Cyprus Mail August 4, 2005
Reprinted with permission

 An engineer and
his water-lilies

 By Leo Leonidou

A NICOSIA man has won the prestigious Banksin water-lily competition in the United States, becoming the first Cypriot to take the top prize in the competition's eight-year history with his entry N. 'Maria'.
Andreas Protopapas, 51, an electronics engineer with a love of plants, went one better than last year, when he was the runner-up.
"Due to the fact that I live in Cyprus, I had to send the water-lilies via courier back in April and used special packaging in order to keep them wet and moisturised. A week ago, I was notified that I had won."
Protopapas said he first started out growing water plants in home aquariums 20 years ago and then progressed to building ponds with water-lilies.
"Water-lilies grow in water and anything that grows in water fascinates me," he said. "The flowers open on the surface of the water and look so beautiful. They will open in the morning and close between 4 and 5 pm. Each individual flower lasts for three days."
When asked what made his lilies so special, Protopapas said "they contain more petals, have stronger colours, with some leaves and flowers being multi-coloured."
He said lilies grow naturally in lakes all over Europe and are mostly white in colour, although they can also be found in red, pink and yellow.
"Few people grow them in Cyprus as the climate is too hot, resulting in petal burning. The best time to grow the flowers in Cyprus is in

 Cypriot wins top prize in the US

The winning N. 'Maria' (Photo: Andreas Protopapas)
April, May and June and they should be planted in water, in special baskets which allow the roots to come out."
Protopapas' growing skills have also been put to use by Nicosia Municipality, who asked him to plant around 40 lilies in the Municipal Gardens five to six years ago. 
In order to promote interest in hybridising new colours, forms, and sizes of both tropical and hardy water-lilies, the annual competition is held by the International Water Garden Society (IWGS) where hybridisers can display their new creations.

In the past few years, the competition has resulted in the introduction of several noteworthy new hybrids: plants with unusual flower shapes and colours; new leaf patterns and colours and new viviparous lilies.
IWGS promotes knowledge, leadership, and standards of excellence in water gardening and related aquatic plant areas.

 'Anything that
grows in water fascinates me'

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