François van Avondt
Zutendaal, Belgium

Images by Koen Geurts
Click to enlarge

François measuring his huge Victoria cruziana

I was born in 1956, married Chris Jansen in 1983, and we have no children. We live in Zutendaal, in the north eastern part of Belgium near the border with The Netherlands and Germany. My hobbies are growing plants and flowers, tropical lilies, and swimming. After I've got married, I started a business with 3000 metres² (32,000 feet²) of heated greenhouse to grow and sell annuals such as geraniums, surfinias and Impatiens.
My passion is water and ponds. That is why I started the construction of ponds and for the last several years I have been constructing ponds to swim in: natural swimming pools/ponds filtered by plants without chemical products. In these pools/ponds, one can swim in clear water among fish, frogs and salamanders!  
I have tropical lilies in my heated greenhouse that I brought from vacation in Thailand and Cuba. In spring, after the last frost, I plant some of them in the outdoor swimming pond. At the end of October they are planted back in the greenhouse in heated tanks (+-22 °C [72 °F]).  
Eight years ago, I got some seeds from a friend of Victoria cruziana, and started with the construction of a Victoria pond. The pond is 9 by 8 metres (30 by 26 feet) and has a depth of 1.2 metres (4 feet). The pond is covered with a plastic greenhouse tunnel and the water is heated up to 30 °C (86 °F). The pond is public during the months the shop is open (April, May and June) and is well visited. 

Read about François' mammouth Victoria cruziana in
WGI ONLINE Journal 2.1

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