and Water Gardening Catalyst
Sun City Texas Pond Society
In September 2002, my husband Ira and I attended the first annual meeting of TAPS (the Texas Association of Pond Societies) at Zilker Park in Austin. This brand-new association and its first get-together was organized by the Austin Pond Society to honor three great Texans - Kirk Strawn, Ken Landon and Clyde Ikins - for their extraordinary contributions to water gardening.
Ira and I had retired in May 2000, building a new home and large backyard pond (our first) in Sun City Texas which is part of Georgetown, 35 miles north of Austin. We were both new to water gardening but our experience after just a year had been positive. We wanted to share our knowledge and enjoy the wide variety of water features both in Sun City and Greater Austin so we started the Sun City Texas Pond Society, a small group of pond enthusiasts in our community.
The first TAPS meeting was a great success. Credit must be given to Terry Strawn for having the foresight to suggest organizing all the clubs in Texas to pay homage to the three pioneers. It was there that we met Clyde Ikins and his friend and secretary, Lynn Warren, and it was at that time that I learned of their plans to "sell the ranch" and move to Sun City. Gallery of pictures from TAPS
A month later, I was in the area of Clyde's home and fabulous water gardens in Bandera with friends. We arranged to visit El Rancho Encantado - the "enchanted" ranch -- just west of San Antonio in the Texas Hill Countiy. Greeting us in his golf cart, Clyde proceeded to treat us to a two hour tour. The water lilies were dormant but we were amazed at the setting - 800 acres of rolling hills, two enormous spring-fed lakes, hundreds of ponds, a couple of huge greenhouses, and a "ranch" house full of lovely antiques. We learned that Clyde's late wife, Bernise, was responsible for the interior of their home.
Dr. Ikins earned a doctorate degree in geology and botany from the University of Texas in 1941 when he was only 25 years old. Between 1941 and 1981, he held a variety of jobs with Dow Chemical Company in Houston, as an independent consulting geologist and oilman, as president and CEO of Hondo Petroleum Corporation in Houston, and as a director and national representative for the Federal Land Bank Associations of Texas.
Clyde and Bernise truly built an enchanted ranch (which was in terrible shape when they bought it in 1981). They created Lakeshore Gardens where they raised Louisiana Irises and started a wholesale aquatic plant business. Over time, Clyde built up a reputation as a catalyst for water gardeners. His collection of water lilies has been described as a dependable reserve of true-to-name older varieties. He was a founding member of the International Water Lily Society and became a friend of many of the IWLS members, including Perry Slocum and Kirk Strawn. Kirk honored Clyde and Bernise by naming two of his hybrids after them.
In 1992, Clyde and Bernise hosted about 150 IWLS symposium attendees who enjoyed over 180 varieties of water lilies including Victoria, 1500 varieties of irises, many lotus varieties and other aquatic plants, in addition to a deliciously prepared Texas barbeque supper. In 1997, Clyde Ikins was inducted into of the IWLS Hall of Fame.