates about all upcoming meetings and events as well as gain exclusive early access to our Plant Sale.

Make sure to renew your membership before the end of the year to continue receiving all the benefits that come with being a current member.