For 2013, the International Waterlily and Water Gardening Society decided to have a different Symposium. Instead of our standard fare of talks and tours in late July, we went for a Caribbean cruise in February! Most members live with cold winter weather, and we thought they would enjoy the chance to get away to a warm climate and network with pond lovers amidst the many amenities of a large cruise ship. (Our ship of choice was Liberty of the Seas with Royal Caribbean.)
And that’s exactly what happened. This was more of a mini-symposium, with only three speakers and much less face time with ponds — we had a lot of fun on the cruise and hanging out with each other.
As a kind of pre-Symposium, Brad and Brandon McLane of Florida Aquatic Nurseries invited us to tour their facility. They took special care to have a great selection of tropical waterlilies in display green- houses, including a number of their new hardy-tropical hybrids. (By the way, they anticipate having their first purple “hardy” available for distribution in 2014.) It was a great way to kick off the Symposium and helped satisfy our plant addiction.
The next day, we boarded the ship and began acquainting ourselves with the many amenities. Room accommodations were pleasant as well, although Mike Swize of Nelson Water Gardens had a small bump in the road (or should I say, a small pea under his mattress). He was rooming with me, and the look on his face was priceless when he walked into the room and saw there was only one double bed for the two of us. I believe his exact words were, “This isn’t gonna work.” I was a little offended, as my cuddling skills are legendary, but after a few beers we reached an accommodation and found a workable solution.
The talks went well and held people’s interest. Brandon McLane spoke on hybridizing hardy waterlilies with tropical waterlilies (he prefers calling them ISH, an acronym for Inter-Subgeneric Hybrid, rather than the more commonly used ISG acronym, so be ready to line up behind one acronym or the other). He revealed many hybridizing secrets that I am not at liberty to divulge, as they were intended for participants only.
Nopchai Chansilpa gave a presentation of his facility and hybridizing accomplishments in Thailand. In addition to bringing us Mangkala Ubol and Wanvisa in the past, he has succeeded in some great new hybrids, including some ISH/ISGs.
Carlos Magdelina gave a very entertaining presentation (with his usual energy and enthusiasm) about Kew Gardens and his research and hybridizing there. In the sixth grade I learned about electrons having an “excited” state and a “resting” state.
We also held several mini-topics of interest in a kind of round table format, which was very successful. We did also manage to conduct our Annual General Meeting, with budget and offer approvals, et cetera. A vote was taken on whether the members present would prefer the next Symposium to be in Denver or exploring the Amazon river system in Brazil (the two leading candidates). Denver received the most votes. While that process is still in the information- gathering stage, it gave us some input.
The tours of and away from Belize City and Cozumel were full of choices, from snorkeling to visiting ruins to shop- ping to playing with dolphins to shop- ping to zip lines to jungle expeditions to … well, unfortunately there wasn’t time to do everything.
I enjoyed this departure from our usual venue, and I think we proved that a Symposium is more about the people than about the plants.