John & Mary Mirgon

John and Mary Mirgon
Denver, Colorado
By Cyndie Thomas

Click photos to see enlargements.
In the Beginning . . .

A small water garden in a square galvanized tub provided John and Mary with the start of what has become a life long passion.

As their passion grew, so grew the size and number of ponds. Their second pond was a kiddie wading pool, sunk into the ground with a compliment of mountainous rocks. In 1975, their first "true" pond, named "Number One," was installed, followed by pool "Two" in 1982. Number one was removed,filled in and re-dug in the interim. Their display of a few lilies had exploded

"Number One"
into a major collection, necessitating construction of pool "Three" in 1986. Each addition replaced a grass mat with a spectacular summer lily mat. Mary and John now have more than 100 varieties of lilies, both tropical and hardy, in their display each season.

The little "brown" pool
Their passion went beyond self-fulfillment as an end goal. They have been devout over the last 20 years, extending their knowledge to anyone interested in learning. In 1983 they focused on organizing the first water garden society in the world, the Colorado Water Garden Society (CWGS).
CWGS was deemed to be the first such organization in the world by the Royal Horticultural Society in February, 1984. In correspondence from Brent Elliot, RHS librarian, he stated; " It was interesting to learn of the existence of the Colorado Water Garden Society …There is not, as of yet at any rate, a water garden society in this

Pool "Three"
country, nor have we encountered such a society in Europe; I suspect therefore that you are the first such society in the world, not merely in the USA." As the organization’s first president, John began networking with the very limited group of water garden suppliers in an effort to increase availability of products and information locally for the lay person with an interest in water gardening.

Pool "Two"
John’s inquiries for educational information and sharing the successful organization of CWGS with Charles Thomas of Lilypons of Maryland had an influence on the creation of the International Waterlily and Water Garden Society (IWGS).

CWGS First Presidents Award

John, Charles Thomas and Gordon Leddbetter
In a letter dated February 16, 1984, Charles Thomas wrote: "For the past several years, I have been interested in helping a national water lily society get underway…Do you have information to share about how your club was formed and how it operates?This information, with your permission, could be shared with others who might like to imitate (the highest form of
flattery) what you have accomplished." IWGS, formerly know as the Water Lily Society and the International Water Lily Society was started in 1984. Since John’s "assistance" in helping move along the start of IWGS, he has sent similar information on formation of a society to approximately 28 people throughout the U.S. and Canada.

One of several walls filled with photos and awards.
Furthering the CWGS goals of "encouraging a greater appreciation of and interest in aquatic plants and disseminating water gardening information," John has shared their backyard display and water gardening information on TV shows, in magazine articles, in newspaper features, and through innumerable presentations and classes he has taught.

Television shoot with the late
Mat Mataka, Channel 4.
IWGS Hall of Fame Award 1990
"On location" -Take 2
At their West Denver home, a basement furnace room doubles as the perfect tropical lily propagation area. Several lined tanks hold lilies during the off-season, which are then returned to the ponds when temperatures allow. In the middle of a Colorado winter, visitors enjoy a view of blooming lilies under lights.
Tropical plant over wintering Lily propagation area
Together, John and Mary share a passion for water lilies but, individually, they pursue a variety of other hobby interests. Mary fills all available space which has adequate light with numerous varieties of orchids. She also has transitioned into the computer age, somewhat leaving John behind, still using his favorite typewriter/ word processor. He is quick to emphasize, "It uses disks!"
Handmade HO guage towns and train cars.
John escapes to the late 1800’s when he retreats to his train room. His favorite activity is building small buildings and train cars from scratch. After looking at a photo, he draws blueprints to scale, purchases the necessary materials, and then reconstructs a bit a history.

A street sign at the Mirgons says it all…Water Street and Lilie's Way… a very special place to be.

John Mirgon 1926-2005

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