Text and photos by Fernando Santos
Click images to enlarge
live in the southeast hills that surround the valley of Caracas,
Venezuela. We are 4,200 feet above sea level with a nice tropical
climate, within a reach of the city but at the same time far
away enough to feel you are in the countryside.
As a child with one of my older brothers, we transformed our
parents' house pool into a pond filled with goldfish, Water Hyacinth,
Frogbit, and Water Lettuce. Then on a field trip with my father
I found my first water lily. Within a few months the population
of goldfish was growing fast and here a good business for a boy
of just 8 years old.
My passion for plants began at an early age and continued through
the years until the time came to go to the university. I decided
to study Agronomy but, unable to get into the School of Agronomy
at the local university, I made my way through Biology. After
getting my degree I started working in tropical fruit like mangoes,
bananas and papaya and here is where I got in touch with high
tech irrigation systems and filtration systems
been always within my life.
In the early 90´s a friend from the university opened the
USFilter Corporation office in Venezuela and asked me to come
to work with him. From that time on I deal with water treatment
technology for the oil industry for Venezuela and Latin America.
How I got back again with plants for water gardens?
A few years ago, I took an old 4 feet diameter asbestos bowl
container, sealed the bottom hole, filled with water and put
in a few Water Hyacinths and Water Puppies. Then I made another
pond with a few water lilies found here and there with the help
of the wonderful members of IWGS and Victoria lists and a lot
of enthusiasm but very little free time for it. That is how all
started again after many years.
And for the future?
Right now, I am a bit out of the gardening activities due to
my work that takes me a lot of time traveling to different places
around the world. But from time to time I stop to share with
friends of this wonderful community.
2003 update - The pond at the Caracas Botanical Garden yielded
not just beauty but several lovely examples of waterlilies native
to Venezuela including N. pulchella. >
Fernando is also an expert orchid grower and his interest
extends to many other beautiful tropical plants. See his galleries
of waterlily, orchid and tropical images for a visual treat!
He has also contributed a fantastic article about Venezuela's
magical La Gran Sabana ("The Lost World").