Photo by Gary Sund

 Walter Pagels
Continued from Page 1

Aeschynomene fluitans
[Botswana Wonder]

Walter often walked in the environs he was studying.
Here he is digging a specimen of N. ampla from
a pond in Yucatan, Mexico.

Thalia geniculata rubra
[Red Stem Thalia]

N. Jamesoniana in Florida. It is extremely rare there. It is generally a native of South America.

Taxi stopped by flood waters.

Accommodations were often less than four stars.

Click photos for larger images.

For more than four decades, Walter has traveled to numerous locations in the world in search of interesting aquatic plants that are not yet in general cultivation.He often found new plants to bring back to propagate and introduce into the fast-growing commercial trade. In order to insure the survival of these new plants into their new habitats, he gave samples of each to commercial aquatic plant growers and botanic gardens.

When he ran out of space in his back yard for growing his introductions, he started to utilize the empty ponds found in the surrounding areas of San Diego County, which included those in public parks, cemeteries, farms and Institutional landscaped areas. All together he introduced over 30 new plants into the trade, some of the more popular being Colocasia 'Black Magic', Aeschynomene fluitans [Botswana Wonder], Thalia geniculata rubra [Red Stem Thalia], Sagittaria lancifolia ruminoides [Red Stem Sagittaria], Nymphoides Indica [Giant Water Snowflake], Nymphoides cristata [variegated leaf snowflake], Nymphoides crenata [Yellow Snowflake] and Nymphoides hydrochariodes [Orange Snowflake].

His keen interest and ongoing study of aquatic plants has directed him in assisting botanic gardens through sharing of data from his research and donating plants to assist with maintaining collections.This attribute he extends to aquatic plant enthusiasts, scholars and commercial growers.

In 1966 his plant sharing and collecting drew him into business with the creation of Walter's Aquatic Plants. In 1990 he turned the business over to Cindy and Gary Sund, his daughter and her husband.


Walter spends several weeks each year traveling to study aquatic plants and make new discoveries. Often a stop will include a visit with new and old friends, but it often reverts to providing his expertise.

When near home, he can be found volunteering to further the public interest in water gardening by assisting in replanting waterlilies at Balboa Park and refurbishing Kapanda Pond in the San Diego Wild Animal Park with members of the Southern California Water Garden Society. Since the start of the Southern California Water Garden Society in 1994, he has held the presidency for four years. He expressed the best part of being associated with a local water garden society is "seeing what everyone's ponds look like."

Walter and the late Monroe Birdsey at Birdsey's home in Florida.

Walter accompanies Bruce and Brad McLane, of Florida Aquatics, to Lake Okeechobee.


Cindy Sund assists gardener Juan Godines with replanting lilies at Balboa Park. Walter is at the rear of the pond.

Photo by Nelvin Cepeda
San Diego Union-Tribune


Some views of Walter's
ponds and back yard

Sepia photos by Bud Wolford,
AeroNews, TRESS.

In San Diego, where he and his wife Anne live, his carefully designed landscape reflects his passion for working with nature. Their gardens have been featured in Sunset Magazine, The San Diego Union Homes and Garden section and other publications. In their terraced yard, resembling a mountain valley, he has several ponds, a stream bed, a small waterfall, waterlilies and aquatic plants all working together to maintain a natural balance. Plants are used to filter his ponds. Water from a Koi pond (main pool) is pumped up a hill to a waterfall where water is aerated and falls into a smaller pond. Debris is settled out in this pool, which provides nutrients for water lilies. Water then spills over to a stream that runs 16 feet. The stream is 6-8 inches deep, filled with water hyacinth to capture small suspended particles in their root systems; this results in clear water.

Walter has been called "World renowned aquatic plant specialist, Botanist, Explorer and Waterlily Man." By what ever name he is called, he is a great contributor to our aquatic and water gardening world. In 1989 Walter was inducted into the IWGS Hall of Fame for his contributions.

In 1994, Kirk Strawn hybridized a hardy small white water lily, which he named N. 'Walter Pagels'. It was described in the 1994 Lilypon's catalogue as "an exquisite hardy white lily, great for container gardens."

Compiled by Cyndie Thomas from numerous printed articles and the assistance of Walter.



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