I’ve been a member of the International Waterlily and Water Gardening Society (IWGS) since the beginning. We launched the society in fall 1994 at a special party at the home of Charles and Sally Thomas in Buckeystown, Maryland. The featured guest was Gordon Ledbetter, the author of “Water Gardens.” By the next summer, the society was off and running with our first symposium at Longwood Gardens in Kennett Square, Pennsylvania.
Since then, the society has held symposia all over the world, from the United States to Europe to Asia to Central America. I’ve cherished the opportunity to meet and make friends with folks from all over the world. For the second time, this year’s symposium will be in my backyard, San Angelo, Texas — a mere six-hour drive from my home in Pattison, Texas. Oh yes, Texas is a big place!
So you’re probably wondering, why is the IWGS coming back to this town in the middle of nowhere? San Angelo happens to be the home of the International Waterlily Collection curated by Kenneth Landon. There will be plenty of new hybrids (including the IGS crosses), lily species and old favorites on display.
Moreover, San Angelo is a terrific town populated by enthusiastic gardeners. As co-host of the symposium, I can’t tell you how helpful and welcoming the city and its local businesses have been toward us. We have been treated like royalty — and you will too, when you visit this September.
When you attend an IWGS symposium, you have the opportunity to learn. Over the years, we have shared new products, plants, technology and design trends. Business folks get to meet the people behind the latest products, share ideas, find out what’s new and consult with vendors about what their clients need for their water gardens. For the hobbyist, it’s a real treat to meet the amazing hybridzers and learn about the newest, most exciting waterlilies and the latest technology in filtration and pond construction. You can read all about the venue and the exciting speakers lined up for the 2018 symposium on the IWGS website (www.iwgs.org).
I think I speak for most of the membership when I say it’s not just about the places, products and plants that we are privileged to see and visit. Perhaps more important are the members of our society. You won’t meet a finer group of people than the waterlily enthusiasts of the IWGS. Over the years, I’ve made so many friends in the IWGS. I’ve visited their homes, and they’ve visited me. My life has been enriched by these friendships in so many wonderful ways, and we share more than our passion for water gardens.
On that note, the word “Texas” happens to be a Caddo Native American word that means “friends.” I invite you to join us Sept. 13–16, 2018 in San Angelo, Texas, to make a few new friends and find out what else is new in the world of water gardening and waterlilies.